There is little that is positive to be said for Nigel Farage – a man who spreads hate and uses the politics of fear to its fullest potential – but he must have an extraordinary media team behind him. For a party with no Members of Parliament, he has managed to get an inordinate amount of airtime on the major channels. The BBC has been particularly vilified for this, and rightly so. One of the remits of the public broadcaster is that they provide ‘balanced coverage’. Quite how the Corporation can justify Farage appearing on Question Time 15 times in four years in the interests of ‘balance’ has yet to be explained.
Farage is a dangerous man. He may or may not be a bigot but he has certainly excelled at recruiting prospective candidates who are racists and homophobes, as well as several party members who seem to think that those with disabilities are less than human. He has obviously contributed to this polemic, spouting on about a five-year ban on migrants who ‘want to take our jobs’, but didn’t think it was hypocritical to employ his German wife as his secretary.
Like the BNP before it, UKIP seems a one-policy party, but Nick Griffin never achieved the same degree of popular support as Farage has. It is, of course, easier to spread fear and hate in a time of economic uncertainty; by sowing the seeds of job insecurity, Farage and Co are tapping into our greatest fears: poverty and a failure to survive. It is a classic technique; the leaders of the most appalling regimes in history united their citizens in hatred against a common enemy and they did it in times of austerity. When people are frightened – and make no, mistake, the British public is frightened – they look for someone to blame. Who is an easy target? The immigrant, who looks different, and speaks differently, and who is often willing to do the jobs no one else wants to. The person who has to claim benefits to survive, because we can accuse them of ‘shirking’ and ‘scrounging’ (even though most people on benefits work, but are paid so little that they cannot afford to live). The long-term unwell, who are often utterly unable to work, but who are portrayed as ‘lazy’ and ‘workshy’.
The people who we should target in a time of economic uncertainty are, of course, not immigrants, the poor and the sick, but the great and the good; those who don’t pay their taxes and then justify it using the law. In my view, the law is irrelevant if it fails to take ethics into account. There is an ethical duty to pay tax in order to redistribute wealth. It’s a sign of the times that no politician, including Farage, that supposed ‘man of the people’, thinks we should pursue those who truly deserve to be labelled ‘scroungers’.