That multi talented Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, continues to show off to anyone who will listen to him. He has now taken a career break and retrained as a judge for Crufts, the posh pooch show for posh pooches.
At least that is what his latest utterance would have you believe.
Last week Nigel Farage of UKIP visited Edinburgh and several hundred people turned out to protest. These people are perfectly entitled to protest, in fact protest has a long tradition in the British Isles, it presents itself in many guises. I’m protesting now, as my fingers hit the keys on my laptop. It’s healthy in a democracy and goodness knows, if the current state of politics was a patient attending a doctor, it would be prescribed a huge dose of vitamins in the shape of some healthy protest.
UK politics is very unhealthy.
If it could be represented as a child’s see saw it would see the Right Wing of politics firmly weighting it’s end to the ground. With the noble exceptions of Scotland and Wales there is virtually no political representative of the Left in the Westminster system. Labour are Right Wing, the Tories are Right Wing and the LibDems (Rennie’s party) are Right Wing. (Forgive the left/right orientation of the seesaw, but hopefully you get the visual metaphor).
We also have the new kid on the block in the shape of UKIP.
My personal opinion of UKIP is that they are tapping into legitimate concerns regarding issues which are basically manifestations of chronically bad government by the present Coalition, coupled by 3 terms of a Labour Government which practically brought a modern European state to it’s social and economic knees. However that is where my understanding stops because I sincerely believe that these oft raised concerns are masking a deep seated neo-fascist tendency within UKIP.
Do people not remember their history? This is the 1930s revisited. I’m old enough to have spent time in my youth with people who were present both before, during and immediately after this difficult time. Their recollections made grim listening.
The above picture is not some scene from Nazi Germany and that isn’t Hitler receiving the salute from his willing followers during a parade in Nuremburg.
The British Union of Fascists was a political party in the United Kingdom formed in 1932 by Oswald Mosley. In 1936, it changed its name to the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists. They were popularly known as the Blackshirts and they are chillingly similar to the modern day UKIP of Nigel Farage. The Blackshirts thrived in a atmosphere of economic turmoil and turned their wrath on “the other” within society. In their case it was Jewish people who were the targets. The move to the extreme Right was mirrored across Europe at the time, with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy being the most obvious examples. We should all be aware of where that tragic road finally lead.
Personally I don’t want to see anything like that happen again.
My view is shared by many, many people, including my fellow Scots.
We simply find UKIP distasteful and potentially dangerous. So distasteful, in fact, that several hundred people decided to protest against Nigel Farage when he visited Scotland last week.
We should be grateful for these people. By protesting they served to keep the spotlight on Farage, UKIP and the extremely questionable beliefs that UKIP appear to embrace.
Gratitude, however, was not forthcoming from WIllie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. I quote him below;
“Alex Salmond needs to call off the dogs for Nigel Farage’s visit. I disagree fundamentally with Nigel Farage’s opinion on many things, but his agenda will be defeated by argument, not aggression.”
I find that statement to be the gravest of insults to those brave, sincere people who took the time to turn out and make their voices heard.
Willie Rennie refers to them as “dogs”!!!!
He also makes the error and false presumption of associating the protestors with the SNP. I’m quite sure that some were SNP supporters. I’m also quite sure many were not, and indeed there may have been Unionist supporters among them. If I take myself as an example; I don’t like UKIP. I’m protesting about them now as I write this blog. I’m not a member of the SNP and Alex Salmond doesn’t command me or tell me what to do. I’m a free agent and I choose what I do through free will. Just like the protesters. Does that make me a dog, Willie Rennie?
The trouble with Willie Rennie is that he would be as poor a judge of dogs as he is of people.
But isn’t his statement indicative of the Unionist mindset?
He really does think that anti-fascist, anti-homophobia protesters are beneath contempt. He associates healthy, legitimate protest with the big bogey man of the SNP. Rennie is so bitter with the resentment that he holds towards the SNP that it has completely clouded his judgement.
I find that quite frightening, because Rennie is now prepared to come out and condemn protesters against UKIP. Has Unionism moved so far to the Right? Perhaps not consciously in the minds of Unionists, but Rennie’s actions are deeply, deeply worrying. His love for Westminster, his embracing of Neo Liberal economic and social politics, by default, has pushed him into a space occupied by UKIP. Love for the British State is now defined by UKIP. They are the agenda, just as they now control the agenda and as fellow Unionists, the LibDems are now required to support UKIP when UKIP find themselves under attack and scrutiny in Scotland.
Unionism is rapidly painting itself into a neo fascist corner with Willie Rennie holding the red, white and blue paint pots.
When the LibDems, however obliquely, show support for UKIP, you know it’s time to leave this sorry mess of a Union behind.