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UKIP do not need a “clause IV moment” on race

Last night Nigel Farage addressed a UKIP rally in London. Nothing remarkable in that, and although I was aware it was happening, I didn’t really pay much attention. However after the meeting I saw that Nigel had Tweeted the following:

How exciting, I thought. What could have happened? There must have been some momentous policy change, something truly mould breaking for UKIP that would be a real game changer.

As it turns out, last night’s meeting was an attempt to put the ridiculous accusations of racism that have dogged the party in recent weeks to bed. Taking to the stage following a succession of speeches from ethnic minority UKIP candidates, Nigel announced that the evening should mark UKIP’s clause IV moment:

“Let this be UKIP’s Clause IV moment…I don’t care what you call us. You can call us right wing, left wing. You can call us small-minded. I don’t care what you call us but from this moment on, please, do not ever call us a racist party. We are not a racist party.”

Now, I may be missing something here, but as I recall Labour’s famous clause IV moment was Tony Blair announcing the decision to drop their commitment to nationalisation. Specifically, they dropped a constitutional commitment to nationalisation in order to become electable.

To call last night’s demonstration of UKIP as a non-racist party our “clause IV moment” is to replace the word “nationalisation” in that last sentence with the word “racism”. Nigel is rapidly beoming a hero of mine, but this seems a huge error. It is to say that UKIP, while formerly constitutionally racist, are now dropping that commitment to become electable.

UKIP do not need a clause IV moment on race. We are not a racist party, nor have we ever been.

It is a particularly bizarre comparison, given the overtures made by the party in recent months to court former Labour voters. Many of these ex-Labour voters will be able to trace their disillusion with the party back to clause IV and the rise of New Labour. Clause IV is therefore a toxic term for them, and will likely put them off UKIP.

I understand the temptation to tackle the racism accusations head on, every ounce of energy we spend on defending ourselves against accusations of racism is an ounce of energy we are not using to win the argument on EU exit. However last night’s event will do nothing to put the issue to bed. We are dealing with a hostile media, hell bent on bringing UKIP down. The accusations of racism will continue, and indeed intensify over the next year. When you have white protestors infiltrating an audience and screaming “racist” at ethnic minority figures on the stage, as happened last night, you know you are beyond the realms of rational debate. We simply cannot win this argument in the eyes of the media and the established parties.

Which is OK because we are not trying to make friends in the establishment, we are trying to talk over their heads to the public and win votes. The recent mud slinging efforts have done little to dent UKIP’s poll figures, indeed I would suggest that the more the establishment turn their fire on UKIP, the more we appear in the role of plucky underdog being picked on by more powerful bullies, something that will only win votes. Staging a rally to parade our non-racist credentials is unnecessary and is simply playing our opponents at their own game. Calling it a Clause IV moment is even less helpful. Much better surely to rise above it all and concentrate on the messages that actually matter.

Photo by European Parliament

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3 Comments on UKIP do not need a “clause IV moment” on race

  1. I think Frank Fisher is right regarding the photo opportunity but the author is right with regard to the use of the clause IV term. The use of that is a distraction from the real task of presenting the case for exiting the EU. To that end, we need to start presenting a much more positive case for the trade and job opportunities that will come from greater freedom to trade with the rest of the world. This will help counter the negative portrayal of BREXIT being painted by the LibDems.

  2. Its a bit pathetic really. What has set UKIP apart is it’s complete ambivalence to race, gender and sexuality issues, or at least the official party line, barring Farage’s flirt with christianity. And thats a good thing, a very good thing. Had Nikki Sinclaire happened to have been a Labour MEP, she would have been shamelessly paraded around like a trophy due to being the first transgender MEP. In UKIP, its not an issue. She was treated as just another representative on equal terms. Nothing more, nothing less. The last thing UKIP needs are cheap and nasty ‘Blair Babe’ type photoshoot’s that perpetuate stereotypes of putting people in boxes.

  3. Frank Fisher // May 9, 2014 at 8:43 am //

    Well I think he meant that it should mark a perceptual shift in the public and media’s understanding of what UKIP was, akin to “new labour is not a socialist party” – the effect Blair was going for.

    In truth, the media are not going to warm to us. They are so closely entwined with LiblabCon, and LibLabCon with each other – as we saw on Question Time last night – that no serious switch in media presentation of UKIP is going to happen. But the goal of that rally, and the clause 4 comment, was to get THAT PHOTO of Nigel and dozens of BME members into the papers and onto screens. To, as you say, leap over the heads of the media, straight to Joe Public.

    On the doorstep, faced with a ‘racism’ accusation, that’s a powerful image to refer back to.

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