The Misfortunes of Nigel
NIGEL FARAGE, the valiant champion of British liberties and freedom of speech, has complained to police about a remark made on the BBC satirical news programme 'Have I Got News for You', claiming it breached the 1983 Representation of the People Act.
Since our Nige ("I'm just an ordinary bloke") had previously been upset about a spoof game made by schoolkids featuring a character called Nicholas Fromage, we needn't be surprised that he takes such things seriously, though it appears the Old Bill have decided they had better things to do.
What upset him this time was a remark by Sunday Times journalist and HIGNFY panellist Camilla Long, who had been challenged as to how well she knew the South Thanet area about which she 'd been disparaging. The panellist replied that she had been there more often than the UKIP leader, who is standing for election in South Thanet. “By the time I arrived there he’d only been a few times,” she said.
Farage complains that the BBC has not given his campaign in South Thanet enough coverage. For once I agree. The other evening the Beeb did broadcast a clip about it, starting with a woman shouting at Farage, showing some drab seaside street, and giving a few locals' comments. All pretty tame, inadequate, and disappointing.
By contrast here's what a young woman in Broadstairs reported last Saturday (April 25):
"I'm just back from canvassing leafletting etc where we were attacked by far right thugs shouting out support for UKIP as well as other abuse. This was witnessed by many people at Broadstairs sea front. The Police have interviewed us. The Thanet Stand Up To UKIP (SUTU) campaign had just packed up their stall when we were attacked by members of an organisation called South East Alliance, a breakaway group from the extreme right wing English Defence League.
The police were called but the attackers vanished.This followed remarks made by Nigel Farage at the meeting in Broadstairs Pavilion I went to last night in which he singled out and criticised Thanet SUTU as a local organisation vocally opposing UKIP. The same right wing thugs who attacked the Thanet SUTU stall were also there at the UKIP meeting. Farage should have known his remarks could be inflammatory. Labour party canvassers were also attacked. What can I say? "
We'd heard before about Britain First offering its services to UKIP, and a team of its heavies gatecrashed a meeting of UKIP's opponents in London as a reprisal for them staging a protest stunt at Farage's local. But it seems the Far Right enthusiasts for Farage turning up in Thanet South go under a variety of labels, judging from a report in last week's Mail on Sunday.
GARY FIELD, as featured in the 'Mail'. Some say he is known by other names.
Nigel Farage was at the centre of fresh controversy last night after National Front members turned up to campaign for him in the South Thanet constituency.
The row started after a group of far-Right supporters calling themselves the East Kent English Patriots supported Mr Farage at an event in Broadstairs on Friday evening.
They were led by Gary Field, a former regional organiser for the English Defence League, and enjoyed the protection of Ukip’s security teams, which encircled the Broadstairs Pavilion.
Mr Field, who has a criminal record for assault, drank beers behind the cordon with fellow members of his group and gestured to onlookers as a crowd waited for Mr Farage’s arrival.
Yesterday, Mr Farage’s Labour opponent in South Thanet, Will Scobie, claimed a group of his campaigners had been attacked by National Front members chanting for Ukip in Broadstairs late on Friday.
When Mr Farage realised that Mr Field and his supporters had been seen by this newspaper on Friday evening, he moved quickly to disown them, saying: ‘Members of an extremist group today arrived at a Ukip public meeting at the same time as a Mail on Sunday camera arrives.’
If UKIP takes no responsibility for Gary Field and the "extremists" whom it attracts, maybe it will at least acknowledge its own members. Like the councillors it has in Great Yarmouth.Mr Farage’s comments triggered a war of words with the patriots group, which immediately posted a message saying: ‘We went to Ukip meeting with members of Kent NF and after the meeting Nigel Farage went on Twitter saying we have far right extremists here... the question is nig, do you want our vote or not?’.....
Shortly after the incident, Mr Field posted offensive messages about Mr Scobie, writing: ‘Will scobie you are a liebour [sic] paedo supporting ponse you won’t beat ukip in south thanet you dirty little scummy traitor.’ He added: ‘I have the lynx effect on lefties.’
Mr Field was tagged in 2013 for breaching a community service order after being found guilty of assault.A Ukip spokesman said: ‘We don’t know who Gary Field is, and therefore we have no responsibility for the actions he takes or the events that he attends. We have made our stance on extremist groups clear. We have no truck with them. End of.’
David Braniff-Herbert, a trade union activist and gay rights campaigner was in the east coast resort organising leafletters for the anti-racist campaign group Hope Not Hate, which had booked a town centre hall for them to meet. He was in the centre at around 11am when a volunteer informed him that two people were outside taking photos.
“They’re in a car – two UKIP councillors,” the volunteer told him. “They’re taking pictures of the people as they’re leaving with the leaflets.” This was, he said, an intimidation tactic usually employed by far-right parties. Braniff-Herbert said he then asked the people in the car to stop, but they did not do so, so he responded by taking pictures of the car and the people in i
Told that another UKIP councillor had entered the hall, David went back in and challenged the man.
“I said, ‘I think you should leave,and he said, ‘Well what are you doing?’ and I said, ‘Well, we’re campaigning against UKIP, so it’s not worth you being here.’”
The conversation became increasingly hostile, with David Branff-Herbert accusing the UKIP councillor of trying to intimidate people, and the councillor, Tom Andrews telling him to "fuck off" and slapping him in the face.
Later Great Yarmouth police confirmed that they had detained the 73-year old UKIP member and released him with a caution for minor assault. UKIP said its member had gone into the hall on other business, nothing to do with the campaign.
And so to Hayes, in Middlesex, or outer west London, where I had to go on entirely non-political business on a fine sunny day yesterday, rounding off my visit by repairing to a local hostelry for a lamb rogan josh and pint of ale.
Overheard behind me, a couple were discussing their difficulties with social security, and turning to the topic of the general election, the woman opined that if "this lot", i.e. the government got back in, they would make things worse. "They say they will cut spending on benefits, but they won't say where they'll make the cuts".
To this not unreasonable observation the bloke with her, who did not sound in the best of health, said that he was undecided how to vote. He had previously voted National Front, but they were not standing this time. "They say to vote UKIP, because that's the next best thing".
Not wishing to spoil the lunch I'd just enjoyed or linger longer than I need, having finished my pint, I did not turn to ask the poor patriot what UKIP might do for benefit claimants (Farage has said there are too many claiming disabled benefit, and complained the Tories were "hamstrung" in their welfare 'reforms'), but left to catch my bus.
Sure enough, I see the National Front is not standing in Hayes and Harlington constituency, nor is the British National Party, which gained about 1,500 votes there in 2010. But Cliff Dixon, who stood last time for the English Democrats, a right-wing nationalist party said to have been swelled by a number of disgruntled BNP supporters, and gained 464 votes, is now the candidate for UKIP.
Not that I suppose Labour's John McDonnell, whose posters adorn several premises in the centre of Hayes besides the Party HQ, has much to worry about. His vote in 2010 was 23,377 (54.8%), almost twice that of his Tory rival; and though John's health has not been good in recent years, his political vitality and standing seems as strong as ever.