Friday, 24 April 2015

I'd like to apologise for a post I made the other day on Facebook. I shared a meme suggesting that anyone who votes UKIP is an ignorant, half-witted racist, and this is unfair. It is also completely at odds with the ethics I try to live by; ideas can be attacked, and should be if they are bad ideas, but people should be treated with respect. Assuming that a group of people are a homogenous, undifferentiated mass definable by their worst attribute is the very definition of 'prejudice', and is rather ironic in this context.

I am sure people have a whole host of reasons why they might choose to vote for a political party, and they probably think that these are good reasons. So, no, not all UKIP voters, or potential UKIP voters, are bigots, but they are voting for a party that is based on bigotry and if they do not accept this they are either ignorant of the facts or in denial of them. Not only are the mass of UKIP's policies based on erroneous “us and them”, little Englander stereotypes that bear no relation to reality (“Not everything is the fault of immigrants”, as it was so succinctly put to Nigel Farage in the recent BBC debate), they use the worst sort of dog-whistle – an indeed quite up-front – xenophobia in their presentation. And it is not just the racism; there is a strain of homophobia that is simply breathtaking. It is not just 'a few bad apples', either, the whole structure of the party is built on this way of thinking; it is why these people joined up.

What I really find staggering is the support that UKIP have managed to garner amongst parts of the working class; a least the BNP made token gestures - albeit badly thought out, expressed and spelled – to some working-class-friendly, Socialist-sounding polices. UKIP are economically so far to the libertarian right Keith Joseph would be saying “hang on, I think that might be a bit much”.

I think it is a symptom of prevailing attitudes fostered by a right-leaning, intolerant, hate-peddling media which encourages people focus their anger at immigrants, or 'benefit scroungers', or whatever, rather than at the real problems.

So, no, I don't think that all potential UKIP voters are racist, homophobic, small-minded, welfare state-destroying bigots. They are simply people who are considering voting for a racist, homophobic, small-minded, welfare state-destroying group of bigots. It is a fine but important distinction.