Douglas Carswell, UKIP MP for Clacton, has got into a spot of bother. Yesterday he tweeted a picture of a pro-Remain advert in the Daily Mail taken out by the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, with the comment “Quite something that the extremist Jobbik party in Hungary wants us to Remain. You want political union w/ them?”
Jobbik are, indeed, extremist and openly anti-semitic. And Viktor Orbán is a pretty nasty piece of work himself. But a member of Jobbik he is not: he leads the slightly-less-openly-extreme Fidesz party. But, this epic fact-checking fail aside, I’m fascinated by this, because whilst Carswell would seem to imply that we wouldn’t want to be hanging with extremists, UKIP appear have no issues with political alignment with quite a range of people who might rather easily be considered to fit that description. In the European Parliament their MEPs sit in the European Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group; indeed Nigel Farage himself is co-president of the group. This group includes:
- Beatrix von Storch, MEP for the hard right Alternative for Germany and who, amongst other views, has suggested that trespassing refugees (including women and children) be gunned down;
- Robert Iwaszkiewicz, MEP for the Polish KNP party which is so far to the right that Marine Le Pen ruled out aligning the French National Front with them and, at the time of the group’s formation, was led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke who thinks that the distinction between consensual sex and rape is “very subtle,” that Hitler was “probably not aware that Jews were being exterminated,” that the public “should not see the disabled on television,” and who has described immigrants as “human garbage”;
- the Swedish Democrats, who were founded as a white supremacist group, though they have apparently “learned from their mistakes”; and
- the Lithuanian Order and Justice party, whose leader Rolandas Paksas was impeached for his links to Russian organized crime.
The EFDD is a reincarnation of the former Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, of which UKIP was a member and Farage was also co-president. In this case, he happily co-chaired it with one Franceso Speroni of Italy’s Northern League, whose considered opinion is that “Anders Breivik’s ideas are in defence of western civilisation.”
But one need not even look outside UKIP to find such nastiness. I posted before about the range of charming, delightful views that can be found from within its very membership: to this list we can add their (thankfully unsucessful) parliamentary candidate Przemek Skwirczynski, who takes smiling selfies with Korwin-Mikke. And Nigel himself, of course, is “proud” to have taken a third of former BNP voters.
One wonders what Douglas Carswell’s definition of extremist is, that includes Jobbik but presumably excludes the assorted vicious racists, criminals, homophobes, and sexists whom his party happily embraces. Perhaps—and I’m going out on a limb here—it’s whether or not they support Brexit?