The controversial protest that forced Nigel Farage and his family to flee a Kent pub appears to have backfired, as politicians and commentators who oppose Ukip line up to condemn the behaviour of the demonstrators.
Farage called the protesters "scum" after he, his wife Kirsten Mehr and their two children, aged 15 and 10, fled Sunday lunch yesterday.
Though the protesters said they hadn't seen any children and claimed the Ukip leader was "manipulating" events, Nick Clegg - whose anti-Farage credentials are pretty strong - tweeted those opposing Ukip should "leave his wife and kids out of it".
I disagree with Nigel Farage too but leave his wife and kids out of it. Intimidating a politician's family is never acceptable.— Nick Clegg (@nick_clegg) March 23, 2015
Other commentators who professed little or no agreement on Ukip's positions were not impressed with the demonstrators, saying they should be "ashamed" of themselves and calling them "morons" for bringing "near universal sympathy" for Farage.
Appalling behaviour by protestors against Farage's family. They should be ashamed of themselves http://t.co/VZLhq8BhJN— Ian Dunt (@IanDunt) March 22, 2015
Hearty congratulations to the uncivilised morons who have managed to generate near universal sympathy for Nigel Farage— Kevin Hague (@kevverage) March 23, 2015
Very rarely agree with Nigel Farage. But when he calls people who harassed him and his family "scum" he's correct.— Dan Hodges (@DPJHodges) March 22, 2015
This Farage story stinks. No matter how hateful the father, if you terrorise his children you lose every single argument every single time.— James O'Brien (@mrjamesob) March 22, 2015
James Kirkup, The Telegraph's Executive Editor for Politics, said he disagreed with Ukip's stances but said "abusing" Farage in front of his family was "wholly beyond the pale".
"I know Mr Farage and his party hold some views that some (many?) people find repellent. I make no secret of my strong disagreement with Ukip on several of its central arguments, especially immigration," he wrote.
"But believing someone is wrong is no excuse for abusing them, verbally, physically or otherwise. And doing so in the presence of their family is wholly beyond the pale."
Kirkup's Telegraph colleague Tim Stanley, who said he was not a Ukip supporter, wrote: "Giving some rationale for the group’s actions, a protest organiser said: 'We will not succumb to [Farage’s] prejudice. We will create the world we want to live in. A world beyond Ukip.'
"Whether or not the rest of us would want to live in that world is another question. The idea that because X subjectively judges Y to be oppressive means that X has a right to silence Y is, ironically, a very oppressive point of view."
A Twitter account called @Dan_Glass appeared, purporting to belong to one of the protest organisers.
It began receiving a torrent of criticism, being told the protest had "backfired" and prominent blogger and publisher Iain Dale called him a "fascist prick".
@Dan__Glass You're a fascist prick. The Guardian should be ashamed to be associated with you.— Iain Dale (@IainDale) March 22, 2015
The fact that the account was set up after the protest and its first tweet was: "Great bantz ruining UKIP Leader @Nigel_Farage's fascist lunch break. He ran and we cheered. Lulz," suggested it was a fake.
@Sheaner47 be silent and grateful I do not unleash my martial art expertise onto you. I am a judo blue belt and have every Bruce Lee film— Dan Glass (@Dan__Glass) March 23, 2015