(warning: this post is political, all ponderings are personal)
If Scotland does vote for independence British politics is likely to move even further to the right. Westminster Labour benches are filled with Scottish members. Labour itself is shifting to the right more in response to the pressure from the right. Scotland’s stance on immigration is less aggressive, more welcoming. These facts and the rise of UKIP and the far right in England may well influence the Scottish referendum towards independence. In Scotland allegiances with Europe, particularly Scandinavia, are being explored positively. Westminster is threatening the need for border checks to avoid Scottish soil being used as a migration gateway to England and Wales. I don’t know why Westminster fears this. If UKIP gains in power in Westminster and Scotland claims independence I may be among those trying to escape to Scotland.
Some have claimed that UKIP cannot be labeled ‘racist’ because they target nations more than ethnicity. Do they not twist their own argument here when Farage accused Scottish protestors of being “deeply racist” in displaying “a total hatred of the English”? He called them “racist Nazi scum”. Eastern Europeans such as Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians and Albanians are targeted, along with Muslims and occasionally Jews by UKIP. The slippery response to assert these Scottish protestors are racist mocks Nigel’s defense to other allegations of racism within UKIP’s core policies. This could be considered a rebranding of fascism to be seen to target national not racial stereotypes. Having said that, some racial and religious targeting still applies. Paul Eastwood joked at UKIP spring conference: “Any Midlands people here? Wonderful! My favourite accent is a Midlands accent.” Eastwood then mocked the Islamic call to prayer as a “traditional Midlands folk song”, faking an Arabic accent.
One UKIP candidate has claimed WW11 was “engineered by the Zionist” and that Jews murdered six million of their own in the holocaust. Members and candidates include ex BNP with criminal records. Members may be suspended when there is public outcry over some statements but this curbs the problem as to why so many bigoted, hate-fuelled comments are recorded by members in the first place. Farage blames vetting procedures but some may argue it could be more accurate to state that the party prefers its particular brand of neurotic fascism to be more stealthy. It can be viewed as a preference for the subtle and the slippery so that many are quietly brainwashed into supporting the party without realizing they are supporting a potentially fascist institution.
The party is quick to throw lawyers at those who brand them fascist or racist, effectively gagging protest and dissent. You will notice I leave the question as to whether they are fascist and racist open while examining details. Even if one were to conclude a party was fascist, it does not necessarily follow that all those who support them are. Many can be duped and it would not be the first time in history for this to happen. First, we must ask what we mean by fascism:
Fascism is defined as an authoritarian and nationalistic, often far right-wing system of governance. Historically fascist movements have had several things in common, they have all lead with a sense of threatened national identity, believing different races, cultures and religions are a threat to national survival. They fear their culture could eventually whither away due to the influence of a group or groups of people they consider ‘other’. Fascism systematically detracts from and destroys any counter-system or group that may question their totalitarian quest to rule. It often does this by degrees, dividing people and removing rights and opposition step by step. They all use elements of populism mainly focused on fear. Most Fascist parties reached the height of their popularity during major economic crises and other human securities. This is true of the Nazis’ rise to power during the financial crisis in Germany.
During fearful times many seek to blame. Fascism invariably uses discrimination as a tool. Groups targeted often include those of particular races and / or national or religious groups as well as anyone with a disability. Fascist regimes tend also to victimise homosexuals and downgrade the rights of women. Those in the Nazi death camps, for example, included Jews, Gypsies, people with disabilities and those who loved others of their own sex. Academics and intellectuals were victimised and silenced, books and art burned. In the years leading up to Nazi power neighbours became enemies and rights to work and move and associate freely were eroded for those deemed the undesirables.
It is hard to look at the darker side of today’s politics and not see some parallels. We may argue UKIP questions Europe’s power not from a wish to be democratic but from the antithesis of democracy. Democracy is a system of government by the whole population or representatives of every part of the population. UKIP is all about excluding not including people, about limiting the choice of many by telling them someone else has limited their choice. Europe appears to have become a scapegoat when one of its functions can be to ensure against despotism in any one state. Whether you conclude that there is fascism rising in UK politics today or not, and I leave the conclusions to each of you, we would be wrong not to explore the apparent similarities. UKIP, with their prejudice against people of many nations and different religions, the party’s rampant sexism, homophobia, climate change denialism and valuing of the pound above the person have me frankly angry and concerned.