Three UKIPers have been suspended from the party following a fascist attack on a bookshop. But it's not the first time members are busted fraternising with the far-right.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) made its mark as a Eurosceptic and Leave-campaigning party, with a pantomimic leader who served as spokesman for the neurosis of Britain’s petit-bourgeoisie.
For a while the formula was rather successful, attracting some of the Conservative backbenches and pushing Westminster rhetoric further to the right. The 2016 Brexit referendum – the way it was phased and the way it was framed – was very much a result of UKIP’s success as a single-issue campaign group.
But with the referendum ticked out of their bucket list and Nigel Farage abandoning the party to focus on his solo career, the party has found itself in some sort of identity crisis, exposing itself not as the party of the “beleaguered defenders of national sovereignty” but as the acceptable face of racism and xenophobia.
And while many had argued this had been the case all along, nothing has helped made the case more clearly than today’s announcement that UKIP had suspended three party members, after identifying them in an alt-right “action” this weekend.
Luke Nash-Jones, a regular contributor to UKIP daily, together the party’s Swindon candidate Martin Costello, and Elizabeth Jones were found to be among the fascists who attacked a central London socialist bookshop on Saturday.
According to a UKIP statement:
“It is understood that the three members were involved in an incident at the Bookmarks bookshop in London on Saturday.”
Yet this is not the first time ‘KIPers get involved with some pretty dodgy people.
Here’s 5 times UKIP members were found to have Nazi links and other highly questionable sympathies:
1. When it recruited YouTube’s biggest alt-right stars
In June, UKIP recruited infamous social media propagandeers, MiloYiannopoulos, Mark Meechan, Carl Benjamin and Paul Joseph Watson. All these men have been long associated with far-right movements in the US, as well as several hate speech offences.
Yiannopoulos was for a while the poster-child of a series of reactionary online movements, becoming editor of the American far-right website Breitbart. He was banned from Twitter in 2016 after sending several abusive, sexist and racist messages to actress Leslie Jones.
Meechan, also known as ‘Count Dankula’, became a (Nazi) household name after teaching his girlfriend’s pug to “Sieg Heil” and being arrested for inciting hate speech.
Benjamin is a videogamer-turned-vlogger who rose to prominence for spewing anti-feminist and anti-semitic views online. Watson, in turn, has become well known on social media for his short videos purporting the most farfetched conspiracy theories.
2. When its leading campaign strategist praised “very clever” Nazi techniques
In April, the Leave.EU director of communications and chief strategist, Andy Wigmore, told an academic researching for a book on Trump’s electoral victory, that the Nazi propaganda machine “was very clever, the way they managed to do what they did.”
Wigmore then added:
“In its pure marketing sense, you can see the logic of what [the Nazis] were saying, why they were saying it, and how they presented things, and the imagery.
“And looking at that now, in hindsight, having been on the sharp end of this campaign, you think: crikey, this is not new, and it’s just … using the tools that you have at the time.”
He later defended the comments “in a historical context.” Ok then…
3. Gerard Batten’s love for the Dutch ultra-conservatives and Tommy Robinson
Gerard Batten has gone from being an MEP with bad opinions to being UKIP’s leader with bad opinions. Recently Batten has been on a campaign to defend former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson, since he was jailed for contempt of court. He even compared Robinson to the suffragettes.
But before that, he would often cry out for the right of Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders to speak in the European Parliament.
In 2009, after being barred from bringing Wilders to Brussels for a screening of his film Fitna, Batten said:
“We can’t do anything about murderers, rapists and pedophiles coming from the EU but they will stop a democratically elected politician from the EU talking about the sources of terrorism.”
The year after he argued no more mosques should be built in Britain.
4. When Nigel Farage spoke at a German far-right rally
Former UKIP leader Farage had no qualms in addressing a rally of far-right the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party back in 2017. That was, one must say, after he had quit the leadership and after he had posed with Donald Trump for that infamous gold lift picture.
5. When a one-time party official was found leading a double-life as neo-Nazi
In late 2014, the Mirror revealed that a former secretary of UKIP’s Aberdeen branch had been actively part of a white supremacist forum named Stormfront. Andrew Lovie wrote a series racist and homophobic posts on the Nazi website. A UKIP spokesperson said at the time that the party took actions against members who would also take part in extremist organisations. It is not known whether any disciplinary procedures were taken against Lovie.
Joana Ramiro is a reporter for Left Foot Forward. You can follow her on Twitter for all sorts of rants here.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.