I have started today feeling more than a little confused. It began when I read the news reports about the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, coming out in support of Donald Trump during an interview for CNN. I am confused, primarily because I can’t work out why the story has made me so angry.
As I sit here at my desk this morning, my freshly brewed cup of coffee steaming nicely beside me, while my cat, Snorky, takes a break from walking over my keyboard to drift off into slumber behind my laptop, I am starting to realise that the source of my anger lies in the fact that I perhaps stupidly, naively, blindly – call it what you will – believed that Nigel Farage was better than that.
Borrowing the four words which politicians love to use – let me be clear. I am not a UKIP supporter, nor am I a Nigel Farage supporter. However, I have, in the past, found myself quite liking Farage for the simple reason that he presents an image that is the antithesis of a politician. A pint in one hand, a cigarette in the other, you can imagine him to be some kind of hybrid between the politically savvy man on the street and Keith Floyd. He also has a habit of turning off the filter between his brain and his mouth, the results of which have often flown in the face of the British stiff upper lip, and have, on more than one occasion, made me laugh. Yet, to use Farage’s own quip to the European Parliament yesterday, I’m not laughing now.
To be fair, I stopped laughing yesterday when Farage failed to condemn the hideous display of racist behaviour played out on a tram in Manchester. Perhaps he chose to switch on the filter between his brain and his mouth, therefore preventing himself from angering his party by saying that there is no place in society for ignorant Neanderthals who take it upon themselves to abuse someone else. Incidentally, when I watched the tram footage yesterday, I was struck by the mock bravery of all those on the tram, those who challenged the behaviour of the societal disgrace once said disgrace had left the tram. Still, in spite of Farage’s failure to condemn such behaviour, I would have liked to believe that he was not so ridiculous and ignorant as to come out in public support of Donald Trump. I would have liked to believe that behind that grinning muppet-frog face, there was an iota of sense. Sadly, no.
To come out and publicly state that Donald Trump, the Cheeto-coloured, racist, sexist, misogynist, heartless, unintelligent, devoid of any class whatsoever, pathetic excuse for a man, would be better for Britain than Obama has been, to me shows Nigel Farage’s abhorrent true colours, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Robert Kilroy-Silk stopped pretending he was nice and allowed his racist self to have full rein.
With Nigel Farage not necessarily at the helm, but certainly in a position of power, post-Brexit Britain is embarking on a dangerous journey – and it scares me. I am not scared for myself (I no longer live in the UK), but I am scared for my family, my Muslim and Hindu friends (the racists wouldn’t know the difference if you drew them a picture), my Moroccan and Turkish and Jamaican friends who have no religion but who nonetheless already feel targeted because of their ethnicity.
Recently, I took a trip to York Castle Museum. One of the feature exhibits of the museum is a mock-up of WWI trenches that you can walk through as you look at weaponry and armoury, getting a sense of the horror of war, and reading the personal testimony of the sacrifices which the soldiers – these brave, ordinary men – made in their fight for freedom and against fascism. At the end of the exhibit, you come out into a circular room, the walls of which are filled with blackboards. Guests are invited to write their thoughts about WWI or war in general, on those boards. I thought about the fact that WWI was supposed to be “the war to end all wars”, and yet, a century on, we are still fighting, still killing each other, still hating on the basis of creed, colour, race or religion. We haven’t learned a thing! What I wrote on the blackboard (see the photo above) was a product of the anger I truly felt. Given the words of Nigel Farage and the silence of those who fail to challenge him, it is an anger which shows no sign of abating.