Notes From the Margins…

Briton of the Year

  • December 30, 2014
  • by

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.

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  1. Nigel Baldwin

    30th Dec 2014 - 1:31 pm

    I used to think of Nigel Farage as a modern day Horatio Bottomley. I’ll modify that slightly, to a British equivalent of a George “Dubya” Bush. Except that he’s trying to sell himself to a people with far less credulity than the Americans.

  2. Mark Fitzgibbon

    31st Dec 2014 - 7:40 am

    thanks Matt.

    You are right – they ARE more dangerous for exactly the reasons you mentioned.

    They have poisoned every area of the very limited political debate we have here.

    I am ashamed to say my own mother loves them, and expounds their ‘virtues’ given every chance.

    then again, elderly voters in every country and system have a tendency historically to inhibit change and to embrace questionable ideologies unfortunately.

    Hope you had a nice holiday and a happy New Year to you and your family:)

    • Matt

      31st Dec 2014 - 9:10 am

      Thanks Mark, and a very happy New Year to you and yours also.

      • Mark Fitzgibbon

        31st Dec 2014 - 11:39 pm

        thanks 🙂
        Talking of crazy people a la UKIP and the Pakistani killers, lee Rigby’s murderers etc, I just had a VERY nasty little abuse session from one of these crazies.
        all I did was stick up for a LGBTQ user and he basically then engaged in anti-disability abuse (we should be ‘culled’), racism, ethnic abuse, death threats linked to Islamic militism (he said the Rigby killing was ‘good’ and I was next), anti-semitism, and accusations of paedophilia and child abuse. Clearly a nutter… 🙁
        Feeling violated and very angry, I advised him to urgently seek help and then reported him to youtube and to the police online crimes unit (with screenshots).
        Sad that the ‘Net seems to breed these crazies – on both sides of the political and ethnic divide and not just from UKIP.
        And sadly enough enforcement/reporting is the only way to stem it and get them some sort of help and stop them doing this to people.

  3. Nigel Baldwin

    31st Dec 2014 - 10:36 am

    My choice for Briton of the year would be Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC. Frances sees Britain’s future, as I do, as a fully commited member of the EU, with a properly paid, trained and skilled workforce, serviced by a properly working financial sector in the service of productive industry, backed by proper education and a strong welfare state. In short, just like Germany.

    The Britain Frances O’Grady wants is the Britain I want.

    • Matt

      31st Dec 2014 - 11:13 am

      Sounds like a good choice to me Nigel, but really, there are so many possibilities…except Farage.

    • Mark Fitzgibbon

      31st Dec 2014 - 11:40 pm

      Excellent choice Nigel – I agree.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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