29/09/2017 13:02 BST | Updated 30/09/2017 05:06 BST

I Wrote The Article About The AfD That Ukip Said Showed It Wasn't Far-Right. Here's Why They're Wrong

Ukip thinks Germany's AfD isn't far-right. They seemed to learn this from a 'left wing Huffington Post' article I wrote, which was read out at conference as proof the AfD is perfectly sensible. Here's why I disagree.

Here are some facts about Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the far-right party that shocked many by winning seats in German's national parliament on Sunday.

One of its most senior members said Germans should be "proud" of what their military did in the Second World War. It ran posters showing a white pregnant woman with the words: "New Germans? We make them ourselves." Another senior member thinks Berlin's memorial to the Jews murdered in the Holocaust should come down.

Ukip thinks Germany's AfD isn't far-right. They seemed to learn this from an article from 'the left wing Huffington Post', which was read out at conference as proof the AfD is perfectly sensible.

Addressing delegates in Torquay on Friday, interim leader Steve Crowther read from a piece earlier this week that looked at five of AfD policies to paint a picture of how the party's hardline stance translated into action. He asked: Was this the best the left wing media could do?

steve crowther

Steve Crowther addressed Ukip conference in Torquay

Crowther saying AfD isn't far-right may have something to do with the fact a 'senior member' of it was about to address Ukip's conference. Or that Nigel Farage addressed AfD supporters to praise their 'historic achievement' of winning seats in Germany's parliament. Or that, when both main British parties are behind Brexit, the only future Ukip sees for itself as further to the right and it wants to learn from the AfD. Or that it was possibly about to elect a hardline anti-Islam candidate as leader and Crowther wants to pre-empt any name calling.

By any common definition, the AfD is far-right. It's a mantel no one embraces and or defines in detail.


AfD co-founder Alexander Gauland said Germans could be 'proud' of what the military did in the Second World War

Reading its manifesto, in which AfD says Islam was in a "culture war" with the West, reveals a party on a culture war footing.

AfD's manifesto calls Equal Pay Day and quotas for better female representation "propaganda" against the traditional family, which it repeatedly endorses. Another person to call equal pay "propaganda" is alt right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Ukip is nowhere near as devoutly social conservative on the issue.

Ukip's manifesto for the general election mentioned "Islam" 11 times. Every mention is preceded by "radical" or followed by "ism". You can argue this is dog whistling to Islamophobes. You may be right. But it isn't overtly saying Islam is un-British or unwelcome.

AfD's manifesto mentioned "Islam" 37 times. It berates the "special rights" Muslim children supposedly have at schools. "Islam does not belong to Germany," it says - a slogan it put on posters during its campaign for the Bundestag. "Its expansion and the ever-increasing number of Muslims in the country are viewed by the AfD as a danger to our state, our society, and our values," the manifesto says. What do you call a dog whistle when it's so loud humans can hear it?

The manifesto grudgingly concedes that "many Muslims" are "law-abiding and well-integrated". These people belong to Germany. Islam does not. Ukip and AfD's manifestoes share the same small c conservative sentiments at times: hostility to what they see as unchecked social change that is eroding something precious while leftwing liberals look the other way. But on Islam, the difference between Populist Right and far-right shines through.

They both fear radical Islam but Ukip doesn't seem to think that defines Islam. It doesn't bother with platitudes about how some Muslims lead lives Ukip deems acceptable.

For AfD, Islam is a fundamental threat. Ukip might soon think the same. It came close to electing Anne Marie Waters, who co-founded Pegida UK - an import of the German Islamophobic group - and has argued Islam is a fundamentally violent religion. She came second in the leadership contest but even without her, Ukip could still move to the right.

Maybe at next year's conference, Ukip will pride itself on embracing AfD's hardline views. The leader could again cite the charges of 'leftwing' media for delegates to scoff at. But the allegation someone is 'far-right' will still be something people can judge for themselves, regardless of who is making it.