The Common touch

UKIP is the largest British party in the European Parliament. What are their MEPs like? Jane Collins was on Any Questions, a radio panel debate, terrifying me with her extreme Right populism. There was a racist dog-whistle and a great deal of lying and misinformation. I decided to check some of it.

To David Willetts’ comment that the Chinese government wished to reduce its reliance on coal, because the pollution in Beijing is equivalent to smoking forty cigarettes a day, she claimed that life expectancy in Beijing is higher than in Glasgow. In Glasgow it is 73 for men, 78.5 for women. Beijing’s is indeed higher, at 76.1, on older statistics- the Glasgow figure has risen recently- though the Beijing resident can expect to be sicker, younger.

So, something true- yet scarcely relevant. And Willetts’ comment is false too: Beijing air would shorten your life by three years, while twenty a day would shorten it by nine. Or so I heard on the radio.

She stepped back from Farage’s racist lie about Oldham, that there are streets where no-one speaks English. In Glodwick and Westwood, someone in every household will speak English. “I did not go down any street in Oldham where no-one spoke English,” she said. I am glad she is scared to be completely ridiculous, but they lie then vacillate as if they do not care about truth at all.

What of her claim that in Rotherham, the polling station votes were equal Labour and UKIP, but postal ballots swung it? The Labour majority was 8446. 18% of the electorate in Yorkshire and the Humber obtained postal votes, and 86% nationally with a postal vote used it. The electorate was counted at 63,131 in 2010. That gives a very rough figure of 9800 postal votes in Rotherham, and what she claimed could be true if all the postal votes were for Labour. But it is unlikely. I used this pdf, found here.

On bombing Syria, there was a quiet, reasoned discussion of the issues, then Jane started. She wants Middle Eastern states to fund the war and provide the troops- but then, they would fight in their own interests. She wants to stop those same countries funding Da’esh, which makes nonsense of her first desire; and she wants to stop money from the UK going to Da’esh. That was her second racist dogwhistle. The Northampton Al-Bireh Friendship Association, a harmless group of Quakers and others, has had great difficulty obtaining a bank account. “Perhaps they think we’re terrorists,” said my Friend. Perhaps, according to current definitions, we are. The Government is already acting.

Climate change is not a problem, according to Jane, though George Monbiot called it “Climate breakdown”. The climate has been changing since the world began, she says. There is CO2 from the recent Mount Etna explosion.

This is not stupidity. Someone who has bothered to consider the issue sufficiently to make such arguments knows the truth of the matter. “I don’t claim to be something I aren’t” (sic) said Jane. Yes, you do, pretending to prejudices you do not share, but wish to encourage.

In her boorish shouting and interrupting, she scored one own goal: “We need to get a grip on reality here,” said Jane, and George responded drily “Thank you Jane for that very pertinent observation.” I don’t think she is as stupid as she sounds, and that makes her considerably viler.

Blake Behemoth and Leviathan

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