Double Standards

It has been interesting to see the frenzy of media indignation over Nigel Farage being shouted at, booed, heckled, and eventually escorted away by the police when he visited Edinburgh yesterday.

He was supposedly there to drum up support for a UKIP candidate standing in a by-election. But as that by-election is some 180km away in Aberdeen, it seems rather more likely that he was doing his bit to persuade people to vote No in the independence referendum. Why else would he be talking about the Union Jack being "extinguished from Scotland forever"? There's a good selection of links here, and this is a video of it:


Clearly upset by what they thought of him, Nigel Farage called those who told him to go back home "anti-English", "anti-British" and "fascist scum", and the usual media have picked up on that theme with a vengeance, saying how unacceptable it is for a leader of a popular party in England not to be treated with the respect they think he deserves.


What they have not picked up on is that, on the very same day, a Conservative MP interviewed on ITV Wales' Sharp End told us that if a certain politician dared to come to his part of Wales to present a different view on exactly the same subject of the EU, framed in exactly the same terms of English nationalism, people would also protest. In fact he imagined these protests would be so fierce that the politician concerned would, to quote him exactly, "be lucky if he got out alive".


Let's be charitable and assume that Simon Hart was just trying to "big-up" an imagined strength of feeling, and that Carwyn Jones would not actually be lynched, or even suffer any form of physical injury.

However, if what he said had any meaning, it is clear that he at least expected—and would probably condone—the protesters shouting, booing and heckling him to such an extent that the police might be called in to escort him away.

So why is it unacceptable for people to express their feelings against one politician with whom they disagree, but apparently quite acceptable for people with the opposite opinion (in Simon Hart's imagination, at least) to express similar feelings towards a different politician?


And what's the big deal, anyway? People in Scotland certainly don't have time for politicians like Nigel Farage. People in west Wales might well not have much time for politicians like Carwyn Jones. Leaving unpopular politicians with no illusions about what you think of them is a healthy part of democracy.

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kp said...

The people of Scotland may well not have much time for Nigel Farage. But what they do have time for and what they do have a need for is the rule of law.

This weeks events have set back the case for Scottish independence by at least one generation.

We must not make the same mistake.

MH said...

I can see why you call yourself KP, KP. Doesn't Scotland have a perfectly good legal system already? And aren't the police in the video evidence of Scotland's commitment to maintain law and order?

Would you really have wanted them to arrest Nigel Farage rather than just escort him away? If being rude to people and calling them names is a criminal offence, most of the population would have a criminal record.

That's the beauty of it. From your perspective, just as from the perspective of the media I pointed to, it might well look like a setback for Scottish independence. But from a Scottish perspective the opposite will be true ... and it is those living in Scotland, not anywhere else, who will vote in 2014.

Nigel Farage showed that any Scottish perspective was a closed book to him. Look at what happened in his radio interview. He saw perfectly ordinary questions from even the institutionally biased, pro-unionist BBC as "hostile". The same inability (or refusal) to see things from a perspective other than their own explains these editorials from the Mail and Telegraph.

UKIP's rise in England is a reflexion of a rising English nationalism; though, sadly, it is the nationalism that naturally sees England, Britain and the UK as different words for the same thing, only acknowledges a difference when it's pointed out to them, but then immediately reverts back because it's too deeply ingrained into their way of thinking for them to change it. There is a better English nationalism, but its voice has been all but drowned out. That's why, when UKIP fight for "the UK" (and the Tories then follow UKIP, and Labour then follow the Tories ... with the mainstream media cheering them all on) they are in fact breaking up the very thing they think they're fighting for.

As I want to see the UK break up, I'm happy to let them do it.

Jac o' the North, said...

When I first read about the Farage incident I imagined hundreds of protesters. What the film made clear was that there were no more than a few dozen involved.

It reminded me of something I saw with my own eyes in Aberystwyth, in 1996, when the English queen came to open an extension to the National Library. There were protests, certainly, but the whole thing was called off, Beti whisked away by helicopter, because 'her safety could not be guaranteed'. Which was overstating both the scale of and danger posed by the protest.

In both incidents, the police and / or security services over-reacted. In so doing they helped paint a picture of 'violent and intolerant "nationalism"'.

The Aberystwyth incident was just a year before the devolution referendum, and the Farage incident just over a year from the Scottish referendum. Coincidence, no doubt.

Leigh Richards said...

i would have thought that the best thing that can happen for the Yes campaign is for this attention seeking buffoon and his party of ex fascists, racists, homophobes and anti-semites to be seen to be heading the No Campaign.

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