This is a cross-post from Howie’s Corner
A few weeks ago I received a questionnaire from the Hope Not Hate campaign about taking a position on the UKIP. I did give it some thought and decided to opt for ignoring the UKIP because I did not and do not see it as part of the fascist/neo Nazi far right that I think they should be concentrating on.
The result of the consultation was published on the HNH website:
Over 1200 people replied to our email within the first 48 hours and hundreds more gave us their views via Facebook, twitter and email. These numbers show the interest in this subject and justifies us asking the question in the first place.
There were a handful of abusive replies, mainly from UKIP supporters who were outraged at us raising the question, but overall the comments – both for and against – were passionate, measured and thoughtful.
In terms of a simple vote, our supporters back HOPE not hate campaigning against UKIP by a margin of just over two to one. 67% voted to campaign, while 33% said we should continue to ignore them.
However within the attached comments the position was much more nuanced. Many of those who believed that we should campaign against UKIP believed that we should just focus our efforts and resources on those people and campaigns which are very clearly racist and plainly unacceptable to HOPE not hate’s vision for a positive and diverse society rather than the party in its entirety.
There were others who voted no who said exactly the same.
Historically this approach is clearly in line with HOPE not hate’s tradition of exposing and highlighting the unacceptable extremists in all of the mainstream political parties. From the Conservative Party’s Monday Club, to last week’s revelation about Lord Ahmed’s antisemitism, HOPE not hate operates on a platform of zero tolerance towards political and cultural extremism. That means we believe we have a duty to expose any racist campaigns, comments or activities and where necessary run localised campaigns against specific candidates.
And this goes for UKIP too.
The recent Eastleigh by-election saw the UKIP coming second with 11,571 votes or 27.8% of the local electorate. Had their leader Nigel Farage stood, who knows what the result might have been. Nevertheless the UKIP is still on the rise and is standing 1,739 candidates in the local elections due on Thursday May 2nd. The press are predicting that they will make a breakthrough (of sorts) and are hitting the Conservative Party hard.
However not all has been well with their choice of candidates. Several of these have been identified as former members of the British National Party. The Times reported on Saturday that Alan Ryall who was the party’s candidate in Wickham (he quit after the story broke) admitted to membership of the BNP for “one or two years” but now “found it too extreme”. The Times also uncovered Peter Lucas in Devon who was listed as a “student member of the BNP” but he denies this. As does Chris Byrne standing in leafy Surrey; “That wasn’t me” he claims.
The Sunday Times followed this up with a report that Chris Scrotton, a UKIP candidate in Leicestershire, had been suspended for being an EDL supporter, endorsing them on their Facebook page and appears to “trivialise racism” as the paper puts it. There are others, but the one that caught my attention in particular was a certain Anna-Marie Crampton their (now suspended) candidate in Sussex who believes that the Jews were responsible for the second world war and wrote:
“The Rothschilds are Zionists. There is a difference between Jews and Zionists. These Psychopaths hide behind and use the Jews. It was thanks to them that six million Jews were murdered in the War along with 26 million Russians.
Her views get worse (she recommends the hoax Protocols of the Elders of Zion) and there is even a defence page for her on Facebook which someone linked to on Urban 75 which I refuse to do here. Not only is it full of anti-Semitic bile but links to even more dodgy websites.
The UKIP obviously has a problem in that it is attracting some of the fascist far-right into its ranks, but the UKIP itself is not a fascist party or formation by any description. They even have a clause in their Constitution banning former members of the BNP and other fascist groups from their party. However their rapid growth has left them open to infiltration by the far right.
The UKIP (rightly or wrongly) does express the views of a substantial proportion of the electorate with its policies on immigration and EEC membership that cut across the classes. One RMT member interviewed in the Independent after Eastleigh expressed his view (held by many) that the country was simply “full”. In its election broadcast they led with an ethnic minority businessman giving his views (though whether he was real or just an actor is not known to me). The UKIP are not racist, but are the right wing of traditional conservative patriotism, and Farage himself is an ardent fan of Margaret Thatcher.
Coming home tonight I was treated to an interview with the man in the Evening Standard where his jovial fag-smoking, pub going persona was said to make him seem “normal” (whatever that is) to ordinary voters. He’s certainly “eccentric” in the Boris Johnson vein (who incidentally took umbrage with Ken Clarke today over his disparaging remarks about UKIP).
On Thursday night it will be interesting to see how the UKIP fare. They may well damage both the Tories and continue to replace the Liberal Democrats as the party of protest.
Meanwhile the comrades of the far-left in the form of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition are also seeking to build on their result from the Eastleigh by-election. That won’t be difficult as they polled a mere 62 votes despite the backing of the mighty Bob Crow and his RMT union. They are standing 120 candidates on Thursday night proudly proclaiming they are contesting 5% of the seats.
Put another way that actually means they are not contesting 95% of the seats and will probably complain of a media “blackout” like last time. When will they ever learn? They are to most people an irrelevance, at most an annoyance unless you are in the PCS union which they manage to control through their various fronts.
Still the fringe parties at least make election nights a wee bit more interesting and I’ll be looking at their results at the weekend.
As for me? I’d Vote Labour!