Nigel Farage sounds increasingly like a man who walks around in Enoch Powell underpants. His latest wheeze involves making doctors currently working within the NHS from outwith the UK take mandatory tests on their English language skills, on pain of being sacked. This is despite the fact that doctors in this category must already attain proficiency in English according to an internationally recognised language test.
The Ukip leader's contribution to the national conversation on the state of the NHS is a disgraceful attempt to turn an institution which by its very nature is colour blind, as well as race, religion, ethnicity, and nationality neutral, into another cheap and tawdry opportunity to whip up hysteria over immigration and the presence of 'the other' among us. It leaves no doubt that the Farage phenomenon - the cheeky-chappy anti establishment bon vivant persona of which the mainstream media seems so fond - has gone too far. In truth he is more akin to a swivel-eyed, foaming at the mouth xenophobe, a man whose every utterance is an affront to common decency, along with the country's proud history of standing up for and with minorities when they come in for the kind of demonisation and stigmatisation that is Mr Farage's bread and butter.
The success that he and Ukip have had in positing not immigration but hysteria over immigration as the dominant issue in the nation's political life will go down as one of the most regressive periods in British postwar history. The aforementioned Enoch Powell could not have dreamed of enjoying such traction over the nation's political discourse. But what Powell, the symbol and embodiment of acceptable anti-immigrant sentiment and racism within polite society, did not have at his disposal was a compliant media and a political class so lacking in the guts to take on the issue with the requisite principal and rigour.
Migration has been a feature of the human condition for as long as human beings have been on the planet. It has played an especially positive role in Britain since the end of the Second World War, responsible for transforming, modernising, and enriching society out of all recognition. Unfortunately, and inevitably, however, there have always been those - from hardcore racists and fascists to bigots, xenophobes, and political opportunists - who have covered themselves in the Union Jack to attack, slander, and smear human beings for the crime of attempting to improve their lives and their lives of their children.
The most offensive aspect of Nigel Farage's views is the fact they are rooted in the dehumanisation of some of the most vulnerable people in society. This 'man of the people', whose background is City of London and whose party is largely funded by City fat-cats, is intent on sowing division and discord between immigrants and non-immigrants, when the real divide in society is between the 1 percent and 99 percent, those who have wealth and power and those who don't. In a time of austerity, when this polarisation is even more keenly felt due to the policies being implemented a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich, as it takes the opportunity to effect the transferance of wealth from the poor to the rich, this is no accident. Ukip, you see, is not as it tries to present itself the refreshingly honest alternative to a corrupt and sclerotic status quo it. It is on the contrary the ugly sister of an ever more desperate and extreme Tory Party as it drags us back to the nineteenth century.
Two million people from Britain are living and working across Europe, taking advantage of the very EU legislation on the free movement of people which Farage and his party want to end. As for the 'quality' immigrants which Ukip wants to ensure are the only ones allowed into the UK, they clearly haven't toured British ex-pat communities in Spain, Australia, or California recently. In fact if they did they would no doubt find a ready and willing cohort of new members, given the knuckle-dragging propensities of your average ex-pat. Here I speak from experience as a former migrant to the US.
The NHS stands as the very antithesis of the worldview promoted by Nigel Farage. It could not function without immigration and therefore an attack on the those from outwith the UK who help to ensure it remains the glowing testament to social and human solidarity it has been for generations, this is an attack on all of us.