I did my commenting about the latest Nigel Farage saga on the BBC Russia Service where I managed to add that I did not consider UKIP to be a right-wing party. Look at what they are proposing, I argued, it's pure socialism (an evil word in the Russian Service as one can imagine).
Still, probably, I ought to write a few words on the subject on this blog as well. For someone who has been involved in eurosceptic politics for over twenty (coming up to twenty-five) years and was co-founder of UKIP this is all very depressing and annoying. UKIP may be past salvation (though I would prefer to think that no political organization is ever) but what idiocy of this kind does to the whole eurosceptic movement and our chances in the referendum (when and if) does not bear contemplating.
Farage, the Dear Leader, insists that he made no racist comments and did not suggest that people should be encouraged to hire white people as against black or brown. To be fair, Channel 4 does not say he did. What they say is that he pronounced on the subject of the Race Relations legislation, throwing out the idea that it is now out of date and due for the scrap heap. It is hard to say how this came about. Was he asked a question? Did he volunteer the information? Was he talking, as it would appear from the story, about the original legislation of the mid-sixties or the more recent Equality legislation of 2010, which was an EU requirement and has caused a number of problems though not about race? I suppose, we shall have to wait for the airing of the programme to find out.
On the assumption the the report is more or less accurate and he was talking about the legislation of the sixties then one can say only that his statement that it is out of date is debatable. It may be, it may not be and, perhaps, it should be debated. But to imagine that it is somehow an issue of great importance to voters is fatuous. Those for whom this matters more than anything else have already decided to vote for UKIP or BNP or not to vote and they do not matter. People who are hesitating as to which way to vote are not going to be swayed by arguments about the Race Relations legislation of fifty years ago.
UKIP seems to be convinced that what they choose to call political correctness (a flexible concept in political discourse) is seen as a terribly oppressive burden by many people in this country who are just waiting for the chance to vote for a party that proudly opposes it. So far, they have been wrong on the subject and I suspect they will go on being wrong as they overestimate its importance or burden for most people.
Despite the grumbling, often from the usual suspects, about "political correctness gone wrong" I do not think open racism is a popular concept with the overwhelming majority of this country's population.
One of the points the interviewer made was that the fuss Farage's comments provoked show that politicians on both sides of the spectrum are afraid of him and his party. True, I said, but look at it another way. This will be a make or break election for UKIP and, especially, for Nigel Farage. The party has done well in the last couple of years and has had an enormous amount of publicity. True, the only two seats they have are those that were held by their previous representatives as Conservatives but, nevertheless, they are two seats in Westminster and there are all those seats in the Toy Parliament (though I must admit I cannot remember how many, what with all the comings and goings). For all of that, their support in the opinion polls has been steadily at 15 per cent and sometimes down to 13 per cent. That may not bring in any Westminster seats. Farage is clearly trying to up the game by making what he considers to be provocative statements. Will it work? We shall not know the answer till May 7.
Going on to the substantial part of the comments, it seems yet another anti-immigration sally, all I can say that there is a certain lack of logic there. On the one hand, our Nige has proclaimed that he wants legislation that will make it possible for firms to hire whom they want. Well and good. We all want that though the notion that left to themselves firms will always hire the best, regardless of race, gender or nationality is not entirely accurate. But I digress.
On the other hand, the Dear Leader and his party want the government to pass some legislation (ahem, even when we are out of the EU it will not be the government that will be passing legislation but Parliament) that will make firms discriminate in favour of British-born workers (an odd definition by itself) and, perhaps, make it illegal for them to advertise and hire foreign workers as long as there are unemployed British-born ones whether, one assumes, they are qualified to do the job in question or not.
Logical, this ain't. I return to my starting point. The damage this does to the eurosceptic arguments is unbelievably high.