The short campaign has started and inevitably the political gloves will come off. Unfortunately for me, and indeed many current UKIP candidates and supporters, the fight is getting far too close to home.
Over the past few days I have received dozens of warnings or threats, depending on how you choose to see them, from someone who is ostensibly a member of the British Labour Party and part of ANTIFA – a group that self-describes as “a collective of militant anti-fascists committed to opposing the rise of the far-right in Britain and abroad.”
ANTIFA support the ‘no platform’ philosophy that is behind the stifling of debate on university campuses across the country and they openly advocate direct action – not talk. They also claim to have my home address and the desire to use it to hold a “peaceful” protest outside my house. My crime? I was once a member of UKIP, a party they have denounced as fascist.
Irony appears to be a concept that has passed ANTIFA by. Fascism is, in essence, radical authoritarianism, the stifling of debate through force; Orwell wrote in 1944 that “the word ‘fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless… almost any people would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’”. And bullies is almost the perfect definition of what these people are.
Fascist as an insult is appallingly over-used and one that, when used in the context of UKIP, renders the argument meaningless and its user ignorant. UKIP as a party may well have its issues but to label it a fascist organization is pure folly. The party’s immigration policy is usually the reason it faces these sorts of accusations and while an Australian points-based system may not be to everyone’s tastes it is one that treats would-be immigrants as individuals and assesses their application on their own merits, not whether or not they hold an EU passport.
UKIP is a party that advocates personal liberty, lower taxes, free speech; it is about as far from the far-right fascist parties of old as the Liberal Democrats are from true liberals.
Through a series of tweets I have been warned that my home address has been found and that I should expect imminent ANTIFA protestors outside my door; I can only assume holding banners and shouting. The tweets have used the hashtags #BashTheFash #StandUptoUKIP and #OccupyAlexandraSwann ; amusing, although rather sinister and a thinly-veiled threat.
My specific crimes are for being a “racist right-winger” and, specifically, a Breitbart columnist. After some probing, it transpires that they do indeed have an address for me, albeit my 72-year-old Conservative-voting father’s, not mine. I’ve been told that I am being watched and they have threatened to turn up at my place of work in order to enlighten my employer to the sort of right wing scum they are employing. The whole thing is mind boggling; I’m tempted to call the police.
But I am not alone in facing this sort of abuse from the militant left who mount campaigns of harassment and bully their opponents in order to suppress the debate that they are losing. Across the country, UKIP campaign offices are being vandalized and candidates are facing abuse. This weekend a UKIP campaign office in Northumberland has been defaced with spray paint reading “NAZI SCUM”, following similar scenes in Kidderminster, Ramsgate, Bournemouth and Caerphilly to name but a few.
Hard working, decent candidates are deterred from standing and some have even resigned due of the levels of personal abuse thrown by the left; people have been fired from public sector jobs when the haters’ fellow travellers in the unions have threatened trouble. I don’t blame these candidates; standing for election is a hard enough slog without being constantly labelled a racist by politically illiterate fools who quite probably couldn’t name a UKIP policy if they tried. Only a week ago UKIP leader Nigel Farage was faced with a baying mob while trying to have Sunday lunch with his family; his children were so scared they ran away.
This is the face of the modern left; hyperventilating with confected rage, splashing overinflated labels to shut down their opponents and when that fails resorting to intimidation and fear. If this isn’t bullying I do not know what is. I am loathe to throw the term around, but if anyone here could be labelled a fascist it’s those threatening violent intimidation (what else could #BashtheFash be thought to mean) outside a young woman’s house, or those causing criminal damage because they don’t like someone’s principles, or scaring children. These are the true inheritors of fascism; the militant, intolerant left. Not UKIP members and not, as far as I know, me.