No Platform for Farage: Scotland leads the way
I realise I’m now blogging about a storm in a tea cup, but yesterday’s outing to Edinburgh by Nigel Farage needs discussing. Not in the way that Radio 4’s Today program decided to ‘discuss’ it, but rather to discuss the commendable actions of the few people of Edinburgh sufficiently organised/networked to get out and do the right thing.
First, we need to be clear what happened. This was not a violent mob by anyone’s account. No reports have been made by protesters, police, media or even Nigel Farage himself in regards to punches being thrown. This was entirely about a good old-fashioned shouting match between an odious politician and the public. There is an honourable tradition of MPs being heckled off their soap boxes and stepladders in Britain. Politicians of old relished a verbal bust up (not to mention Prescott’s Punches), so perhaps I could argue that this current crop are pampered.
That Nigel Farage tries to pin the whole incident on Scottish Nationalism is simply the outcome of English activists being slow to get their act together. My guess is most of those taking part vote Scottish Green or Socialist, not SNP, and may not all want full independence. It shouldn’t be possible for him to visit anywhere but the sleepiest corner of the British Isles without people coming out to challenge his politics of racism, xenophobia and extreme right-wing economics. No matter how much he demands to be taken seriously, we must never allow him that luxury.
And yet, he insists anti-UKIP protesters should sit and listen to the debate. What debate? Anyone following the media lately will have heard a monologue of UKIP-this, UKIP-that, with no one exposing them for what they are: the Tea Party in Union Jacks, the economically ultra-right alternative to Nick Griffin’s British jobs for British workers. The combination of policies espoused by UKIP is toxic. Any pretence of feeding the working class on the misery of eviscerated immigrants and minorities is replaced with flat taxes, straight up punishment for poverty, an end to all forms of welfare and human rights redefined purely around the (necessarily male) land owner’s right to disregard everyone else’s rights.
Lets be clear: there is no good reason why the principle of No Platform should apply more to Griffin than it does to Farage. We owe him and his breed of nastiness no more credence than we do any other sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-disability, anti-working class political tendency. Farage may claim that he kicks people out of the party for expressing racist views, but this is an act of discipline, not one of principle.
Look at what happened in the Rotherham Council by-election. UKIP beat Labour by over 100 votes. Do we believe this is because low-wage working people are better under UKIP than Labour? Or because UKIP are the new heirs to Daily Express and Daily Mail efforts to divide our communities? Doesn’t this have an eerily familiar ring to the days of old when BNP ran neck-and-neck with Labour in places like Rochdale and Burnley? Yet where is the outcry amongst the left?
If Farage thinks this shouting match was an aberration born of Scottish nationalism, then I hope to goodness he has another think coming. What the Scots have shown us, let the English take up!
No Platform for Racists and Xenophobes!
(NB’s – I’m using the term racist in its political, not anthropological meaning. I realise that I’ve not explained the whole Tea Party connection very well – there’s a nice infographic on Facebook for that. I’m hopefully going to be writing about the EU question soon, so I’ve left it out of here.)