Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism

Is UKIP the BNP for the middle class?


Last night there were hustings of parliamentary candidates for our two local constituencies. I wasn’t able to go, but a friend showed me the programme afterwards. Alongside candidates from the three major parties were two UKIP candidates. It seemed normal to everyone that there were UKIP candidates on the platform, not arousing the controversy that having BNP candidates there would have created.

It seems UKIP’s main electoral tool is elector ignorance, with a bit of media fearmongering to boot. When I ask people what UKIP stands for, everyone says they are against the EU, and when pressed add that they’re probably anti-immigration too. For those who would never dream of voting for the fascist BNP, UKIP seems to them an attractive alternative to the major parties, but I’m sure they are not aware of what UKIP stands for.

UKIP’s immigration policy is against the UN Convention on Refugees, and so both UKIP and the BNP state that they would withdraw the UK from it. They would also repeal the Human Rights Act in order to deliver the harsher forms of ‘justice’ they relish. Any lover of liberty should start to hear alarm bells when a political group advocates the rolling back of our human rights.

UKIP would put a five-year freeze on all immigration for settlement, and then cap it. This draconian procedure would severely hamper free and fair movement of people, keep married couples apart, reduce the unskilled labour force and probably be met with reciprocally harsh immigration procedures for British citizens worldwide.

UKIP is against multiculturalism, and would want to impose ‘British culture’, whatever they may think it means, on all resident in this country. There are clear racist policies that would flow from this. They oppose ‘political correctness’, which is usual right-winger speak for anything that stops the ill-treatment of minorities, so homophobic, racist and sexist policies are in order. Although only a minority of British people regularly see women wearing a niqab, UKIP would ban it, so freedom of religion is not UKIP policy. It was UKIP who invited Geert Wilders to show his anti-Islamic film at the House of Lords.

UKIP is officially a climate-change sceptic party, so we might expect them to stop provisions for recycling and renewable energy despite the scientific community’s near total support for the theory.

Unlike the BNP, which would like to renationalise key industries (Mussolini started life as a communist, so fascists have always loved the state-control element of that), UKIP have a far more bourgeois policy of scrapping inheritance tax and the top rate of income tax; both policies that would seriously favour the wealthy.

While the BNP have become demonized among the middle class, UKIP has thrived. Their sexist, racist and anti-environmental policies have been missed by most people. As a Christian, I uphold human rights and equality with diversity based on the theological principles of being created in God’s image and the commandment to love our neighbours. Unlike the BNP, UKIP has never claimed to be a Christian party, but it could attract the votes of conservative Christians who do not know what UKIP stands for. So, tell everyone: UKIP is not just anti-Europe, they’re against religious freedom, human rights, women, the poor and the unemployed.

Author: Gareth Hughes

A priest of the Church of England, who is Chaplain of Hertford College, Oxford, and doing Syriac research at Oxford University.

17 thoughts on “Is UKIP the BNP for the middle class?

  1. UKIP is a libertarian party, while the BNP is authoritarian. UKIP also attracts support from ex-Labour suppporters.

    BTW, I’m standing as a UKIP PPC in Glenrothes and I think we need to get out of the UN.

    I am standing for the following issues:

    1) Individual rights and personal responsibility – I advocate relaxing Britain’s gun control laws to enable those without serious criminal convictions to carry concealed firearms. Britons need to be able to defend themselves.

    2) The UN’s climate change scam has lost credibility. Abolish all green initiatives.

    3) Reject EU control.

  2. I’m also a Christian. Socialism is Satan’s work!

    Real Christians are libertarians and conservatives.

  3. Kris, I did mention that BNP is more statist. As for UKIP’s alleged libertarianism, today’s manifesto launch displays some non-libertarian themes, including banning women from wearing niqab and draconian immigration controls. I would say that the ‘liberties’ promoted by UKIP are preferential treatment for British citizens with money, a racist and classist take on ‘liberty’.

    It is difficult to see ‘getting out of the UN’ as anything other than a intention to get in a rocket ship and leave planet Earth!

    Your three policies are also fairly out-of-this-world. As a British citizen I’ve never felt the need to be armed. The US has serious problems with gun crime, the reasons for it are complex, but it cannot make any sense to ape US gun ‘control’ rules to make the UK a safer place.

    The scam is the nonsense being purveyed by the climate-change denialists. Scientist not in the employ of the oil industry agree that man-made climate change is a true issue of enormity.

    As for rejecting EU control, that’s more usual territory for UKIP. The UK government has an important role in deciding EU policy, so the spin the eurosceptics put on it, this imposition, is at best a half truth.

    Can you make an argument that ‘socialism is Satan’s work’ and that ‘real Christians are libertarians and conservatives’ because you’re wrong?

    Thank you for the video, I’ve been looking for examples of the persecution complex among US Christians, as it is being imported here. Of course, the speakers makes no solid arguments, but knots together a few aphorisms that sound like they’re from the Bible with some reactionary political sentiments to try to make the hearer think that the Bible supports this type of views.

  4. A comment from a Dutch friend:

    “This all sounds remarkably familiar to our Dutch Freedom Party by Geert Wilders: euroskeptic, anti-everything-that’s-different, and climate sceptic. Even using Freedom like UKIP uses Independence. The only difference is that they are going to be a factor in our parliament, whereas UKIP probably won’t.”

  5. Pingback: Why do some parties think repealing human-rights legislation is a vote winner? « Ad Fontes

  6. Pingback: The Weekly Wilders Round-Up, April 18th 2010 « Defend Geert Wilders

  7. Immigration is not a right. Not having any is not “draconian”, it’s simply leaving things the way they already are. How exactly is things being what they are “draconian”?
    You don’t have to “impose” something (British culture) that already existed. But you do have to “impose” multiculturalism/diversity as this is imported from elsewhere.
    Removing regulations or legislation (guns, discrimination) doesn’t mean you *must* own a gun or *must* discriminate.

    I have read the policies of both BNP and UKIP and they are very similar, which makes you wonder why the hysteria is directed only at the BNP.
    Neither party is “fascist” or “libertarian”. These old labels are moth-eaten and don’t really apply to any party these days.
    Most parties are influenced by various tendencies and their platforms reflect such a blend.
    There are no ideologically ‘pure’ parties now, and thank God!

    • I think you are using rather tortured reasoning, with a rather loose definition of what rights are. The second half of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which however you feel about it is a touchstone in our understanding of rights, enshrines emigration as a right. It is naturally felt that a right to emigrate must mean that immigration must be made available. Also Article 14 makes asylum from persecution a right. Article 15 makes nationality a right, which would make BNP policy of deportation of British citizens a human-rights violation. So, yes, immigration is not a right, but is essential to upholding other rights. In such manner, it is reasonable to describe a ban on immigration as draconian. The likelihood that such a ban would contravene the UDHR is part of that understanding. That the ban would stop or severely limit the ability of our welcoming those fleeing persecution (as we did for Jews fleeing Nazi Germany) or those wishing to bring a foreign spouse or partner here strikes me as both severe and cruel, thus draconian.

      Basically, multiculturalism is the principle that a society is successfully able to integrate different cultures in parallel. No one says it’s easy; in fact it’s tough. However, at its heart is the principle of upholding and protecting human diversity, and the right to be one’s self. The alternative is to demand that those who are different conform, assimilate or get sidelined or worse. Isaiah Berlin distinguished between positive liberties (liberties to do something) and negative liberties (liberties not to have to do something). He postulated that the negative liberties were more fundamental and should trump positive liberties. Being free from discrimination is a negative liberty, which trumps any urge to assimilate. In a multicultural Britain, whatever we may consider as constituting British culture (as that’s another question entirely) should have as free an expression as in an equally hypothetical monocultural Britain. The stories that circulate about local councils preventing various British cultural expressions are mostly spun to look like that.

      Likewise, you may try to make a right to carry a gun and a right not to be discriminated against equal, but we know that carrying a gun is a positive liberty, whereas not being discriminated against is a more fundamental negative liberty.

      While there is much agreement between the UKIP and BNP manifestos, they are not the same nor entirely similar. The BNP’s background is in British fascism, being historically linked with the National Front. Fascism is still a meaningful concept describing a programme that has elements of radicalism, statism, nationalism, militarism and racism. Different fascisms express these differently, but they are still fascist. UKIP has grown out of ultra-Toryism and euroscepticism, and this gives it a rather different view of things. Nationalism, militarism and racism are possible convergent themes between them, but, importantly, UKIP are not statist, being more inclined towards the right-wing libertarianism that is popular in the US. Labels are meaningful as much as they retain their descriptive power, and as long as we recognise that they change with time and place. After all, a division into Left and Right began in the French Revolutionary National Assembly, but, while its meaning today focuses on modern distinctions, it is fundamentally the same as it was then.

      I am writing because I am concerned that UKIP are not being perceived as the extremists their policies show them to be. While all the attention is given to the BNP. I believe that this attention is warranted. It is not ‘hysteria’ as you call it, but deep anger and concern about racist and hate-fuelled policies and activities. I write because I would like to see a more clear opposition to some of the hate-fuelled polices of UKIP too.

      • Negative liberties is not to have to do something?
        Would that include not *having* to employ blind, pregnant midgets if you don’t want to, in your own business, funded by your own money?
        Everyone keeps harping on about the ‘origins’ of the BNP, as if no political movement or party ever changes.
        Everyone acts as if any change by the “far” right is just a sham veneer, with the ‘real’ policies lurking in the shadows, waiting to ponce on the ‘fooled’ stupid voters.
        Does it matter where the BNP or UKIP started, if they both end up converging on the same (or a very similar) path?
        ‘Fascism’ by definition is economically corporatist, and as far as I can tell, NO ‘far right’ party in Europe advocates corporatism anymore. Anti-fascists are fighting an enemy that simply doesn’t exist.

  8. Negative liberty is the freedom from outside interference. Thus, forcing an employer to employ anyone would be a breach of negative liberty. However, to discriminate between potential employees according to factors that are irrelevant to their ability to carry out the employment would be a breach of the employees’ negative liberties. So, in the example you give, the employer is at fault.

    Seeing as no political movement can make an absolute break from its past, origins are important. You mention corporatism as a factor that has become less important to fascist movements today. It is understandable why it was important to Mussolini as a former syndicalist, or to Hitler as part of his rearmament and war effort. It is also understandable why the BNP have moved from corporatism to suit a British society that values individualism. This does not mean that the BNP aren’t fascist, they are, it is the effect of opportunism. Whether the BNP are fascist depends on how fascism is understood, but they are clearly in the general area of ideology. The other question of whether the BNP should be rigorously resisted depends where one is coming from. As a Christian and someone who respects human dignity, anti-fascism and opposing the BNP is my natural position. As long as there are a policies and ideologies of hate and intolerance like those of the BNP, there is an enemy to resist.

  9. How is *not* employing a blind pregnant midget “interfering” with their liberty? You could argue people have a right to employment (I wouldn’t) but nobody has a “right” to be employed in my *particular* business at this *particular* time. Am I a monopoly? Am I the only bakery in London? Why should I have IMPOSED on me the need to train a blind person where the six hundred different things they need to know are, and always put everything back EXACTLY where the blind person expects it to be or otherwise they can’t get it, even though it’s just 10cm to their left. And adjust all the shelves and counters for their midget height. And employ them when I can see they’re pregnant, rather than someone else, when I know they won’t be able to work for the next 5 months. This is Ri-di-cu-lous! Is this not interfering with MY freedom to make sensible decisions in my business management? How can you say these disabilities are *irrelevant* when they’ll cause so many problems?

    Fascism is BY DEFINITION corporatist. If today’s “fascists” aren’t, then people should stop calling them fascists!!!
    Invent another label forgodsake, don’t distort the meaning of an existing one.

    • I recognise the common rhetorical device you use of the hypothetical ‘blind pregnant midget’, as a way of distancing the other. Let’s be clear, that you are using this rhetoric as a way of rationalising discrimination against ethnic minorities, homosexuals or anyone you happen not to like.

      If an employer refuses to employ someone for reasons other than their capability to do the job, it is discrimination, and is against their liberty to seek employment as anyone else may seek employment. I repeat for you that once the employer has decided to employ someone and has capable candidates, it is discriminatory not to employ someone for superficial reasons. Again, this is not an order to employ a person, or this person, but the principle that an employer must not let external factors influence the decision.

      If a person is unable to fulfil the requirements of a job, they may be discounted. However, an employer should make it reasonable provision for all to fulfil requirements, by providing women’s toilets or lowering the shelves if necessary and possible.

      Of course your example is hyperbolic, but is used as a flimsy device to permit discrimination in the workplace. If a blind person cannot safely and reasonably work in a bakery, they should not be employed there. However, if the employer can make reasonable alterations to the workplace to allow the person to work safely and reasonably, the person should be considered for the job.

      Equally, employment law covers the period a woman must have worked in order to receive maternity pay. It is reasonable not to employ someone if it seems likely that they will be leaving the post after a short time, and this would apply to a pregnant woman who would not be able to claim maternity leave.

      All of these are safeguards that retain the employer’s right to make sensible decisions about their business. They safeguard also the employee’s right to be considered fairly for employment. Whereas you speak of one set of rights, you ignore the other, and that is why you are wrong.

      I believe that fascism is more complex than your insistence of limiting it to one simple aspect. Some of the BNP policies are statist (nationalisations for instance), which could point to a corporatist heritage. Of course, the vote winner among those of a right-wing mindset is individualist libertarianism, and that’s why the BNP don’t want to show corporatist tendencies. Perhaps, you would prefer to be a neofascist like the Italians.

  10. Communists want nationalisation too. Are they Fascists?
    Individualist libertarians would agree with me that my bakery doesn’t have to employ blind, pregnant midgets if I don’t feel like it.
    I’m not a neo-anything. I am closest to libertarian, but not quite (I oppose open borders, free global trade, and support welfare, in fact I think a basic allowance should be paid to every citizen in exchange for privatisation and abolition of worker entitlements like superannuation and leave).
    Leftist insistence on absolutist “principles” (like anti-discrimiation) is precisely what is driving people into the arms of the far right. Keep it up, kids!

    • It’s quite shabby thinking to keep focusing on very fine points of distinction between the BNP’s policy and that of other fascist groups. Nationalism is a programme traditionally advocated by a number of political groups across the political spectrum as a part of a principle of statism or corporatism. The BNP retains these policies that are traditional fascist policies (and, yes, communists as well, but that’s a red herring).

      The label of libertarianism can be used for anti-authoritarianism, but is most prominently used for an emphasis on personal liberties. This is where libertarians try to appear liberal, by emphasizing liberty. However, libertarians tend to be opposed to key social-liberal principles of equality and democracy, because personal liberties are placed over and above the common good. In the same way that you persist in emphasizing the employer’s rights in a situation that contains two people: one is the employer, and other is an obscenely caricatured other. The libertarian idea of liberty is always going to be an unequal one: you have liberty if you can afford it, as it is only the poorest, weakest and most discriminated against that need positive conceptions of liberty that come from the principle of common good.

      In the end, it’s only human not to take the libertarian view to its inevitable conclusion. I don’t even think that Thatcher truly believed that there is no such thing as society. There are clear nationalistic principles in your retention of control over borders and trade. Your approach to welfare seems more to be about buying off workers and keeping the poor this side of revolt, and I’m not sure that there’s any kind of welfare in that, just minimal social-cohesion strategies.

      Your use of the word ‘absolutist’ makes little sense (moral?). If a political ideology is based on good fundamental principles over which it will not compromise, that sounds like political integrity. Anti-discrimination is based on the principle of democratic equality. This requires a positive conception of liberty and the common good, that goes beyond the libertarian principle of just keeping the state out of one’s business.

      The slight increase in BNP and UKIP vote in the last general election was negligible, and accounted for by the higher turnout. Occasionally, the far right play on the fears and negative feelings of the electorate, but still see enough hope around to stop the hate-mongers from getting anywhere.

  11. You are confusing ‘liberal’ with ‘progressive’. Opposing utopian bullies doesn’t make you an elitist hatemonger, just honest and realistic about the imperfect nature of our existence in this world.

    Personal liberty is your natural state unless interfered with (say by draconian do-gooder legislation). This natural liberty is not however a long list of selfish ‘rights’. Your ‘equality’ is simply self-interest, without the common sense. Equality is a dream, liberty is a reality. They are not synonyms.
    Your chasing-your-tail self-justifications are tiresome. With people like you cramming this propaganda down our throuts for decades now, you still haven’t achieved your utopia, nor can you ever do so.
    And the harder you try, the bigger the backlash will eventually be. BNP/UKIP is the tip of the rightist iceberg and your ‘ideology’ is the Titanic. Too big and bold to admit its own potential vulnerability.
    The ‘progressive’ era is coming to an end. Maybe now we can have true liberty, not red-tape enshrined artificial ‘rights’. Enjoy you last gasp.

    • Er, no. ‘Progressive’ is a rather broad and generally meaningless term. Social liberalism emphasizes the place of positive liberty, which is generally absent from libertarianism. Without positive liberty, the only liberty that can exist is that of the status quo. Therefore, if one lacks the opportunities for self-fulfilment, the absence of interference is also the absence of assistance. Without positive liberty there can be no equality, and so liberty is only afforded to a few.

      We recognise the rule of law for the common good necessarily limits personal liberty. As an extreme example, we may not murder or steal. We recognise that the exercise of certain personal liberties may restrict those of others, and so we attempt a compromise between positive and negative liberties. So, if one chooses to discriminate, one is restricting the personal liberty of another. Greater liberty and common good are served by defending against discrimination rather than upholding the personal liberty of the discriminator.

      Then you go into some empty slogans. It’s not surprising that the right is unable to enter into full discussion of liberty, but maintain the one-sided view of liberty for some and not for others. For this is no liberty at all. It is sorry that you end with meaningless hyperbole about icebergs and Titanic, being unable to enter into philosophical discourse. It shows your thinking to be empty.

      It is in the human spirit to be free, but also to show great compassion for others. Humanity is capable of great evil, but it leaves us desolate not to hope that our genius for good is greater and more resilient. Whereas your agenda is one that uses the slogan of liberty to lock us up each in our own fortress and glare hatefully across the water, true liberty is only effective in the dismantling of barriers.

  12. “lock us up each in our own fortress and glare hatefully across the water”? what was that about empty slogans and hyperbole?
    How can I ‘seriously discuss’ anything with someone who thinks equality is actually possible and liberty isn’t possible without equality.

    The common good is just as much served by eliminating all politically correct laws and regulations that restrict liberty and paying all citizens a basic allowance as I suggest. If people are as altruistic as you claim, they will help each other without a regulatory gun to their head.

    Your “opportunities for self-fulfilment” are classist and elitist. A child born poor is still ‘free’ to be themselves, to play games, to read books from the library, to dance to the radio, to love their puppy, and would have no negative self-concept until people like you tell them they’re not good enough unless they go to university and wear an Armani suit.

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