2007 - 2021

The Stigma Politics of British Nationalism

6509716627_f54de3642c_b_67271On the day that Farage does a deal with a far-right, racist Holocaust-denier to save UKIP’s EU funding, Stewart McDonald looks at what’s behind his latest statements.

“KEEP HIV POSITIVE MIGRANTS OUT OF BRITAIN, SAYS FARAGE”. That is the headline that screeched across Friday’s edition of The Guardian. Mr Farage made his remarks in an interview with Newsweek Europe when asked what sort of people should be allowed to migrate to the UK. He said: “People who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start. And people with a skill.”

Many people have rightly condemned these remarks. As well as branding the remarks outrageous, medieval and barrel scraping, Mr Farage has also been branded ignorant on the issue of HIV in the modern world. Whilst at best this may be the case I, for one, am not wholly convinced. Nigel Farage is a dangerous man and those of us who oppose his politics must smarten up to this sooner rather than later.

Farage’s circle of scapegoats seems to be ever widening. It has to be in order for his party to succeed. At first it was all about bashing bureaucrats in Brussels; then immigrants who came here to seek a new life and new opportunities. UKIP then realised it needed a wider platform than just Euro/immigrant bashing, so it decided to take aim at those who dare to use the welfare state – largely those with a disability, are in low paid work or live in poverty. See where this is heading?

Now Mr Farage seems intent on resurrecting an old stigma. Wishing to exclude migrants who are HIV positive, Nigel would put the UK in the same category as Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Libya. By contrast the USA ended its travel ban for HIV people in 2010, bringing to an end 22 years of policy that was rooted in fear, suspicion and ignorance rather than fact.

This latest outburst tells me all I need to know about UKIP’s intention to help fight HIV and AIDS across the world. They won’t. UKIP would rather stop tackling the disease with other countries around the world and instead pretend that it doesn’t exist – at least in Britain anyway. This is despite the UN previously stating that such a draconian measure would have no impact on the epidemic. What Farage is trying to sell here is a lie and a dangerous one at that.

What Farage has failed to mention is how people live with HIV in the modern age. We now know more about the disease than ever before, meaning that drugs are widely available to those diagnosed with HIV so that they can live an otherwise normal and healthy life. A virus that previously sentenced millions to death is now being contained, meaning that people can still live a life with their loved ones, be mothers, uncles, brothers and friends. No longer do we incubate people and manage their death. Instead we treat people medically and empower them to overcome the stigma that is, albeit slowly, dying off. People with HIV are working and living amongst us. Nigel Farage knows this.

So why, then, has he chosen to say these things now? This is perhaps the most sinister part of the whole episode. These comments come on the same day that the UK Government announced screening at airports to protect the British public from Ebola. At a time when people are concerned about a virus that is hitting the headlines with its claimant count going up, Mr Farage has chosen to resurrect the mass-panic from the 1980s over HIV, despite the virus being completely different. Forget the facts. Forget science. UKIP’s circle of scapegoats must keep on widening.

This is one of the nastiest and most sinister things that I have known in politics. Not content with bashing innocent citizens for all manner of reasons, Nigel Farage wants to take us back three decades. He and his party want to put HIV positive people back in to the shadows of the 1980s.

Those of us on the left must wise up to the creature that is taking votes from across the political divide. There is a vacuum of despair in English politics that UKIP is filling with bigotry, hatred and division. We in Scotland cannot ignore this. Let these comments be another siren, warning us of the direction that UKIP is taking us. We have seen this kind of politics before. We have seen where it can head. Do we really want to look back in twenty years’ time and kick ourselves for having not noticed what was going on? The response from the Tories has been to try and accommodate UKIP. This has turned out to be a disaster. Let’s beat them and ensure that progress wins the day.


See details of Farage’s European partners here.

Comments (23)

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  1. davidmccann24 says:

    A timely observation Stewart.

    “When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.”

    Martin Niemöller

    1. Annette says:

      My thoughts exactly. Do not believe this couldn’t happen here and now, because it can. UKIP are using exactly the same strategies that brought the NSDAP into power in the 1930s.

  2. Time to rattle the cupboard. Farage has got to have some pretty amazing skeletons in his, it must be jampacked.
    Isn’t that how they get rid of MP’s because he is a right piece of work, and this cannot be denied.

  3. Jane Paterson says:

    He is a very dangerous man. Tapping into the fears of the people to sell his party, and their fears are many. As usual the other parties are so busy squabbling for power and privilege they didn’t see him coming. Now Cameron is trying to mimic him as he sees his voters and MPs jumping ship. Thank you for the SNP .

  4. Frank says:

    The Unionist parties are only interested in votes and where they can get them from. They will do anything to get these votes, as we have seen.
    Jane is spot on and I agree that we should be thankful for the SNP and also for the other YES parties, who have genuine democratic policies and are capable of working together positively for the common good.
    We do NOT need The Purple, Blue, Red or Yellow TORY parties in Scotland or anywhere near it and must do all we can to get rid of them. Self interest is their mantra, but Karma is surely coming their way.

  5. Fantastic!

    Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

  6. Niall says:

    Be careful about assuming too much about your enemy’s position — you risk attacking the wrong thing

    “What Farage has failed to mention is how people live with HIV in the modern age. We now know more about the disease than ever before, meaning that drugs are widely available to those diagnosed with HIV so that they can live an otherwise normal and healthy life.”

    It’s perfectly possible he’s thinking along those very same lines — if you were against foreigners, and against “scroungers”, wouldn’t it be logical to be against so-called “health tourists”, particularly those who’re going to need prescriptions for the rest of their lives?

    While I would strongly oppose such a policy, there are many who would find such logic appealing (after all, they weren’t paying income tax and NI before getting sick if they come to the UK after contracting the virus).

    Worse, when they argue this way, suddenly articles like yours get painted as ignorance and intolerance that “proves” how UKIP is being deliberately demonised by an out-of-touch establishment. (Yes, even though Bella Caledonia is completely anti-establishment.)

  7. deewal says:

    Be aware. There are UKIP supporter’s in Scotland. They are amongst the 55% and they will do whatever they can to take a seat from yes supporter. They already have a Scottish MSP. They will target the same idiots who hate the SNP.

    1. Brian Fleming says:

      deewal, they do not have a Scottish MSP. They have a Scottish MEP.

  8. deewal says:

    Also be aware that if they do put up candidates that those candidates will get more publicity from the BBC (spit) and the MSM than the whole SNP Party put together.

  9. Valerie says:

    I was just about to say what deewal said, do not think for one minute there are no UKIP supporters in Scotland, and that UKIP will not target Scotland next year in the GE. They already have a word for it – the Rust Belt. They intend to hit areas where there is disenchantment and division, that are looking for scapegoats – UKIP provide the scapegoats with all the groups you mention, and its why they get support down south.

    You also have to note that many No voters here identify and derive support from down south, and hold many of the same views such as “too many coming into this country taking our jobs, our benefits, our housing….”

    We have already seen them automatically invited into the TV debates, and they are becoming more popular due to the exposure from MSM. When UKIP are questioned about their policies etc., and if they don’t like the question, they call it bad mouthing them. Farage has a record of only speaking to UKIP friendly journos etc. which is exactly the same ploy as the BNP – they call it their “one strike policy” i.e. you bad mouth them, and you are blacklisted.

    Dangerous and nasty bunch, who merit being followed in various anti fascist Blogs due to their continual racist gaffes.

    1. Penfold says:

      Recent polls are showing UKIP polling better than the greens in Scotland…..between 5-8%. Obviously so much better than in rUK but still nothing to be complacent about. Especially if they start getting ideas for 2016 when they could be looking at MSP’s at that % vote.

      1. oldbattle says:

        In my part of Lanarkshire we suspect UKIP will run to pick up the Orange vote (currently being courted by SLAB.)

  10. sdbast says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  11. MBC says:

    I think UKIP need to be challenged on what their policies actually are. At the moment they are a party of protest, a party that feeds on grievance. And there’s plenty of grievance about to feed on and it’s coming from all areas, both left and right.

    But what are their actual solutions to this grievance? What is their analysis of what is going wrong? Apart from blaming the state of the country on too many foreigners? The only growth in jobs since 2008 has been in low paid service jobs. Foreigners are eager for these jobs, Britons, less eager, especially those with degrees who aspire to graduate jobs.

    What do they actually propose doing about the state of the economy? The high price of housing and the surging welfare bill? A large part of the welfare bill stems from housing costs, high rents, which are unaffordable. What does Farage propose doing about the housing crisis? Graduate jobs? Affordable housing? Bringing down the deficit?

    They have no policies, basically. Their position is totally incoherent. Why they are given such air time disgusts me. Sinn Fein had plenty of grievance but were steadfastly denied ‘the oxygen of publicity’ during the 1970s which forced them to turn to terrorist outrages. Why are only English grievances given air time in the UK?

    Their policy of only speaking to sympathetic journos who will not ask such searching questions ought to be taken up with the Press Complaints Commission. They need to be pressed and grilled for their answers to their grievances. A party of grievance with no policy, never mind a coherent policy, on grievance is not a party at all but a protest movement.

  12. Marian says:

    it was a fairly safe bet that Farage would become bolder with his prejudices as he creeps further up the Westminster political food chain.

    The BBC and newspapers are so in love with him that there’s nary a protest.

    Its a very scary place the UK is heading to.

  13. Wull says:

    The way the BBC has given UKIP so much air time, especially on programmes like Question Time, is a disgrace. It is another sign of the BBC transforming politics into a form of entertainment, which turns the political process into a farce. Farage is controversial; he is a ‘performer’; he will increase audience numbers, therefore – so goes the thinking – we must find an excuse to have him on our programmes. The ‘excuse’ so far has been that UKIP puts up candidates throughout the UK, which is not quite true since, as far as I know, like the Conservatives and Labour, it avoids Northern Ireland. This extremely feeble ‘excuse’ is also being used to sidline the SNP and Plaid from national debate. To counter these arguments, one of Nicola Sturgeon’s first tasks should be to broker a series of agreements so that the SNP can run candidates with them across the whole of the UK, except Northern Ireland. In Wales the agreement should be with Plaid; in Scotland it should be with the Greens, the Scottish Socialists and Solidarity; in England it should probably be with the Greens, though there may be other possible partners as well. It can known UK-wide as the Alliance, running as the SNP-Alliance in Scotland, the Plaid-Alliance in Wales and (maybe) the Green-Alliance in England. It can offer left of centre policies throughout the UK, including opposition to any further investment in Trident (other than to dismantle it), genuine Federalism with an openness to independence for each of the UK’s nations, a pro-European just and fair immigration policy, left of centre welfare policies etc. Besides offering a genuine alternative for disaffacted Labour voters, without them feeling they have to shift to the right by moving to UKIP, it will get the Alliance the right to proper air time on the BBC,. The broadcaster will no longer be able to pretend that the Alliance (brokered by the SNP) is not contending for government of the UK, its current feeble excuse for keeping the SNP off the airwaves. I hope Nicola takes the initiative, and that many will encourage her to do so.

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      I’m pretty sure that UKIP has a member of a local council in NI. That makes it the only party with at least one elected representative in each of the Divided Kingdom’s nations.

  14. I’m not clear who this piece is aimed at. Who are ‘those of us on the left’? I hope it isn’t intended to include the British Labour party. Also, whilst Farage is a vile creature, he is not forcing people to vote for him. That group of voters are my concern. Agree with a poster above that it will include No voters

  15. MBC says:

    I think what Wull says about Farage being a ‘performer’ and news becoming entertainment is spot on. A similar charge could be levied at Boris Johnstone. It is worrying that news reporting has descended to this. There was a Panorama programme about him which is I think still on iPlayer which to the BBC’s credit, it does attempt to take him to task. It reveals him as a fraud, a boor, a bully, and a charlatan. Of course we knew that, but the programme pins him down on that.

  16. Tina Feedgie says:

    When did scientific fact ever feature in politics? From imminent mass deaths due to mad cow disease/bird flu/SARS to the sacking of Prof Nutt for telling a truth that didn’t match the party policy, the scientific process is at the opposite end of the spectrum to the political process.

    Unlike a scientist a politician talks on any subject with an air of authority and aims to convince people by the power of persuasion alone… facts don’t enter into it.

    Misuse of science and statistics replaces religion in the political arsenal, a way to control the masses through fear – ok everyone, we admit that you’re not going to burn in hell for eternity, but look at all these scary things that will kill you or take your jobs. And the people lap it up, rarely questioning what they’re told and ever-ready to point the finger of blame at someone who’s a bit different to them.

    UKIP (and the Conservatives to be honest) are bloody scary if you ask me – the national discontent is palpable so some targets are needed for your frustrations, and your friendly UKIP/Conservative representative will happily provide them.

  17. Same old – everyone can be a worthy nationalist to protect their own cultural values, except for the British who are labelled as Nazis if they wish to preserve their way of life and resist the concreting over of the country in order to accommodate everyone who wishes to settle here to take advantage of what remains of our hard won civilisation. Fortunately, people are increasingly seeing through this tired old propaganda which is proving to be so upsetting for all the bleeding heart liberals and power hungry left wing know-it-alls.

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