Just who are the unacceptable extremists, Douglas Carswell?

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?

Cold comfort

What cold comfort the relatives and loved ones of the hundred plus victims and fifty fatalities of the latest mass shooting in the US must receive from the prayers being offered them from certain quarters. Senator Thom Tillis, for instance, started praying for them yesterday and, rather generously, is continuing to pray for them today. Senator Cory Gardner is both praying and mourning and Senator Joni Ernst’s prayers are with them too. Senator Bill Cassidy offers prayer for them, and also support. Senator David Perdue sends his prayers; the mechanism of delivery presumably being invisible sky-fairy postmen. Senator Tom Cotton offers not only his prayers, but the prayers of all his constituents: one assumes there are no atheists in Arkansas. Senator Pat Roberts also uses those sky fairies to send his prayers, also accompanied by his thoughts. Senator Roy Blunt eschews prayers, but actually appears capable of spelling condolences. Equally sparing with his personal prayer-time, Senator Mitch McConnell can’t find his own to offer, but does note that those of the entire nation are with the victims and their families.

Prayers—especially those contained within the Twitter word limit—are cheap, but votes, it would appear, are not: for these nine senators alone have received a total of $22,596,399 in direct and indirect contributions from the NRA in the course of the careers. If they had prayed for more guidance concerning 1 Tim 6:10 or Luke 16:13 they might, perhaps, have thought twice about receiving such vast amounts of money to vote down gun control laws despite the fact that a clear majority of Americans favour them.

Which mourning relative, which traumatized survivor, which gay man or woman afraid to go out with their friends, which—to be frank—decent person of any country, faith, or background will read these tweets and feel anything but revulsion and disgust at the cheap, vacuous, and hypocritical platitudes of the very people who have obstructed even the most tentative steps towards making this kind of horror less of an everyday occurrence?