The most odious outpouring yet from the Nigel Farage/Arron Banks UKIP camp has been the attack on Brendan Cox, widower of the murdered MP Jo Cox, for setting up his Hope not Hate charity.
By some warped logic, Jo Cox’s murder was less ‘political’ than her husband’s compassionate response to it.
Farage, you may recall, immediately leapt on to the racist bandwagon following the truck rampage in Berlin by advising the world that this was ‘the Merkel legacy’.
When Cox protested at the idea of blaming politicians for the actions of extremists, this was Farage’s response: ‘Yes, well of course he would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox. He backs organisations like Hope not Hate who pursue violent and very undemocratic means.’
This vile slur (for which the charity is understandably threatening legal action) was followed by a wretched tweet from Arron Banks: ‘I’m sorry about his wife, but he chose massively to politicise it. Who does that?’
Well, the judge did that, Mr Banks. He found that Jo Cox’s murderer had acted to promote ‘a political, racial and ideological cause’.
What we have here is an attempt to shape the public debate so that views opposed to those of Farage, Banks and their ilk are regarded as politically loaded, and thereby impure. ‘You’re playing politics,’ they’re saying, ‘while I’m just an ordinary guy.’
You can certainly say that Hope not Hate has entered the political arena in the broadest sense, since it aims to have an influence – in this case completely for the better – in public life.
But compare this compassionate response to terrorist atrocities with those of the Farage brigade. They invariably seek to turn these horrors to callous political advantage.
‘I’m sorry about his wife, but . . . ‘ says almost everything you need to know about Arron Banks – except that, like the Trump creature across the water, he’s a millionaire pretending to care about the ordinary man and woman. Not quite the ordinary Joe after all.
These loathsome hijackers of the public mood undoubtedly have a following, if chiefly among people who will soon find themselves suffering for their folly in the polling booths. But what we of a liberal persuasion mustn’t allow is their hijacking of honest political discourse so that, in Orwellian fashion, good becomes bad and bad becomes supreme.