Tuesday 21 April 2015

Is UKIP racist? What UKIP recommend you read to aswer the question

I thought I'd do some research on UKIP and give a summary of what their manifesto means to voters. We all know their policies on Europe and the EU, but what about energy, railways, housing benefit, Tax policy etc. Unfortunately, the UKIP website was not responding. I was rather suspicious. Is it possible that hackers have taargetted the UKIP website? Now whilst I disagree with the main UKIP policies, I do not think that in a democracy we should prevent people accessing legally constitiuted political party websites. Of course it is always possible that UKIP are just inept and can't manage a website properly. Anyway, I thought that I'd have a look at the local party website.

What caught my eye was a link to a page called Christians and UKIP  - http://www.ukipbarnet.org/news/christians-and-ukip.html - This had a link saying "Meet the Christians who are Voting UKIP" soI thought I'd have a look.

The link took me to a page on Christianity Today entitled

A new religious right in Britain? Meet the Christians who are voting UKIP

Now I have to confess that I am not familiar with this publication, so I have no idea what it's stance is. The article starts with an interesting comment
The Roman Catholic Bishop William Kenney told The Tablet before May's European elections: "I am not at all convinced that the policies that UKIP are proposing are the best things for the poor and underprivileged"
Later on the article says
 There are plenty of Christians who feel that UKIP speaks for them. Given the rapidity of the party's recent rise, all evidence is pretty much anecdotal, but anecdotally, lots of Christians – especially of an older generation whose faith is cultural as well as personal – are turning to the party because they think it embodies something the others have lost. And here's the thing: not all of them are racist, not all of them are Little Englanders and not all of them are swivel-eyed anythings.
And further down the article says
 Is UKIP racist? The Methodist briefing note is helpful (it was produced after an almighty row broke out over the party's use of Methodist Central Hall Westminster for its annual conference). It says that some members are clearly racist, but that the party itself is not – though "its positioning does make it an attractive mainstream home to people who hold extreme views as evidenced by the extremists who have joined". It adds that "Its policies also support an unpleasant xenophobic narrative about immigration and the 'other' that feed feelings of fear and threat."
Now I'd thoroughly recommend that anyone with an interest in such things reads the whole article as there are many interesting points raised. It does however seem to me to be as clear as day that if the UKIP Barnet website is specifically linking to this article, they must agree with the drift of the article. The drift of the article is along the lines that "you don't have to be a racist to feel at home in UKIP but it helps". What really disturbs me is that UKIP clearly think that this article is beneficial in attracting new members  (that is why parties have websites). Now if you are someone who instinctively would not wish to be associated with anything that has the slightest whiff of racism, then the article would raise a massive red flag. If however you are someone who feels uncomfortable with a multicultural society, the article makes a pretty compelling case for UKIP membership.   The line quoted above "its positioning does make it an attractive mainstream home to people who hold extreme views as evidenced by the extremists who have joined" means to me that if you are worried about racism and you are uncomfortable around people who express racisit views, you'd probably give UKIP a very wide berth. It also means that whoever puts together the UKIP Barnet websoite, they clearly think that such a statement will actually attract the type of people they want to be members.

In the title of the blog, I asked the question whether UKIP is racist. Now if you look at the UKIP Barnet website banner (top of the page), you'd probably say no. If however you look at what UKIP recommend you read, then the picture is far more ambiguous. By there own recommended links, UKIP itself is not necessarily racist, but racists would feel comfortable in the organisation. Which beggars the question, "Would non racists feel comfortable in the organisation?".  UKIP really has to decide what it is. The demise of the BNP has shown that racist parties do not prosper in the UK. That is why UKIP clearly realise that this is not a good path to follow. What they haven't quite decided is whether they really want to be a home for those who feel that discrimination is just fine and dandy. As far as I'm concerned, the aricle in Christianity Today has raised far more questions than it has answered, but I'll leave you to make up your own mind.

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