If you haven’t heard of Nigel Farage, you soon will! He and his party, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), are the biggest thing in British politics since the Liberals became the Liberal Democrats in 1988 — maybe bigger. Although they don’t currently have seats in the British parliament, that might soon change. UKIP has won several seats in non-parliamentary elections run on the proportional representation system, such as the European Union elections, and came very close to beating the Liberal Democrats in a recent mid-term parliamentary election. There is also a strong possibility the party will win seats in the London Assembly and other local elections next year.
UKIP’s popular political platform is very simple – OUT of the European Union. Nigel Farage, the Party’s charismatic leader, is demanding Britain’s instant withdrawal from the EU, which he explains costs the United Kingdom a contribution of nearly 70 million dollars a day! Ironically, he himself is a European Member of Parliament (along with several other UKIP members), since it is the quickest route to becoming an elected representative. He has nothing against Europe per se, and he pointed out that Britain is the only country that went to war—twice—to defend the interests of other European countries who were being overrun by ruthless occupiers. Farage believes in freely trading with every country equally, including the countries of the British Commonwealth against whom there is actually trade discrimination thanks to an EU policy that imposes trade restrictions on non-EU countries.
So what are Farage’s views on the Jewish community? The Jewish Chronicle recently hosted a meeting with him. The meeting was packed, because Farage and UKIP, unlike other minority political parties in the UK (such as the Greens), are enthusiastic supporters of Israel – unequivocally so. The party even has a caucus called “the UKIP Friends of Israel.” Asked by Jewish Chronicle Editor Stephen Pollard about his stance on current Jewish concerns such as attacks on shechita, Farage explained that a UKIP politician recently investigated a kosher slaughterhouse in London’s East End and reported that Jewish ritual slaughter methods are actually more humane than those in the abbatoirs for the general population.
Another of the UKIP’s preoccupations is immigration. Farage, who asserts that prior to Tony Blair becoming Prime Minister, no more than 30,000 immigrants came to the UK annually, explains that the UK is now forced to accept a totally unsupportable minimum of 500,000 immigrants a year due to EU regulations. Next year, Romanians and Bulgarians will be allowed to enter the UK more or less freely – countries whose standard of living is substantially lower than that of the UK, with all that this implies.
Naturally, in an audience of Jews, many of whom are descendants of refugees, Farage was asked whether this meant he was against refugees. “Not at all”, he replied, “I myself am a descendant of refugees, French Huguenots who came here to avoid being burned at the stake!” But there is a difference, he asserts, between genuine refugees fleeing persecution and people who emigrate to sponge off the state and work for below minimum wage.
UKIP’s anti-European, free trade platform is seriously frightening the incumbent Conservative government. They and the British press, which is overwhelmingly owned by Conservative proprietors, have done all they can to smear the UKIP and paint the party as a bunch of crazies. But Farage is a very convincing politician, and the Jewish vote might help propel a UKIP candidate to the mayoralty of London in 2016. Before that, there are the European elections and the local elections in 2014. If the UKIP does well, Prime Minister David Cameron has much to fear in the next General Election.