I generally try to disengage from the news from Christmas Eve onwards, and even when I don’t succeed festivities and family obligations tend to reduce the amount of time I have to write or even think about it. One thing I don’t like to think about at all is Ukip. Nevertheless Farage & His Jolly Army of Bigots and Racists were as difficult to avoid over the festive season as they were during most of the year.
Just before Christmas The Great Leader was telling the nation that it was ok to use the word ‘Chinky’, because according to him that is the word most people use when they order a Chinese meal, and complaining that he had been late for a meeting because of the numbers of immigrants on the motorways.
This was laughable, however contemptible. But it was also reassuringly stupid, like the Ukip candidate who accused a gay donkey of trying to rape his horse. Because there have been welcome signs recently that Farage’s teflon veneer is wearing thin, and that the more people see of him, the more the public is becoming aware of how essentially repellent on virtually every level he and his party are.
Certainly young voters appear to be immune to his fake cheeky-chappie persona and the racism,xenophobia and homophobia that seems to course through so many of their embittered and disenchanted elders, and the latest poll amongst 17-25 year olds rates Farage less popular than Nick Clegg – no mean achievement.
All this is good, because for me the rise of Ukip was the single worst political development in British politics of 2014, and it was comforting to think that Ukip’s weird and dismal bubble might finally be about to burst. So it therefore came as an unpleasant surprise when I looked at my tablet on Boxing Day to find that the Times newspaper had just designated Farage ‘Briton of the Year’.
According to the Times, Farage was deemed worthy of this award because he had changed the mold of two-party politics ‘ for good or ill’, and also because, well that’s about it really.
Farage’s meetings with Rupert Murdoch in the States clearly weren’t for nothing then, because it’s difficult to see why else the Times chose to honour a man who has done more to project racism into the political mainstream than any politician since Enoch Powell.
Ukip’s star Tory recruit Douglas Carswell recently called on Ukip to ‘stop blaming foreigners’ and reject ‘angry nativism’ in favour of a more inclusive ‘optimistic internationalist agenda.’ Carswell clearly doesn’t realize what party he’s actually joined. Because Ukip’s appeal is inseparable from ‘angry nativism.’ It cannot be genuinely inclusive or develop an ‘optimistic internationalist agenda’ because its politics are rooted in the most bitter and resentful ‘we want our country back’ Little Englandism that has already done incalculable harm to the political and moral character of British society.
I would say – and some readers may disagree with this – that Ukip is more dangerous than the National Front or the BNP precisely because it has legitimized a racism-that-doesn’t-speak-its-name, but invariably manages to depict ‘immigrants’ as criminals, parasites, cultural aliens and intruder, and also because of the knock-on-effect it has had on the political class as a whole.
.As a result of the political cowardice – and political opportunism – of the three main political parties, his party has acted as a catalyst for policies that will inflict misery and suffering on thousands of people whose single ‘crime’ is to want to work in the UK, or marry a British citizen, or seek refugee status.
Most of these policies, whether aimed at ‘benefit tourism’ or ‘NHS tourism’ are based on fantasies, lies, prejudices and unsupported assumptions which Farage has peddled shamelessly during the four grim years of Coalition ‘austerity’, and which the government and the opposition has largely gone along with, because it was easier to do that than it was to challenge and combat them.
In helping to make this possible, Ukip has shrunk us as a nation, morally, spiritually, politically and intellectually, and normalised attitudes that ought to be a shameful embarrassment.
There are many titles that one could give to the politician who bears primary responsibility for this outcome, and ‘Briton of the Year’ really is not one of them.