In answer to the question: "Is Ukip a party of bigots?"

UKIP is entering the big leagues now and journalists should recognise this reality by resisting the same old lazy smears

Can Britain really be full of millions of bigots?
Michael Heaver
On 14 February 2013 09:18

Alex Andreou’s recent over at the New Statesman comes with a rather apt sub-title: 'Asking the questions others are too intelligent to ask'. I’d suggest his latest question -- "Is Ukip a party of bigots?" -- at least shows that his blogging does what it says on the tin.

He begins with the just factually incorrect assertion that UKIP’s manifesto is negative. In actual fact it supports grammar schools, prison expansion, a doubling of the defence budget, taking those on minimum wage out of income tax, abolishing national insurance, bringing in a 31 percent flat tax, and a number of other very positive, forward-thinking ideas. But I guess he missed those bits.

Then we get to the widely-discredited “extremism” accusations. There has been a concerted attempt over many years to try and smear UKIP as racist, fascist and xenophobic. It failed after many years of dirt digging once most quality journalists realised the answer was a cut and dry “no”.

The European Parliament issue is a strange one as you sit with radically different parties across Europe. But lefties are not exempt here and may get a shock when they realise who Labour sit with on the continent – as laid out excellently by Daniel Hamilton a while back.

The temptation to reach for such a lazy smear is clear to see in a country where patriotism is often regarded as being a signature of the “far-right” in Westminster. Want to leave the EU? You’re extreme. Want to control Britain’s borders? You must be crackers! Proud to be British? How very dare you, chuckles the metro commentariat.

The thing is, when they seek to ostracise UKIP for having such values, they actually condemn the Great British public who are shown to back UKIP’s position on, well, most issues when polled.

Andreou goes for the classic digging up of discredited dirt in his piece, having already admitted to me that he has met hardly anyone from the party.

And that’s what makes me laugh – I can understand journalists having a lack of understanding of UKIP; let’s face it, five years ago it wasn’t polling close to what it is now so the necessity of quality research wasn’t as great because the spotlight wasn’t on like it is now. But given that Nigel Farage’s party is now hitting 15 percent+ in domestic polls, it deserves a bit more respect. After all, you’re now accusing millions and millions of people of supporting bigots, a serious charge indeed.

I suggest that the likes of Andreou get out of the office in London, get down to Eastleigh, and actually meet some of the people he assumes are bigots based on his flimsy accusations. For instance, he asks the implicit question: why would UKIP need to ban ex-BNP members from joining? Erm, so we don’t have former Nazis elected as Councillors, as they have been for Labour, perhaps?

The accusation that UKIP isn’t “diverse” is complete hogwash and yet another lazy assumption that comes from basing your research of a political movement on Wikipedia and Google rather than actual active journalism. I’ve met the most staggeringly diverse cross-section of people in UKIP; the party contains members from high-ranking military backgrounds through to immigrants new to the country, with members of all creeds, sexualities, ages and economic backgrounds in-between.

I doubt there are many other political parties where you can share a drink with a Trade Unionist and an Etonian at the same bar. Democracy and freedom, UKIP’s core messages, bring people together. The difference with UKIP is that it doesn’t treat people as tokenistic cattle to be rolled out to appease the politically correct brigade.

As for the ridiculous suggestion that UKIP is somehow 'anti-woman', why doesn’t Andreou go and speak to Jane Collins, UKIP’s Rotherham by-election candidate, or Margot Parker who ran in Corby or maybe even Diane James who is running for UKIP in Eastleigh right now? Point made I think.

So before journalists at the New Statesman seek to label people they haven’t met, don’t know and clearly don’t understand as bigots, they should understand that politics isn’t as simple as some choice select quotes from bitter ex-leader Alan Sked.

UKIP is entering the big leagues now. A recent poll, for instance, shows that more LibDems in Eastleigh have switched to UKIP than Labour or the Tories, and maybe this should have Andreou et al. questioning their own – dare I say it – bigoted viewpoint of what UKIP stands for and is really about.

Michael Heaver is a right-wing activist and blogger. He tweets at @Michael_Heaver

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