Saturday 18 June 2016

On Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, is younger than I am. This I find hard to believe, and hard to stomach.

He has been a racist and a fascist since his schooldays at Dulwich College, as a widely-circulated letter from one of his teachers vividly confirms. He has not changed his views but, convinced he has 'the common touch', has matured - if that's the word - into a bilious, beer-swilling saloon bar foghorn bigot. He has debased political discourse throughout the run-up to the forthcoming referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, an agenda he and his colleagues have cynically engineered. He has tirelessly traded on fears of Britain being 'swamped' by migrants - fears stoked by the right-wing press (and especially the Daily Mail). There has been little reasoned debate around the respective merits of 'Brexit' and 'Bremain', simply rancorous and unfounded assertions batted back and forth. The public is confused, and fearful. 

This week a 52-year-old man named Tommy Mair brutally murdered Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, as she arrived at her surgery on Thursday afternoon. Mair has a history of mental health problems and (not that I wish to imply any direct connection between mental illness and affiliation to extreme right-wing causes) has links to American and South African nationalist groups. He appears to have made the murder weapon hinself following instructions obtained from some such organisation. He was, inevitably 'a quiet loner'.

An aberration? Yes and no - these things happen in a context. The context is the political climate cultivated by Nigel Farage, his UKIP followers and the many small and nasty nationalist groups who feel their time has come. If voters favour Britain's exit from the European Union we can face decades of this - a generation will grow up without any broad sense of history, geography or community, with fewer links to the wider world. This is where the post-Suez orderly management of decline leads us: to Nigel Farage and his blinkered, ignorant hate-fuelled nationalist priorities. He is a threat to our social fabric and to democracy.

Nigel Farage should reflect on the weeks' events, on his launch of UKIP's disgusting Nazi-inspired anti-immigration advertisement, then examine his conscience, if he has one. Then he might take the time to read the following statement from Brendan, Jo Cox's husband and the father of their two young children:

Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love.
I and Jo's friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.
Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it everyday of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.
She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.
Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.

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