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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Ukip shows its true face with Tommy Robinson's appointment

Mainstream politicians have a greater obligation than ever before to stand against the normalisation of racism and Islamophobia

Tommy Robinson lha sbeen appointed as an advisor to the right-wing UK Independence Party. Reuters
Tommy Robinson lha sbeen appointed as an advisor to the right-wing UK Independence Party. Reuters

Despite now lacking any parliamentary representation, having engineered Britain’s Brexit shambles the UK Independence Party remains responsible for one of the greatest upheavals in European politics since the Second World War. Now from the same rotten tree, falls more bitter fruit to poison Britain’s political discourse. The appointment of the virulent Islamophobe Tommy Robinson as a party adviser panders to the prejudices of the worst elements of British society. Robinson may be a “loathsome, obnoxious, repellent individual”, as the speaker of the House of Commons recently put it, but the disturbing truth is that among certain sections of British society he is far from alone. As the founder of the English Defence League and a former member the far-right British National Party, Robinson has built a lamentably sturdy following on the foundations of hate.

Staggeringly, Ukip sees no irony in appointing Britain's most prominent right-wing extremist to advise on ways to counter perceived Islamic extremism in British prisons. The party’s present leader, Gerard Batten, describes Islam as “a death cult” and says British Muslims should be required to formally renounce parts of the Quran. His latest policies include the establishment of Muslim-only prisons, the repeal of hate-crime laws and a crackdown on immigration by Muslims. Nigel Farage, the “everyman” Eurosceptic multimillionaire commodity broker and founding member of Ukip, has condemned Robinson’s appointment for “dragging us in a shameful direction”. This is rank hypocrisy from a man who once railed against Muslims “coming here to take us over” and who misleadingly used images of Syrian refugees on posters suggesting immigration to Britain was reaching “breaking point”.

The views of Batten and Robinson may appear to be so beyond the pale that they pose no real threat to the British way of life. However, the success of Ukip in provoking Brexit shows just how much extremist malcontents can achieve when given enough exposure to normalise their morally bankrupt views. Instead of bending over backwards to accommodate such prejudices for fear of losing votes, as they have done repeatedly before and since Brexit, mainstream politicians must find the courage to oppose them at every turn. The alternative is too dire to contemplate.