A week is a long time in politics, Harold Wilson famously remarked.
Last week, I wrote a blog post entitled "The Great Ukip Racism Debate - Debunking the Six Main Myths", in which I concluded with the line: "[W]hether or not Ukip is a racist party, rather than, say, a party containing racists, is a debate for the pedants and the literalists".
Perhaps I was too generous. Seven days later, three new pieces of evidence have emerged to bolster the arguments of those - on the left and the right - who say Ukip is indeed a racist party, actively courting the votes of racists.
1) THE VOTERS
If Ukip isn't a racist party, why does it attract racist voters? Academics Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford, authors of the new book 'Revolt On The Right', have gone out of their way to defend Ukip voters from the charge of 'racism' but check out this new poll from You Gov:
26% of Brits (inc 51% of Ukip supporters) say government should encourage immigrants and their families to leave. pic.twitter.com/1hsyYqkq2c— Joe Twyman (@JoeTwyman) May 14, 2014
A majority of Ukip voters, compared to a quarter of the British public as a whole, wants the UK government to "encourage immigrants and their families to leave Britain".
Telling settled immigrants, both British citizens and permanent residents, as well as their British-born offspring, to 'go home' is good ol' fashioned racism, plain and simple.
Incidentally, according to YouGov, a whopping 87% of Ukip voters agreed with the statement: "All further immigration to Britain should be halted". This, of course, is a policy advocated by only one political party: the British National Party (BNP).
2) THE ACTIVIST
"I don't care what you call us but from this moment on, please, do not ever call us a racist party," Ukip leader Nigel Farage declared last week, flanked by a number of ethnic-minority MEP and local council candidates.
Perhaps he should have a word then with Sanya-Jeet Thandi, self-described "British-born Indian supporter of Ukip" and poster girl of Ukip's youth wing. Thandi, referred to by Farage in 2011 as "a rising star of the party", wrote an explosive column for the Guardian on Tuesday in which she declared: "[T]he direction in which the party is going is terrifying: Ukip has descended into a form of racist populism that I cannot bring myself to vote for."
She continued: "Ukip is exploiting the stupidity of ignorant anti-immigrant voters for electoral gain. While the party deliberately attracts the racist vote, I refuse to be associated with them."
3) THE LEADER
"To his credit," I wrote in my earlier blog, Farage has publicly and repeatedly "rejected" offers of cooperation from far-right racists and anti-Semites - from the BNP at home to the Front National (FN) abroad.
Yet, in private, it seems, he's been saying otherwise. Don't take my word from it. FN leader Marine Le Pen has told the Financial Times that the two had met a number of times and had positive discussions. "I have had good contacts with him, and we met members of Ukip in London," she said. "There are Ukip members who don't understand his aggression against us."
I bet they don't. The reality is that as long as there are Ukip members who are quite fond of the FN, or want to do deals with the BNP; as long as there are non-white Ukip members who can't bring them themselves to vote Ukip because of its "racist populism"; as long as the party continues to "deliberately" attract (court?) voters who want to send immigrants 'home', the party will find it difficult to shake the 'racist' label.
Then again, whether that matters in terms of electoral success come 22 May and the European Parliament elections is another matter.Suggest a correction