I’ve just been watching the ‘science fiction video’ produced by Ukip in Bradford. Written and ‘directed’ by Ukip Bradford and District chairman Jason Smith, it’s a chilling and bleak testament to the intellectual and moral vacuum that his party would like to drag the country into – and also to the fantasy vision of British society that is so essential to its politics.
Sinister and ominous music accompanies a succession of Independence Day imagery of giant space ships bearing the EU logo hovering over Bradford, hoovering up taxpayers’ money through cracks in the pavement. At one point a space ship beams a hologram of some foreign Eurocrat into the empty Bradford Council chamber, declaring in Dalek-like tones ‘ We -are-the-EU. Re-sist-ance-is-useless.’
The real Dalek in this bizarre outing is Smith himself. A self-professed libertarian who runs a ‘sports hypnosis and hypnotherapy’ business, Smith plays a starring role in the video. He looks disturbingly like a cross between Big Brother and a provincial gauleiter, with his hands folded over the edge of a speaker podium, mechanically intoning Ukip policies in a strident robotic delivery.
The voice quickly grates, and so does the message, for this viewer at least, as Smith drones on and on with humourless insistence about the ‘media blackout’ which has supposedly prevented the UK public from knowing about Ukip and the ‘anti-UK parties who have handed over 70 percent of our laws to Brussels’ and the politicians who ‘ promise everything, deliver nothing, and deny everything’.
Is it possible to promise everything and deny everything? According to Smith it is, because in Ukip’s sci fi fantasy world the worst nightmares become possible and logic disappears, as various embittered vox pops with pinched angry faces utter the most ludicrous statements as if they were indisputable facts.
Thus one earnest youthful nitwit angrily declares that ‘The EU dictates we must accept all immigrants, whether they are honest or criminal and most can’t even communicate in English ‘ – an assertion supported by a digitally-enhanced image of supposedly foreign hoodlums in gangsta-style baseball hats queuing up outside the job centre.
Another dismal-looking character insists that ‘our government’s criminal policy of early release and importing criminals from the rest of the world has made our city a very dangerous place.’
All this is part of the ‘EU police state’ that Smith promises to free the population from. In their analysis of Ukip, Matthew Godwin and Robert Ford describe Ukip as an ‘insurgency’ against the political class whose typical voters
‘. . .are on the wrong side of social change, are struggling on stagnant incomes, feel threatened by the way their communities and country are changing, and are furious at an established politics that appears not to understand or even care about their concerns. And it is these left-behind voters who have finally found a voice in Farage’s revolt.’
Godwin and Ford may well be right, but it is a terrible testament to the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of British politics that voter alienation should have found its outlet in a ‘revolt’ whose analysis of British society is steeped in the fantasies on display in Smith’s science fiction mini epic. Whatever your view of the EU, it is not a ‘police state.’ Its laws and regulations have not stopped teachers from doing their jobs. It has not ‘dictated’ that the UK must accept foreign criminals. It is not stealing money from the taxpayer.
Neither Bradford nor any other UK city is overwhelmed with tagged ‘foreign’ criminals terrorizing the population. Contrary to what Nigel Farage said repeatedly last year, the population of Romania and Bulgaria did not up sticks and take over the benefit system or the NHS. These are fantasies and at times outright lies.
But perhaps the most fantastic element of Ukip’s ‘insurgency’ is the notion that it really represents an alternative to the political class that it purports to condemn. Last month, for example, Ukip’s deputy chairman and campaign director for the European elections Neil Hamilton attacked ‘the deracinated political elite of parasites, the bureaucrats, the Eurocrats, the quangocrats, the expenses-fiddlers, the assorted chancers, living it up at taxpayers’ expense’ and declared that was Ukip’s historic role ‘to sweep them all away.’
This is the same Neil Hamilton who was once forced to abandon his political career n disgrace after the ‘cash for questions’ scandal in which he and fellow Tory MP Tim Smith tabled questions in parliament after receiving envelopes filled with cash from a lobbyist acting on behalf of Mohammed al-Fayed. In 1999 Hamilton sued al-Fayed and lost, after a jury found that he had corruptly demanded cash, gift vouchers and a free holiday at the Ritz in exchange for tabling questions, and also that he had also demanded £10,000 payment from Mobil Oil for tabling an amendment to the 1989 Finance Bill.
And now we are expected to believe that this iconic symbol of Tory sleaze is going to defeat the ‘deracinated’ parasites at Westminister? Oh give me strength. And the whiff of sleaze doesn’t only come from the distant past. In 2009 Farage bragged that he had claimed some £2 million in expenses as an MEP. Farage denied that he had ‘pocketed’ the money, and insisted that he had used the ‘very large sum of European taxpayers’ money’ to promote Ukip’s anti-EU program.
Doesn’t make it right Nigel. In 2012 two Ukip MEPs were forced to repay £37,000 that they had claimed for office expenses and diverted into party funds in the UK. In 2009, former Ukip MEP Tom Wise was jailed for diverting £39,000 of staff expenses into a bank account, which he used to pay for ‘fine wine and a car.’
Well it’s good to see that the EU has its uses after all. But then, in January this year the Sunday Mirror found that Farage and his fellow MEPs had claimed nearly £800,000 in EU expenses and allowances in 2012. And last month Farage personally welcomed former Tory councillor for Leicestershire County Council David Parsons into the party.
Parsons quit his post as council leader in 2012 after Leicestershire’s standards committee found he had acted ‘ in a manner contrary to your integrity’ and ‘displayed a cavalier attitude to the audit process and corporate governance’ regarding £2, 400 in expenses claims for the council’s limo for non-civic functions.
The idea that men like these are going to ‘sweep away’ Britain’s political class and introduce new standards of moral probity is about as realistically plausible as the space ships hovering over Bradford. These are con artists, chancers and used car salesmen, who recognize a gravy train when they see it and want to get on board, not stop it. They want in, not out, and they have no problem manipulating the worst sentiments of the British public in order to achieve their aspirations.
So by all means, let’s rebel against our political class, but for the right reasons. And let’s be angry, because God knows there’s a lot to be angry about. But let’s not kid ourselves that Ukip are the answer to anything.
Because anyone who believes that might as well believe in flying saucers.