Friday 20 February 2015

What this photo of Nigel Farage doesn't tell you about UKIP

On Tuesday the 17th of February 2015 a few revolting Chelsea fans brought shame upon their football club and, more significantly, shame upon our country when they were filmed repeatedly shoving a black man off the Paris Métro, then singing a song gleefully celebrating how racist they are.

After the incident, efforts were made to track down the guilty parties, and fairly quickly one of them was identified as Josh Parsons, a vocal 21 year old UKIP supporter who was educated at the £30,000 per year Millfield private school in Somerset, who was once photographed with the UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Many people have tried to use this photo in order to attack Nigel Farage as someone who associates with racists, but in my view these efforts are extremely weak, and in fact self-defeating. Nigel Farage is a famous person who is photographed with all kinds of people on a daily basis. There's absolutely no way that he can be held responsible if one of the many people he's been photographed with goes off and does something unacceptable at some point in the future.

Anyone trying to manufacture the conclusion that Nigel Farage is a racist from this particular photo is really stretching the argument well past the bounds of credibility and, in fact, making other critics of UKIP look rather desperate by association. This is pretty ironic stuff because by using this photo to try and make Farage look racist by association, they're making more rational UKIP critics (who prefer to use facts and evidence to criticise the party) look desperate by association with them.

The really sad thing about such weak efforts to taint Nigel Farage by association is that there is such a mountain of evidence out there to criticise UKIP with, meaning that such desperate tactics aren't even remotely necessary.

To give you an illustration of how many real issues there are about UKIP, I'll briefly list a few of them:

Returning to the photo of Nigel Farage with the Chelsea fan from the Paris Métro incident, it's simply not possible to conclude that Nigel Farage is racist from that picture, and any attempt to do so actually undermines the many rational fact-based arguments that can be deployed against UKIP.

It is of course possible to use the photo to illustrate the fact that UKIP is a party that tends to appeal to racists, but then that's an assertion that hardly needs any more supporting evidence. You only have to look at the constant stream of fruitcakes who are thrown out of the party for spouting bigoted nonsense, or at the vile comments that appear so regularly in the comments on UKIP social media pages, in order to see that an awful lot of bigots and racists are undeniably attracted to the party. When it's already so clear that UKIP have a strong appeal to bigots, and there's such a wealth of factual evidence to criticise them with, using a picture that can easily be construed as a "cheap shot" against Nigel Farage is simply not necessary.

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