In today’s Guardian Robert Booth and Rajeev Syal report that that the UK Independence Party and its leader Nigel Farage, who have been boosted by their candidate’s second place in the Eastleigh by-election and are now installed in their new upmarket headquarters in Mayfair, have set themselves the task of reining in the extremists who are drawn to UKIP.
As Booth and Syal point out: “There are plenty of awkward associations in his party for Farage to negotiate from his new base. In January, the Dewsbury, West Yorkshire branch of the far-right English Defence League declared its support for Ukip and one member, John Emms, complained on Ukip’s official web forum that the British National party was ‘subject to persecution by the Political Correction Liberal Left thugs’.”
Another far-rightist who has been inspired by UKIP’s anti-immigration rhetoric is one Mick Parker, an EDL activist from Stoke-on-Trent. Here is a recent Facebook comment from Parker in which he calls for arson attacks on mosques.
Stoke-on-Trent is of course the town where an EDL member and his associate received 10-year prison sentences after being convicted of an attempted arson attack on a local mosque.
The problem Farage faces is not just that fascist thugs are drawn to UKIP but also that sympathy for the Islamophobic far right extends up into the top ranks of his party. Only last year Christopher Monckton expressed his regret that extremists like former UKIP parliamentary candidate Paul Weston had left the party and appealed to them to rejoin UKIP.