The response to the Nicholas Fromage game is yet another reminder that Ukip can dish it out, but they can’t take it
It is sad, watching Britain’s professional offence-takers take over more and more of our public life. You can’t say anything these days without someone clutching their pearls or dropping their monocle and telling you how terribly inappropriate your harmless banter was.
Yes, it is absolutely extraordinary how thin-skinned Ukip supporters are.
Which is funny, really, since they’re the ones who are always telling us that the latest hilarious outburst by a Ukip councillor or MEP or parliamentary candidate or whatever is just a bit of fun and that the people who raise an eyebrow at it are out of touch with how real people speak outside the Westminster bubble. A man called Kerry Smith calls gay people poofters and Chinese people “Chinkies” and suggests going on “peasant hunts” in Essex, and Nigel Farage thinks that’s earthy working-class man-of-the-people stuff. A chairman of a local Ukip branch claimed that some gay people “prefer sex with animals”, so in apparent agreement the local candidate told a story about how a “homosexual donkey” tried to rape his horse. A potential candidate called Chris Scotton “liked” a Facebook site which claimed that racism was “just ethnic banter”. Another blamed Jewish people for the Holocaust. All this stuff, according to a Ukip spokesperson, was “ordinary people many of whom are young and have made the odd excessive comment on new media”. It’s just top bantz, a bit of silly horseplay, nothing to get too excited about, and the Offended of Islington like yours truly just can’t take a joke.
In fairness, maybe that’s true. These aren’t, generally, the Ukip standard bearers, although Roger Helmer and Godfrey Bloom were pretty senior and said/did some pretty spectacular things (sluts and bongo-bongo land were the best, probably). And Farage himself has dropped some clangers. But in general, it’s local councillors or even candidates for council elections; the fact that in the serried ranks of party nobodies it is possible to hunt out some boorish and/or stupid people saying boorish and/or stupid things should not, perhaps, surprise us. Maybe we should be able to rise above it a bit.
What’s funny, though, is how incapable of rising above it Ukip is when something faintly rude is said about them. Yesterday, it broke that a mobile game had been made in which you could play Nicholas Fromage, the leader of a party called Ukik. The game was you kick immigrants off the White Cliffs of Dover, winning racism-points and damaging the British economy as you did so.
The real-life Mr Fromage, fierce defender of banter-squadrons everywhere, of course, took it with the sang-froid and buffalo-like hide for which he is rightly famous. Oh no wait, sorry, he blew his lid in spectacular style. “Those elements are risible and in many ways pathetic. I think I’m quite well known for having a sense of humour… but elements of this game appear to cross the line.” Which is particularly funny since the Ukik game was made entirely by a bunch of Kent schoolchildren.
But this is just par for the course when it comes to Ukip. They can dish it out – “it” being a series of ugly comments about gay people, immigrants, ethnic minorities, bi-curious donkeys, women, Muslims and, of course, LibLabCon – but as soon as anyone issues the faintest criticism of Ukip itself, out come the smelling salts. A Green party member in Cambridge had a visit from the police after tweeting a jokey piece called “10 reasons to vote Ukip”. The Ukip-supporting James Delingpole, formerly of this parish, has complained that Farage was “stitched up” in an interview with Steph and Dom, the posh ones off of Gogglebox. You really aren’t in the right job if you’re a politician who’s been outfoxed by two tipsy B&B owners.
The place you’ll see this the most, of course, is online. Under every piece criticising Ukip – even gently; even in the context of a generally positive piece – there will be 5,000 comments, most of them from people with names like Aethelred or Defender_Of_The_Realm44, roaring about anti-Ukip conspiracies and the mainstream media’s efforts to keep the party down. (By, for instance, getting Farage on Question Time every three days.) Tweet anything remotely rude about Ukip and you’ll see a similar response (the trick is to mute them, and leave them shouting ineffectually into the void, guys. You can have that one for free). And this is unique to Ukip. If you say comparably critical things about Labour, or the Tories, or the Greens, or the Lib Dems, you won’t have to spend two days fighting angry spam.
And yet no one in Ukip has the self-awareness to see that they can’t have it both ways. Either you’re a proud warrior for free speech – I may not agree with what you say about sluts who won’t clean behind the fridge, but I will defend to the death your right to say it! – or you’re not. You can’t be a Voltaire for the things you agree with and a weeping crybaby when someone’s a bit mean to you. For all their posing as brave sayers of the unsayable and champions of the forgotten British values of calling a spade a spade or whatever, Farage and his weeping bunch of milquetoasts have skins of dry parchment. Toughen up, guys. Nicholas Soames once put it brilliantly, in reference to Mr Fromage: “In politics, there is no point being a shrinking f—–g violet is there?”
Married UKIP MEP Roger Helmer – who claimed gay people “undermine” marriage – has appealed for “privacy” after a tabloid newspaper published a report claiming he visited a ‘sleazy’ massage parlour.
According to the Sun newspaper, Mr Helmer – who represents UKIP in the East Midlands and unsuccessfully ran for parliament this year in the Newark by-election – was photographed visiting Victoria House massage parlour this week.
The parlour – described by the newspaper as “sleazy” – has the motto “Driving men wild since 1999″, and invites men to “come and play” and have an “adventure of the physical kind”.
Mr Helmer said: “MEPs are entitled to a private life. I work extremely hard and when I do occasionally have time off I enjoy a massage. I hope my constituents will agree people are entitled to enjoy their leisure time as they please.
When asked whether his wife – whom he employs as a research assistant – knew about the visit, he said: “She will tomorrow I dare say.”
Despite appealing for his own private life, Mr Helmer has sought to interfere in the private lives of millions of gay couples on several occasions, claiming previously that he should be able to dislike gay people in the same way as different types of tea.
The East Midlands MEP has also compared same-sex marriage to incest, saying: “If two men have a right to marry, how can we deny the same right to two siblings? Are we to authorise incest?”
He has also described homosexuality as “not a lifestyle worthy of equal respect” and claimed it is fair to see it as “abhorrent to God”.
Roger Helmer previously tweeted in 2011: “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual?”
Ukip leader makes comment as he is quizzed over why £45,000 of his income was paid into his private company
Nigel Farage has said most legal tax avoidance is “ok” after being questioned about why around £45,000 of income was paid into his private company rather than a personal bank account.
While denying he used the company to avoid any tax, the Ukip leader said nobody voluntarily paid anything to HM Revenue and Customs and defended the practice of reducing a tax bill within the law.
He made the remarks to the Southend Echo, which raised questions about his tax affairs and the registration of his private company, Thorn in the Side, to the address of his Essex accountants. He has previously rejected allegations that the company – of which he is the only director and 100% shareholder – could be used to reduce his tax bill.
“This firm of accountants did a lot of business with City brokerage companies and was recommended to me,” he told the newspaper.
“No one voluntarily pays any additional income to the Inland Revenue. Most forms of legal tax avoidance are ok, but clearly some are not.”
He dismissed criticism of the setup, saying it would not save money on his tax bill: “To receive money personally I have to pay 40%. Corporation tax at 20% is for retained profits [kept in the company] only, therefore the criticism is ridiculous.”
Using personal services companies is perfectly legal but their use by civil servants potentially to reduce tax bills has been criticised by George Osborne, the chancellor, and Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury. Being paid into a company can help reduce a tax bill substantially as personal income taxes can be higher than the amount paid through corporation and dividend taxes.
It comes as Farage spent the day before the Newark byelection at a travel and tourism conference in Malta, rather than campaigning with the Ukip candidate, Roger Helmer. His absence from the last few days of the campaign is likely to fuel speculation that Ukip has given up winning the Nottinghamshire seat, where the parliamentary poll will be held on Thursday. David Cameron and Osborne have both visited the constituency in recent days.
There was speculation that Farage himself could have stood in the seat vacated by disgraced Tory Patrick Mercer, who stepped down following a lobbying scandal. However, Farage said he wanted to stand in the south-east next year and to concentrate on the European election campaign, which saw Ukip come first to the humiliation of the other parties.
In Newark, though, Tory candidate Robert Jenrick is firm favourite to top the poll, after the Conservatives threw all their resources into defending their 16,000 majority. A stream of ministers, MPs and activists has bombarded the town over the last few weeks and a poll by Lord Ashcroft, a former Tory donor, has the party 15 points ahead of Ukip, while Labour trail seven points behind that.
Helmer, who was recently re-elected as an MEP for the East Midlands, insisted he does not believe the poll and claimed the local Ladbrokes is taking more bets for Ukip.
The 70-year-old has been criticised during the campaign for some of his controversial views about homosexuality, which he claims he has now accepted, and rape, after once suggesting in a blog that a victim should share some responsibility if she established a reasonable expectation of sex in her boyfriend’s mind.
Another new Ukip MEP, Nathan Gill, representing Wales, was also under scrutiny after he admitted employing dozens of workers from eastern Europe and the Philippines. He denied that this presented any conflict with Ukip’s opposition to “open-door immigration”, saying the party “never said it wants to stop all immigration – it wants to limit the numbers”.
“My focus at the time was to employ people who would enable us to fulfil as a business the care contracts we had. I can see how this could look bad, but it’s a case of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’,” he told the Western Mail.
Roger Helmer, who is standing in the Newark by-election this week, suggested it is no different to treating trans-gender people.
He told the Daily Mail: “One person is unhappy with their physical sex and wants to change it and we say, ‘OK you can do it’.
“You have a homosexual who says, ‘I’m homosexual, actually I’d rather be straight, is there a way of fixing it?’
“We say to the person who wants to change from a man to a woman or vice versa, ‘Please do that on the NHS’.
“We say to this guy, ‘That’s wicked, you’re not allowed to think about it’.”
He also added that same-sex marriages should not be treated with the same respect as traditional marriages.
Helmer is already known for his dubious views on gay people saying it was okay for people to find homosexuality “distasteful if not viscerally repugnant”.
Further, when asked if immigration has benefits he replied: “‘I like Indian restaurants too.”
On Monday, Helmer published a letter he had sent to the Mail on Sunday to complain about the interview and insist he does not think the NHS should pay for ‘gay cure’ therapy.
Nigel Farage has previously defended Helmer, saying: “Roger Helmer is fighting this by-election for us; he’s somebody of 70 years of age who grew up with a strong Christian Bible background; he grew up in an age when homosexuality was actually imprisonable, and he had a certain set of views which he maintained for many years which he now says he accepts the world’s moved on and he’s relaxed about.
“As I say, when Roger grew up and, indeed, when he was an adult, homosexuality was illegal in this country, and he held that view for some period of time.
“And actually, if we asked the 70s and over in this country how they felt about it, most of them still feel uncomfortable.”
A Labour councillor claims he was assaulted during an argument with rival UKIP politicians in Retford.
Harworth representative Cllr David Challinor says he was treated aggressively by Roger Helmer MEP’s aide during a tussle over a megaphone.
However UKIP have said that Roger Helmer attempted to enter into sensible debate, but was shouted down. They also say the protest group should be ashamed of their behaviour.
Cllr Challinor, a former miner who is registered as disabled following an industrial accident, was part of a group of Labour activists who ambushed Mr Helmer in the market square during a campaign visit ahead of the Newark by-election.
The demonstrators shouted questions at Mr Helmer over the megaphone, and the East Midlands MEP went over to talk to the group.
But events escalated after the UKIP delegation attempted to head back to their vehicle and were followed by the protest group.
Mr Challinor, who has chaired Bassetlaw Council, then alleges that the campaign worker ‘lunged’ at him in an attempt to grab the megaphone.
“They were shouting ‘get that megaphone!’ and then this tall youth jumped up and lunged at me, trying to pull it. He was trying to take it from my right arm, which I’ve had five operations on and can’t straighten,” he told the Retford Times.
“In politics everyone has a right to protest. I am really shocked – I’m protective of my arm as after my accident it was nearly amputated. They kept harping on about whether I was proud of myself but I am proud to stand up for my views.”
UKIP campaign manager Paul Oakden described the party as being ‘upset’ by the behaviour of the protest group.
“We are upset – we don’t think that is any way for anyone elected by the public to behave, and there were Labour councillors among them. Roger Helmer attempted to enter into sensible debate and was shouted down – this is not the politics Retford wants or deserves. They should be ashamed of their behaviour.”
When told that Mr Challinor would be complaining to police, Mr Oakden said UKIP had no further comment to make.
Roger Helmer MEP, UKIP candidate for the Newark Parliamentary by election has attempted to clear up the controversy surrounding his comments on rape, by being even more controversial.
Helmer said that no blame should be attached to the victim but women should take reasonable care not to put themselves in danger of the crime – in the same way that people going on holiday should lock their front door.
The East Midlands MEP said “I’d like to give you an illustration that is less emotive. If you go on holiday and you get burgled, there is absolutely no question the guilt lies with the burglar. But if it so happens that you left your front door unlocked, then your insurer will probably advise you that was unwise.
“Everyone who is a potential victim of any crime would be well advised to take reasonable care. I am not at all saying a rape victim is responsible for being raped but I would advise people who might consider themselves at risk to be careful. It doesn’t seem to me that’s bad advice. It seems to be the advice that any parent would give to a daughter.”
He continued “I hope people would agree with the view that women concerned about rape should take reasonable care. If a girl goes and gets drunk in a clubbing area and incapable at 2 o’clock in the morning and lies on the pavement, it’s not her fault, the guilt lies with the rapist.
“But the fact that she was there and drunk and incapable made the offence more likely. It seems to me if you say that quietly to somebody and they think about it, they say: ‘It’s obvious,’ so why is it contentious’?”
So that has cleared that up then.
Roger Helmer has been declared the official UKIP candidate for the Newark by-election on June 5th.
So just who is Roger Helmer:
Helmer, who is UKIP’s leading critic of green energy was accused of hypocrisy after it emerged he was making more than £1,000 a year by having solar panels fitted to his property.
The MEP said that a government scheme that allowed householders to profit from fitting solar panels was “sheer lunacy”. However, he said his decision to fit the panels was “a straightforward financial proposition”.
Helmer caused a storm when he claimed that 15 year old girls can consent to sex with pop stars. Helmer said “Suppose a 15-year-old girl is at a club with a pop star, and he says ‘how about it, dear’? and she says ‘yes please, I was hoping you’d ask’. In most people’s book, that constitutes consent. Legally, she cannot consent, but in real terms, she can.”
Helmer also claimed that if an underage child asked for sex then they were contributing to the problem.
Helmer suggested that gay marriages will lead to incestuous and polygamous unions.
Roger Helmer MEP’s wrote on his blog, Straight Talking, that Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s comments about “grotesque” plans to introduce gay marriage were “impressive” and “brilliant”.
Of the Cardinal’s comment that gay marriage was ‘a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right’, Helmer continued: “I wish I’d thought of the phrase. Perhaps he ought to be a politician.”
Helmer, who once described the Catholic church as ‘systematically paedophile’ wrote yesterday: “Archbishop Keith O’Brien also makes the point, quite reasonably, that once you start to tamper with the institution of marriage, you get into some very murky water indeed. If two men can be married, why not three men? Or a two men and a woman?
“He could have gone further. Why not a commune? If two men have a right to marry, how can we deny the same right to two siblings? Are we to authorise incest?”
Discussing rape on his blog Helmer said: “Let me make another point which will certainly get me vilified, but which I think is important to make: while in the first case, the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.”
Helmer was rebuked by his own party for sending out a tweet during a spate of riots suggesting that the army should “shoot looters and arsonists on sight”.
Writing on his blog Helmer stated of the Roman Catholic Church that: “it would be perfectly fair to describe it as systemically paedophile.”
Helmer wrote on his blog that homophobia does not exist and that the word: “is merely a propaganda device” designed to “denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions”
A month later Helmer defended himself, saying he was not claiming “that there is no discrimination, and that homosexuals do not suffer violence and prejudice from people because sadly, we all know that is not the case.” but rather, he states, that the word homophobia has “no meaning” because he has “never met anyone with an irrational fear of homosexuals” and claims that the term is a propagandist one created by the “militant gay rights lobby”
In August 2009, Helmer courted controversy when he criticised the NHS. Speaking to BBC Radio Helmer stated that: “If 80% of Americans are getting better health care than we are in the UK then we ought to ask why, and we ought to ask how are we going to deliver equally good results.”
In November 2005, Helmer admitted that he regularly breaks speed limits on motorway runs. He argued that “No matter how fast you are going, you get people passing you” and confirmed that he has recently been caught speeding with his Jaguar, driving at 38 mph in a 30 mph zone.
In April 2004, Helmer was criticised by Friends of the Earth for his voting record on environmental issues, voting in what they claimed was an environmentally friendly manner in only one out of ten possible “eco-friendly” votes.