Mike Read on UKIP campaign literature (Photo by Oscar Webb)
This week, two important things happened in the Tory vs. UKIP battle for the hearts and minds of Britain's right-wing voters.
Firstly, UKIP fan and former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read made something called "The UKIP Calypso" - an anti-immigration calypso song sung by a white guy in a faux-Caribbean accent. Rather than distancing himself from it - like when Godfrey Bloom referred to countries that needed foreign aid as "Bongo Bongo land" - party leader Nigel Farage encouraged people to buy it and send it to number one in the charts. Read, for his part, asked today that the song be withdrawn, and apologised if it had caused offence.
Then, yesterday, Ken Clarke - an influential and pro-EU Conservative Party MP, who probably has enough taste to be horrified by "The UKIP Calypso" - said that some of his Eurosceptic fellow Tories should join UKIP, rather than buggering up his own party with their nonsense. He said there was a "wave of hysteria against immigration" and warned David Cameron against "competing with ignorance and bigotry".
Unfortunately, that competition is already well underway. The last year and a bit of British governance has largely involved the Conservatives trying to win back support from UKIP by showing them up as a bunch of posers. "Sure, Nigel Farage says some pretty outrageous things," they seem to be saying, "but we're the only ones who can actually turn any of your bigoted fantasies into reality."
Since a relatively senior Tory has basically admitted that this competition is happening, we thought now was a good time to recap on the grand Conservative vs. UKIP bigot-off. So here it is:
(Photo by Jake Lewis)
The Tories mostly hung up their gay-hating boots when they legalised marriage between same-sex couples in July of last year, with the resounding support of less than half of their MPs. The occasional indiscreet tweet still slips through, but there are also now 20 out gay Tory MPs.
Conservatives who are nostalgic for the days of Section 28 - when Thatcher banned "promoting homosexuality" in schools - have one option: join UKIP. The Kippers have kept their line on gays nice and ambiguous to attract the traditional mix of staunch homophobes and people who don't really mind whether they're members of a homophobic party or not.
Earlier this year, Nigel Farage refused to comment on whether he supported gay marriage. Other members of UKIP have been less guarded in their opinions. Roger Helmer, who ran as the UKIP candidate in the Newark by-election earlier this year, said in 2000 that being gay is "abnormal and undesirable" and not to be "celebrated", adding it was "not a lifestyle worthy of valid equal respect". He also compared same-sex marriage to incest.
Some more examples of UKIP disliking the LGBTI community *deep breath*: one of their candidates wrote on Facebook that "poofters" should be shot; one of their councillors said it was a "tragedy" that Section 28 was abolished; another councillor blamed heavy flooding on the legalisation of same-sex marriage; and a former UKIP candidate has been campaigning for Grindr to be banned and said previously that the gay rights movement was a "lunatics charter".
(Photo by Nick Pomeroy)
Were you born a human being? Think that somehow makes you special, you fucking prince? Neither UKIP nor the Tories give a shit. Both parties are fundamentally unimpressed by the principle that all people on Earth should have some basic rights in common by virtue of our shared humanity.
As such, they both want to do away with the Human Rights Act and pull out of the European Convention On Human Rights. Both claim this will champion the individual over the overbearing European state. They want to create a British Bill of Rights instead, which looks likely to have fewer rights for non-British people, terrorists and British people who claim benefits.
The European Convention On Human Rights gives us the right to liberty and security of the person; the right not to be enslaved or tortured; the right to a fair trial; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of assembly and association and freedom of expression. Basically, mate, it's political correctness gone mad.
(Photo by Milo Belgrove)
Nigel Farage is a man who can say, "Any normal and fair-minded person would have a perfect right to be concerned if a group of Romanian people suddenly moved in next door," add that Romanians were more likely to be criminals and somehow not lose his job.
That's why the Tories have spent their last couple of years in government worrying that they're being made to look like chumps when it comes to anti-migrant brazenness. As such, they've created a "hostile environment" for people who come here not by the book, which has led to asylum seekers going on hunger strike while in detention centres.
Nigel Farage recently ratcheted up the pressure by saying that people with HIV should be barred from immigrating. It was pretty clever. A lot of people already hate immigrants, and everybody hates AIDS. David Cameron can't agree because he'd lose the vote of anyone with a heart and a brain. So, packing a double punch, Farage has also neatly planted the idea that Cameron would be chill about an AIDS epidemic into the political arena.
The prime minister announced plans earlier this month to introduce a cap on the number of EU nationals allowed to emigrate to Britain. UKIP, meanwhile, have proposed the introduction of a points-based immigration system, similar to the one Australia have employed. Which proposal is more oppressive? Judging by the way things are going for immigrants down under, you'd have to guess the Australian method, right?
(Photo by Oscar Webb)
UKIP would ban teaching on climate change in schools and abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change because man-made global warming is "just not happening". They really, really hate wind farms.
On this score, the Conservatives are the polar opposite, emphasising the importance of being "the greenest government ever".
To make this happen, they've appointed a succession of people who love fracking, as well as those who believe renewable energy is for hippie layabouts, to prominent cabinet posts to do with the environment.
Unsurprisingly, UKIP have made various pronouncements on women that read like the transcript of a dinner party conversation between Jeremy Clarkson, Anjem Choudary and the LSE rugby team. However, the highlight is probably Godfrey Bloom MEP saying, "Women, in spite of years of training in art and music - and significant leisure time in the 18th and 19th centuries - have produced few great works."
That said, he clearly gets women, analysing the differences between the sexes with incredible insight: "Leaving the lavatory seat up, wet towels on the bed and the top left off the toothpaste will drive a wife mad. A man simply cannot understand what the problem is."
Seemingly their biggest bugbear, though, is women working. UKIP representatives have repeated a consistent line that business owners probably shouldn't hire people with vaginas because they'll only go and get pregnant at some point, which is hardly beneficial to business.
Listening closely were the Conservative Party, who cleverly had an all-male front bench for a short time. I mean, you can hardly take time out for a sprog when your job is running the bloody country, can you? However, they came under fire from people who claimed that men running absolutely everything is a bit shit and old fashioned, so in the most recent reshuffle they promoted some women who voted against gay marriage to balance things out.
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I guess, overall, UKIP take the bigoted crown. The scary thing is that while David Cameron used to mock them as "fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists mostly", his party is now trying to be as much like them as it can possibly be without alienating everybody else. Next week, look forward to a Philip Hammond x Gogol Bordello EP about Roma immigrants being a blight on our nation.
More Conservatives and UKIPers: