Weird blog of the day courtesy of the Telegraph: “UKIP is now a racist party” by Dan Hodges. The charges appear to be as follows: off-colour racist jokes being told at the UKIP conference and defended by Farage as focusing on national stereotypes rather than racial stereotypes – something he condemned when he was mobbed in Edinburgh and upset by their anti-Englishness. Oh, and a story he told about catching his train home and not hearing English for a large part of the journey:
“So why did he tell the story? He told the story because the politics of division and subtle – and not-so-subtle – prejudice is now Ukip’s politics. There was a time when the party targeted elites and institutions. The European Parliament, the Commission, the Council of Ministers…There is no longer any point in attempting to deconstruct Ukip in a vain effort to legitimise them. The laughter at Paul Eastwood’s jokes was genuine. Its slogan “Love Britain, Vote Ukip” was not appropriated from the BNP by accident. Nigel Farage’s ludicrous tale about the silence of the English north of Grove Park was deployed for a purpose.”
The part that amuses me most about the article is the “now”. NOW?!
When it comes to racism, it seems there are two levels: skinheads and thuggery or uncomfortable jokes. I do think the jokes are off-colour and racist. But they’re not the worst thing. In fact, these fairly obvious things are often focused on because it helps us to overlook structural issues and insidious racism.
The sort of racism that lets you know that you’re not welcome, that you don’t fit in – and it doesn’t need to leave a burning cross on your lawn, scrawl on your wall or tell stupid jokes in your face to do it. It’s more slippery and more socially acceptable. It makes the “common sense” argument with coded language and appeals to people’s discomfort with change. It has a soft focus gilded image of a past that never was. And that past certainly didn’t include you. Along the way, this racism will try to chip away at your rights as a rant against “political correctness” and squeal about marginalistaion while ignoring the fact that it has the luxury of doing so frequently and loudly as it speaks from a place of power and in the majority. It wants to stop the world so that it can get off, because now life is more complicated with all these different people (and women and gays) wanting to speak up and be heard.
I am also not alone in being bothered for quite some time by UKIP’s sexism, homophobia… and racism. And that’s the real link to the Edinburgh incident with Farage. The Scottish reacted to many things I’m sure, but also to Farage’s narrow, stunted little-England schtick which basically excluded everyone outside the Southern heartlands. He seeks to project that peculiar take on Englishness as a vision for Britain and a definition of Britishness. The trouble is, that excludes pretty much everyone, not just people of colour.
It’s a vision that doesn’t touch the diversity of Britain – not just its racial diversity, but the diverse tribes and nations of this island. Yes, Dan, UKIP is racist. And has been for some time.Welcome to the party.