Monday, May 12, 2014

UKIP: A Criminal Manifesto

Among Nigel Farage's guests on last week's Question Time were David Dimbleby and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. It was an interesting exercise in seeing how Farage gets most ruffled and interruptive when someone tries to talk about actual UKIP policy.

Previously, he's famously called his party's last general election manifesto 'drivel,' and just yesterday on Sunday Politics he denied the current manifesto promises tax cuts when it does.

But in the three days between the two TV appearances UKIP did something much more sinister to attack those who examine their stated policies.

You may have seen this ironic meme doing the rounds. Claiming to give '10 Great Reasons to Vote UKIP' it lists the abolition of holiday entitlement and cutting education spending in favour of the military as some of the less popular things the party is committed to.

Michael Abberton is a Green Party bod who looked for sources for the claims and produced a referenced version. Slightly geeky thing to do, but in an age when literacy is less about comprehending information and more about being able to discern its credibility, it's a laudable public service. Given that it uses proper sources and finds no evidence of three claims, you might think UKIPpers would welcome it.

Instead, someone reported him to the police for it. In real life.

Officers came round to his house and asked him to remove the tweet. When he pointed out that it had gone viral, they conceded they had no power to ask him to remove it anyway.

He's blogged it all here. He asked if he could tweet about the fact he'd been visited.

The straight answer was 'no', as this might appear prejudicial in light of the upcoming election and the police must appear to remain neutral. 

I have to say, I find it curious that he feels that

the police officers were extremely professional and polite and I couldn't fault their behaviour in any way.

Officers asking you to censor political comment when they have no power to do so is surely faulty behaviour. More than that, it is partisan, a breach of the impartiality they claim they need to be seen to maintain.

But the overarching oddness is that someone would complain at all. The meme just clarifies UKIP's actual stated policies.

However, as Owen Jones observed, UKIP voters' desires are largely at odds with the party they vote for. Away from the nebulous swirl of anti-immigrant feeling the party gets into trouble, hence doing the golf club bore act to talk over MPs who question them, or disowning their own manifestoes. Then beyond that, in the classic tradition of far-right parties, there are the unnamed supporters out in the country who get the message and take matters further.

UPDATE: 24 hours later, UKIP's South East chair Janet Atkinson called for anyone who calls UKIP supporters fascists to be arrested. 

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