Thursday, 25 September 2014

UKIP - time to Stand Up

Next weekend, UKIP will hold its party conference in Doncaster. Preparations are being made all over the country for people to attend – but most of these people aren’t UKIP party members. Like me, they’ll be going to join a protest, to let the party members know that they are not in the majority and will not go unopposed. One of the intentions will be to expose UKIP for what they are, perhaps strangely, to help publicise UKIP policies.  
We won’t be going to catch a glimpse of Farage, the everyman celebrity politician – what we really want to see is the new manifesto he promised.

Back in May this year, UKIP had the police come to my house in what can only be seen as an attempt to intimidate me into silence on social media. My sin in their eyes was not an ad hominem against their glorious leader nor any of the faithful. All I did was add links to a poster outlining UKIP policies that someone else had made. The links were all official UKIP websites, so that people could fact-check it for themselves. I even highlighted those policy claims that could not be substantiated.

Why would a political party want to hide its policies? Amongst the sources linked were the website of their then Small Business Tsar and now MEP Amjad Bashir; that of their publicity officer and now failed PCC candidate Keith Rowe, as well as the main UKIP website. The week following the tweet going viral Mr. Bashir changed his webpage, and Mr. Rowe’s pages were archived. The policies these men were campaigning on were simply removed from sight. 

In the aftermath I found that people simply didn't believe that these were real UKIP policies. I ended up linking the new shiny campaign manifestos to many UKIP supporters who had no idea what they were actually signing up to. On more than one occasion I was accused of writing the manifestos myself!

The single issue however that ran the campaign and still remains is immigration. Since UKIP has been exploiting this fear to great effect, we have coincidentally seen the rise of new extreme right-wing and racist organisations. Accusations of racism have been made against the rank and file of UKIP for some time, but over the past few months an MEP described the wife of a party worker as ‘a ting-tong from somewhere’, and other senior members of the party have (perhaps innocently) retweeted and favourited tweeted materials from extremist groups in the UK and USA. 

In response, local groups of people all over the country have been organising to Stand Up to UKIP. Partly funded by trade union donations, the movement is gaining strength and has organised the demonstration at the UKIP conference. 

I attended a local meeting last week to offer my support and get more information. As the venue was full people literally had to Stand Up at the back. One of the speakers mentioned my case and so I identified myself and said my piece. It was a good-spirited gathering of all ages and professions. 

One of the main ideas was to publicise actual UKIP policies as much as possible. This would seem odd for any political organisation to do in opposition to a political party. But, particularly the disaffected or protest Labour voters Farage is so keen to attract would be horrified if they knew that they were voting for a party much more extreme in every respect than the Tories they have loathed for generations.

As I left the meeting and walked into the street, I received two threats of violence on Twitter, within seconds of each other, from people claiming to be UKIP supporters. I banned and reported the users of course (though pointless - one was a brand-new account). 

It seems that some people still don’t want our help in spreading UKIP’s message.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Criticising UKIP is 'siding with the Taliban?

What would you call something that attacks people based on culture and tradition, their lifestyle, portraying them with over-emphasised facial features? Would that be racist? Or ‘humour’?

UKIP deputy leader Suzanne Evans would go with the latter definition. Last week she retweeted a spoof screenshot of a ‘Taliban dating site’. It shows a distorted picture of a big-nosed bearded man in the top left, has options to choose women, camels or goats, and shows pictures of women wearing the burkha, who live in caves or tents. 

This has nothing to do with the beliefs or practices of the Taliban and everything to do with racist stereotypes relating to Arabs.

Moreover it was retweeted from an account that contains some of the most extreme racist and offensive content imaginable, including a photoshopped picture of what is claimed to be a young naked ‘Christian woman’ having her throat cut by a gang of ‘islamist’ men, with the caption ‘Ah, the religion of peace’. Other tweets follow the ‘white genocide’ and ‘anti-racist is a code word for anti-white’ themes common to white supremacist sites in the US, adopted here in the UK by elements of the EDL and race-hate groups.

Another element of this ‘humour’ is that one of the women in the picture is described as being a ‘French Journalist’. This may be a reference to Belgian Joanie de Rijke, was captured and raped by the Taliban in 2008, later vilified by right-wing parties in the Netherlands and elsewhere for her attitude to her captors after she was ransomed and released. It may also reference British Journalist Yvonne Ridley who converted to Islam after her release. 

Bearing this in mind, why is the deputy leader of UKIP still defending her tweet, and going beyond that to claim that people criticising the post are ‘siding with the Taliban’, or that she was doing this off the back of writing a UKIP pamphlet where she wanted to emphasise the rights of women?

She claims in her article (published on the extreme right-wing site Breitbart) that terms like ‘racist’ and ‘offence’ are too often bandied about in some kind of ‘leftist witch-hunt’ which prevents people from speaking out about issues if they are ‘the wrong colour’. Is this the same sentiment supported by the originator of her tweet, that ‘anti-racist is a code word for anti-white’?

As a politician with a senior post in a party, she should be aware that she will be (rightly) under public scrutiny. Yes, we would not expect someone in her position to be tweeting this kind of thing – whether the picture is inherently racist or not - or to be referencing rape and kidnap as ‘humour’. 

For Ms. Evans information, unlike Presidents Bush, I do not and never have supported the Taliban.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Roger (Helmer, UKIP MEP) and Me

Roger Helmer called me an idiot.

Well, I did misinterpret his tweet, quite deliberately, but only in the same way that he posted his tweet – giving the impression that Prince Charles endorsed UKIP’s education policy.

I also prefaced it with ‘The Mysterious Mind of Roger Helmer’, a continuation to series of tweets posted in the run-up to his failed by-election attempt in Newark.

All the quotes I posted are real. 
They came from either Helmer’s blog or from this marvellous document

which I noticed  has been updated since I last saw it. The juicy quotes are still there - like CO2 isn’t a pollutant as it ‘greens the planet’; global warming doesn’t exist, and other such terrifyingly stupid nonsense. He’s also added some new graphics.

It wasn’t made by ‘Josh aged 13’ – it was made by this guy (I’m sure UKIP obtained permission, as it seems they are all under copyright to the author, though he does give fair use permission with a credit on non-commercial blogs). 

The very nice cartoon is a little misleading however. This is what a fracking pad looks like.

 And this is what a fracking does to a forest. 

And the thing about fracking – you need THOUSANDS of them – at eight per square mile.

What has Roger updated in the new document? 

He removed the misleading temperature diagram and references to the discredited Channel 4 ‘documentary' The Great Global Warming Swindle and replaced it with the strange, unsubstantiated claim that “there are increasing doubts about the theory of man-made climate change”.

And this
             UKIP believes that the small changes we have seen in global temperatures in the last  
             century (+0.7oC) are entirely consistent with well-understood, long-term, natural climate

This is all kinds of stupid and I’m not going to give it any attention - if you like, you can start by having a look here and here.
His section blaming fuel poverty on green policies now has a new picture from Shutterstock. Here is another picture from the same set, of the same model.

He references a select committee report from 2013, but curiously not the actual report but an article in the Daily Mail!

He quotes this:

           and climate change policies will add 33% to the average electricity price paid by UK households in 2020, in addition to any potential wholesale price rises.

Aha! Nasty green policies! Hang on – the very next sentence…

                 The Department maintains, however, that household bills will be lower than they would otherwise be in the absence of policies.

Oh so, hang on, the policies will actually make the bills cheaper…

Nevertheless – I’d agree (WITH THE COMMITTEE) that green subsidies would be better coming from direct taxation than levies.

He dropped the UKIP support for tidal power research. I wonder why?

Ah – he’s added more about Fracking – or what he now refers to as Shale Gas.

           The low levels of risk that may be associated with fracking are outweighed by the benefits  
           that cheaper and abundant energy can create, and by the risks that are associated by rising energy prices and a growing energy gap.

And nuclear  -

Anti-nuclear lobbyists love to argue that the waste will remain dangerous for tens of
              thousands of years. But our descendants in a few hundred years will have made vast
              technical strides that we cannot even imagine today. They may be mining our waste
              deposits, safely, to reuse in new ways.

Nuclear is OK because, you know, Science Fiction?

Coal is nice too.

We do not however regard CO2 as a pollutant. It is a natural trace gas in the atmosphere
          which is essential to plant growth and life on earth.
          Higher CO2 levels increase agricultural crop yields and “green” the planet.

I just love that bit!

The report also has a new contributor -  Ben Pile, Energy Consultant.

Meet Ben Pile, BA in Politics and Philosophy (PPE?), Climate Change Denier – and he doesn’t have much time for academics or environmentalists.

But he's actually been around for a while - he was part of Bloom's posse.

So as far as environmental policy goes, it looks like that we won't have to wait for the new manifesto - it's all here. Climate change denial, a fracking free-for-all, where we can suck down that lovely CO2 that makes our croquet lawns so green. Who needs science when we have the combination of the Mysterious Mind of Roger Helmer and a guy with a degree in PPE? We have stock photo models pretending to freeze, for goodness sake! And Nuclear is safe because...Space 1999!

Or maybe that's not such a good example...