Sunday, 18 May 2014

Ukippers say the funniest things


As most Another Angry Voice followers know, I have a long track record of criticising the four main neoliberal political parties (the Lib-Lab-Cons and UKIP). I obviously get a lot of dissatisfied comments from supporters of these parties, but the shower of abuse, poorly researched assertions, assumption laden rubbish, fallacious reasoning, conspiracy theorising and outright slander from Ukippers whenever I dare to criticise their party, far exceeds anything I've ever experienced before, even from the Tory faithful.

I'll begin by outlining the typical crap arguments proffered by supporters of the Lib-Lab-Cons before moving on to detail some of the incredible stuff that Ukippers come out with.
 

Lib-Lab-Con arguments

Here are some of the most commonly repeated responses from followers of the three Westminster establishment parties that appear when I post articles criticising their party.
Labour - "mustn't divide the left"
The typical tribalist Labour response to any kind of criticism of New Labour, is that Labour are the lesser of two evils, and that by daring to criticise them in any way I'm guilty of "dividing the left" and "helping the Tories". This is a rubbish argument because the Labour party was usurped by a bunch of Thatcherites in 1994, meaning that anyone labouring under the delusion that Labour is still a left-wing party is bordering on political illiteracy.

If anyone is guilty of "helping the Tories" it's actually the Labour party themselves for continuing the Thatcherisation of Britain for 13 long years, and because they continue to assist the Tories by doing things like helping Iain Duncan Smith pass his vile retroactive law through Parliament at lightning speed.

The argument that we should all support Labour because they are not as bad as the Tories is completely hopeless because "the lesser of two evils" is still evil, right?
Lib-Dems - "we're mitigating the Tories"
The Lib-Dems are an extremely defensive, and ever dwindling bunch. They keep telling themselves that by forming a coalition with the Tories, and helping them push through some of the most illiberal, unpopular and vindictive legislation in decades (secret courts, the NHS sell-off bill, the Gagging Law, Bedroom Tax, the Royal Mail fire sale, Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive sanctions regime ...) they've somehow mitigated the worst that the Tories would have done on their own.

The problem with this justification is that "what the Tories would have done on their own" is a complete irrelevance, because David Cameron somehow managed to not win the 2010 general election, despite having one of the least popular men in Britain as his opponent. The truth is that the Lib-Dems have enabled the Tories with the five year fixed parliament they rigged together.

Had the Lib-Dems agreed to sign off on the Tory budgets, but made the Tories run a minority government, they could have gleefully shot down every vile piece of Tory legislation, winning themselves plaudits and actually strengthening their own political position for the inevitable repeat general election in late 2010/early 2011. Their eagerness to jump into bed with the Tories without drawing some serious red lines first has done an enormous amount of damage to their own party, and hastened their descent back towards political irrelevance.
Tories - "Cleaning up Labour's mess"
The most common Tory justification narrative is the endlessly repeated "Labour bankrupted Britain and we're just cleaning up their mess" mantra. The first thing to note is that claims that Britain is/or has recently been bankrupt are outright lies. It's not surprising that so many Tories repeat these lies, after all, their leader gets away with repeating them time and again without a word of criticism from the parliamentary authorities or the mainstream media.

The second thing to note is that "the mess" would have been a whole lot worse had the Tories been in charge immediately before the financial sector meltdown, because the only criticism the Tories ever had of Gordon Brown's reckless financial sector deregulations, was that he didn't deregulate things far enough.

Labour certainly mismanaged the economy between 1997 and the global financial sector meltdown in 2008, but to imagine that the even more free-market obsessed Tories would have done any better is pure delusion, especially since George Osborne has managed to rack up more public debt in his first four years than New Labour built up in the thirteen that came before.
UKIP arguments

I rarely mentioned UKIP in the first three years of writing this blog, but in the few months before the May 2014 European elections I decided to do a bit more UKIP coverage, since I thought they were very likely to beat the Tories into third place, and perhaps even beat Labour to finish with the most votes of all.

The response
from Ukippers to my critical articles has been absolutely jaw dropping. I'm well used to people coming at me with all manner of dismally poor arguments, but the tide of borderline incoherent rhetoric from Ukippers has truly been something to behold. In the following sections I'll detail some of the most common examples.


General abuse

Every political party has their share of low intellect types who resort to foul mouthed abuse at the first sign of something they disagree with, however the proportion of criticisms that are nothing more than personal insults is never higher than when I put my head above the parapet and criticise UKIP.

A lot of pages tend to delete these kinds of personal insults, but I leave them there for all to see. Nothing I could say about the UKIP mentality could possibly be as effective as allowing Ukippers to demonstrate it themselves by hurling a load of abuse at me for daring to point out stuff like the fact that UKIP subscribes to exactly the same Thatcherite ideology as the Lib-Lab-Cons, and that UKIP is bankrolled by a pack of former Tory party donors.


Confirmation Bias

The tendency for Ukippers to wade into the comments thread without even bothering to read the article that the thread is about soon became apparent. Eventually I began posting links about UKIP with very specific warnings noting that it would be more than obvious that they hadn't bothered to read the article if they just wade in like that, and all they would be doing is demonstrating the fact that Ukippers are so intellectually lazy that they will refuse to read anything that threatens to undermine their pathetically fragile worldviews. Yet still they kept coming, shouting their mouths off on comments threads about articles they won't even read.

The absolute refusal to read a link because they suspect the content is something that they won't like is a clear case of confirmation bias in action (they'll only read things they already agree with). However the ranting in the comments thread about the article they've refused to even read is quite extraordinary behaviour that just goes to show how so many Ukippers are prepared to shout their mouths off about (or vote in favour of) things that they have absolutely no intention of properly researching.



Denial of reality

One extremely common Ukipper tactic seems to be to deny reality completely. Several of them have made sneery "the UKIP manifesto hasn't even been written yet, so there!" comments whenever anyone dares criticise UKIP policy.

The main problem with these assertions is that (after Nigel Farage publicly dismissed their previous manifesto as "drivel") UKIP hastily cobbled together an absolute joke of a "manifesto" for the Euro elections, which consists of just 12 pages - mainly pictures, unsubstantiated bullet points, immigration fearmongering and silly "I defected to UKIP because ..." quotes. The single longest section in the whole "manifesto" was a two page "I'm Voting UKIP" window poster!

Even if this absolute joke of a manifesto didn't exist (which it does), not having a manifesto before a major election is hardly something to be gloating about is it?

The fact that so many Ukippers have denied that this UKIP manifesto even exists is yet another glaring example of how little research Ukippers are prepared to put in before spouting off.


Just making stuff up

Many Ukippers resort to the age old strategy of just making things up.

One of the most common made up Ukipper "facts" is the accusation that the UK gets "absolutely nothing back" from the £billions that go to the EU. It is perfectly fair to argue that what the UK gets in return is not a good deal, but to pretend that the UK gets "nothing at all" in return is to tell an outright lie. I've called several Ukippers out on this lie, yet they've carried on spreading it, even after having been confronted.

Another classic Ukipper made up fact is the claim that UKIP are the "only" party offering a referendum on the EU. Here is a selection of other parties offering a referendum on the EU:

  • The Green Party ("I support a referendum on our membership of the EU because I am pro-democracy." - Caroline Lucas) 
  • No2EU - Yes to Democracy (a left-wing anti-EU coalition)
  • Plaid Cymru (a referendum for Wales)
  • Socialist Labour Party (advocates withdrawal from the EU)
  • We Demand a Referendum Now (read the name)
  • An Independence from Europe Party (founded by a former UKIP MEP)
  • Harmony Party (another anti-EU party)
  • Liberty GB Party (yet another anti-EU party)
  • The Tories (however after "no more top-down reorganisations of the NHS", I'm disinclined to believe any of Slimy Dave's promises)
  • BNP (I certainly wouldn't advise voting BNP, but to pretend that they're not offering a referendum would be to lie)
  • Britain First (Another right-wing extremist, anti-EU party)
Given that UKIP has blathered the nation in posters featuring made up claims that all of the 26 million unemployed people in Europe want to come and work in the UK, It's hardly surprising that Ukippers like to just make things up too.
 

If their political party is prepared to just make stuff up as they go along, it's hardly surprising that their supporters seem to think that just making up facts to suit their argument is an acceptable debating tactic.



Conspiracies

One of the most common accusations leveled at me by Ukippers is that I'm part of an establishment plot to undermine UKIP, and that I'm only criticising UKIP because I'm "scared" of them.

The idea that some bloke from Yorkshire they've never heard of, who has never once appeared in the mainstream media (me) is part of an establishment plot to undermine an "outsider" who is a privately educated former stockbroker and Tory party activist, with two weekly newspaper columns and more appearances on BBC Question time in 2014 than anyone else apart from the host, is so absurd that surely only a Ukipper could believe it.

Anyone who is remotely familiar with my work knows that I'm a persistent critic of the three Westminster establishment parties on the grounds that they all adhere rigidly to the same bankrupt neoliberal ideology.

My main criticism of UKIP is that they are adherents of exactly the same neoliberal economic ideology as the Westminster establishment. Therefore, if we're going to go in for conspiracy theories, how about this: UKIP is just a front organisation for the establishment designed to hoover up the protest votes of the angry and politically illiterate. That's actually a much more plausible conspiracy isn't it?


The accusation that I'm part of an establishment plot against UKIP because I'm scared is half right though, I am scared of UKIP. Not because they're a threat to the Thatcherite establishment, but because they're even more fanatical about the bankrupt ideology of Thatcherism than the Westminster establishment are. Anyone who has paid any attention at all during the last 35 disastrous years of politics by the neoliberal rulebook, would be rightly afraid of a party that is even more enthusiastic about it than the ruling establishment are.
 

Meta-slander

Several Ukippers have shown up to make false accusations of slander, without actually making the slightest effort to present any evidence at all relating to who I have supposedly slandered, and what my slanderous comments might have been.
 

The way slander and libel laws work is that you have to have evidence to back up the assertions you make about living people. If you can't present the evidence you've used to make your assertions, you can be done for slander/libel in the courts.
 

As an independent blogger I've always worked hard to avoid making any accusations that could be construed as slander or libel (if I get sued, I've got no publisher to pick up the tab for me). If I don't have the evidence to back up an assertion, I simply wont make it.

Tarring a person as a slanderer simply because you don't like something they've said is actually a slanderous thing to do, because it is clearly an unfounded attack on their reputation. Unless you can show that you have reasonable grounds to believe your accusation of slander is true (ie proof that a specific reputation damaging assertion has been made, and a refusal of the accused to provide any evidence to back up their assertion) then you're actually guilty of slander yourself.

The term I've come up with to describe this common Ukipper tactic of making slanderous accusations of slander is meta-slander.



Persecution complexes

One of the most common themes in the Ukipper psyche is the persecution complex, which is founded on the delusion that somehow the more white, heterosexual, male, and wealthy a person is, the more they are discriminated against by "the establishment". The fact that the vast majority of establishment professions (politicians, bankers, corporate executives, judges, barristers, top civil servants, media executives ...) are all heavily dominated by white, heterosexual wealthy males doesn't seem to factor into this delusion at all.

The most distasteful example of this kind feeble self-pitying nonsense was one Ukipper who compared criticism of UKIP to the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people.

This mindbogglingly hyperbolic comparison is offensive in so many ways it would be impossible to list them all, so I won't even try to bother, I'll just stick to one.

The thread in which this comparison was made was about a UKIP councilor who had abused the complaints procedure at a local school in order to try to get a teacher sacked for having dared to stand up to his tubthumping rhetoric, and the comments thread moved on to discuss another UKIP councilor who had suggested on Twitter that if we start shooting "poofters", this would somehow prove that being gay is not genetic.

One might have some amount of justification for using terms terms like "fascist" to describe the behaviour of these UKIP politicians, but to use comparisons to the Nazi Holocaust in an attempt to smear anyone who dares criticise this kind of vile behaviour is disgusting and offensive.

Imagine the size of the persecution complex necessary in order to imagine your own suffering to be the equivalent to that of a victim of a Nazi concentration camp, simply because somebody criticises a member of a political party you support!

Marxist fearmongering


Several of the Ukipper regulars on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page have repeatedly made claims that the country is being run by Marxists, and put the blame for all of the problems in the UK onto our supposedly communist overlords.

What makes this delusion so remarkable is the fact that 
for 35 long years the UK has actually been run by governments that have rigidly adhered to the right-wing economic ideology of neoliberalism, ever since Margaret Thatcher introduced it in 1979.

That some people are so hopelessly confused that they believe people like Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron have been our Marxist overlords is worrying stuff.

Have the British people become so dumbed-down that they actually believe ludicrous politically illiterate crap like this? Well apparently, quite a few Ukippers have.


Talking in absolutes

Simple minded people like to think about things in absolutist terms. Things are either black or they're white, there is no space in the simple mind for different shades of grey, therefore something like the EU is either perfectly good, or pure evil. Here's an example of this kind of absolutist Ukipper thinking.
"just accept that there is no bad to come from leaving the EU, only positives will come from it!"
You hardly have to be the brain of Britain to realise that doing something as dramatic as withdrawing the UK from the EU would have literally millions upon millions of consequences. To maintain that every last one of these myriad consequences is going to be positive is fantastical thinking.

It's perfectly possible to argue that some, many or most of the consequences would be positive, but to argue that they will all be positive is a level of absolutist thinking that's beneath childlike.

The astonishing thing is, that even after it was pointed out to them that this is an example of lazy absolutist propaganda the person persisted on drooling on and on about how he was presenting "facts", which in this instance must be some kind of lazy-minded euphemism for "ridiculously simplistic and unsubstantiated propaganda".


This is a "Hate group"

Several Ukippers have taken exception to my criticisms of UKIP and attempted to smear the Another Angry Voice page as a "hate group", which is a tad ironic because in the weeks before the 2014 European Elections the vast majority of the hateful comments on my page were depositd by Ukippers. Here's an example:
 "Get the Muslims and foreign scum out of England is all this country needs"
It's quite amazing that some Ukippers can declare my page a "hate group" because I dare to criticise UKIP, whilst so many of their fellow Ukippers seem to have got Another Angry Voice confused with the public hate fest that is the Britain First Facebook page (which presumably, in the Ukipper mentality is a "love group") and left their hate fueled droppings all over my page by mistake.
   
The Censorship fallacy

Quite a few Ukippers have resorted to the censorship fallacy and accused me of being a "fascist" for daring to criticise what they've said. The absurd thing about this stance is that if I was minded to censor them, as admin of the page I could easily just delete all the Ukipper comments and ban them from ever coming back, thus turning my page into a closed ideology echo chamber just like the UKIP Facebook page.

Invocation of the censorship fallacy relies on a fundamental misunderstanding of freedom of speech.

Freedom of Speech
is the liberty to say what you like, not a freedom from any kind of criticism if the views you freely express happen to be ill thought out rubbish.
   
Fascist sentiments

The thing that really puts into perspective the Ukipper victim complex which allow them to imagine themselves the victims of a modern day Holocaust and call me a "fascist" for daring to contradict them, is the tendency for other Ukippers to express openly fascistic sentiments. I've seen countless examples of openly expressed fascism from Ukippers on my page, with the main target groups being Muslims, homosexuals, immigrants and "lefties".

"Can we start a mass culling of all left wing commie twats?"
This foul mouthed call for the systematic killing of political opponents really doesn't really need any further analysis at all does it?

All I need say is that the mindset of anyone that imagines themself a victim of fascist persecution, whilst supporting the same political party as so many people who spout openly fascist nonsense like this, is fascinatingly warped.


Straw-manning

Straw manning is one of the most pathetic debating strategies in the book of bad debating tactics. For those who are unfamiliar with the term "straw-man", it's the tactic of making up a rubbish argument, ascribing it to your debating opponent and then attacking the rubbish argument that your opponent never even made. Here's an example on a thread about why UKIP has failed to oppose the TTIP corporate power grab:
"it's hilarious to think that you all believe we will just cease trading if we leave the EU"
The fact is that absolutely nobody on the thread had said anything even remotely resembling "we will just cease trading if we leave the EU". Not only did the Ukipper just completely make up a rubbish argument, he ascribed it to everybody, when absolutely nobody had actually said it.
   

You called us racist

One of the most common Ukipper debating tactics is to completely ignore what has actually been said in favour of pretending that the very specific and sourced criticism they've been presented with is nothing more than an accusation that all Ukippers are "racist".

I have never made such an obvious generalisation (generalisations make the foundations of very weak arguments), yet so many Ukippers seem to think that it's a debate winning strategy to completely misrepresent what I've actually said (eg. "Ukip is bankrolled by former Tory party donors") as an accusation that "all Ukippers are racist", and then attack the assertion I have never made instead of addressing what I actually said.

I've come across plenty of rubbish straw-man arguments in my time, but simply redefining any criticism of UKIP into accusations of racism is probably the most egregious.

   

Humourlessness


One thing I've learned in the last few weeks is what an appallingly humourless bunch Ukippers can be. Even when it is absolutely clear that it's just a joke, you can guarantee that a load of Ukippers are going to get their knickers in a twist about it.

Take the picture to the right as an example, which compares UKIP with the Standing at the Back Dressed Stupidly and Looking Stupid party off Blackadder. Here's one of the actual Ukipper responses after I posted it on Facebook:

"I see the establishment are running scared of losing there 'perks' and now are trying to slander a legitimate party try to stop people voting for anyone other than themselves."

Which in just one (slightly garbled) sentence neatly illustrates several common Ukipper traits; humourlessness (it's clearly a joke), conspiracy theorising (that this image is part of an establishment plot), lazy assumptions (assuming that I'm part of the establishment) refusal to research what they are talking about (I don't want to stop people voting for "anyone other than" the establishment as claimed, I actively encourage people to vote alternative) and meta-slander (there is nothing slanderous in the image at all, and to suggest that there is could actually be construed as slander!).

Right, I'm definitely voting UKIP now!


Perhaps the most absurd of all Ukipper responses is to claim that whatever has been said is their primary justification for voting UKIP.

Here's an actual Ukipper comment that appeared below the Standing at the Back Dressed Stupidly and Looking Stupid picture:

"This has just confirmed my vote for ukip.... So they actually think by telling us if we vote for ukip we must all be racist and xenophobic. Really?!!!"
Aside from noting that the joke image makes absolutely no accusation that Ukippers are "racist and xenophobic" as claimed, it is an insult to the memories of those who fought and died to protect our democratic freedoms to declare that you're going to vote for one particular party because you took insult at a joke picture you saw on Facebook.

This kind of "I'll show you" statement is utterly absurd because it hasn't shown me anything at all apart from the fact that the person uttering it is a complete idiot*.


A Football Analogy

Mark Twain (one of my favoirite smartarses) once said that you should "never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."

Even though it's a great quote I have two problems with it. Firstly, if you allow stupid people to publicly spout rubbish unopposed, they'll never realise the stupidity of what they are saying, and what is worse, other people might end up getting infected with their stupidity too.

The second problem is that I really enjoy debate. Obviously debate with people who are capable of formulating rational arguments makes for a more challenging and exciting contest, but ruthlessly tearing apart the arguments presented by fools has its own measure of satisfaction.

To use a football analogy, it's like the difference between an end-to-end 3-3 draw between two rivals for the championship, and a hopelessly one sided game in which a quality team thrashes a relegation certainty by a cricket score. The first makes for a much more exciting contest, but the fans are hardly going to complain after watching their team score a shedload of goals against a rubbish side are they?

The footballing analogy falls down somewhat when we consider that our facts, references and rational analyses are as completely meaningless to intellectually lazy people as their made up facts, blatant misrepresentations, conspiracy theories and empty rhetoric are to us.

It's as if we've hammered a couple of dozen goals into their net during the game, but they've gone away feeling like the winners because they ignored the conventional rules of the sport, refused to count the goals as points, and instead counted all of the fouls they had committed during the game as points for themselves.

 

Conclusion

I've never made claims that all Ukippers are "racists and xenophobes" because, as I said before - lazy generalisations make the foundations of very weak arguments.

All of the comments I've discussed in this article have been said by actual UKIP supporters, but I'm not going to extrapolate that all Ukippers think in this kind of intellectually lazy manner. I'm just going to say that the the majority of the ones who have shown up on Another Angry Voice certainly have used utterly ludicrous arguments like the ones I've detailed above.
 

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* = I very rarely resort to outright insults, but in this case I think it's more than justified.
         

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