This is our truth, tell us yours
Another day, another seemingly incomprehensible statement from Farage, it must be a day with a Y in it. There are of course two ways to interpret what Farage has said, a political mistake, or a direct appeal to a certain constituency. He claims that there is no need for the Race Relations act, that we have moved past it, which indeed we have. The Race Relations Act was superseded by the Equalities Act 2010. This is not a mere point of pedantry. He is deliberately using language that harks back to the 1970s, to the marches of the National Front, and to people who are unaware that the world ever changes.
The idea that legislation framed around race stops you employing someone with an Eastern European sounding name is to use the technical term bunkum. This is how Farage intends to have his cake and eat it,to appeal to the far right who believe that laws on racial discrimination are wrong, and the little Englander who objects to their local Tesco selling polish food. The “everybody” who makes up UKIP supporters.
Part of the issue with UK politics as it currently stands is that what I was taught to call cross cutting cleavages no longer exist. When Farage says “everybody” he means everybody he knows, everybody who speaks like him. So it is with his supporters. Political parties have become private members clubs where only those who pass the membership test are admitted. Facts matter very little to Farage, he doesn’t even need to refer to the correct law he wants repealed. Instead, like the golf club bore he knows he is right because his cronies on the nineteenth hole agree with him. Racism does not exist because his mate likes Bob Marley. We don’t need laws on equality because no one he knows struggles to get a job.
Identity politics is usually a term thrown at those on the left who try to raise up the idea lived experience matters. However it is UKIP who currently are the greatest proponents of it. It’s why appeals to facts never matter to kippers. They are sitting at the bar, regaling all who pass with how they experience the world, and all that matters to them is their personal experience.
Is there a solution to this? I am tempted to say, I would not start from here. The golf club bore is coming to the end of a long rambling story and interrupting now is seen as an act of aggression. The time to have interrupted would have been at the beginning, to have said, I have to stop you there, this simply isn’t true. However we have allowed the story to develop around immigration, benefits, the disabled, the NHS and now, as the election approaches the golf club bore is getting ready to order another whiskey and explain exactly why climate change is a con.