Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Lord Pearson of Rannoch’

Sod the Lot!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 11th April, 2010

Tory blogger Iain Dale has given his readers a sneak preview of UKIP’s election poster, which, one has to admit, cheekily captures the mood of disenchantment with politicians that can be found amongst voters (and non voters) of every social stratum in Britain. It also has the merit of being funny, which most political propaganda doesn’t. However, Sod the Lot’s appeal is superficial and hides UKIP’s less attractive reality, most eloquently displayed by the party’s leader, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who has been issuing dire warnings about how, over the next five years, the ‘Brussels octopus’ will tighten its tentacles round Britain and suck us all into its bowels. Does an octopus have bowels, I wonder?  But let’s not digress. UKIP represents the worst form of Little Englanderism, at times bordering on hooliganism. The behaviour of some of UKIP’s MEPs (including Barbara Cartland’s grandson, the Earl of Dartmouth) when (Baroness) Cathy Ashton appeared before the European Parliament recently was nothing short of disgraceful. Moreover, last year UKIP wrongly benefited during the European elections from public anger over MPs’ expenses — despite the fact that a couple of its own MEPs had been the suject of criminal charges. The party’s most high-profile figure — and former leader — Nigel Farage has abandoned his duties as an MEP to try to oust the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, in Buckingham at the forthcoming general election. People who are tempted to vote UKIP bcause of its apparent anti-establishment nature should examine the nature of its policies and the behaviour of its representatives carefully, then maybe they will decide that they should ‘sod’ UKIP even more than the rest!

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UKIP Calls for Ban on Burqas

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 16th January, 2010

The leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) — and its only Westminster parliamentarian — Lord Pearson of Rannoch has said that his party wishes to ban the wearing of the burqa or the niqab (full face veil) not only in public buildings, but in private ones too, if possible. ‘We are taking advice on how we could do it,’ he informed The Times. This puts UKIP even further to the right than the British National Party (BNP) on the issue, as the BNP has only called for a burqa ban in schools. Both are of course pandering to the irrational fears of a disenfranchised white working class which feels abandoned by the Labour Party and ignored by politicians in general. But some right-wing county types in the shires will doubtless also applaud UKIP’s stand on the issue. They will probably sympathise with Lord Pearson’s statement that UKIP wants to bring to the fore the issue of the alleged increasing influence of Shariah (Islamic law) in Britain. ‘We are not Muslim-bashing,’ he says. ‘but this is incompatible with British values of freedom and democracy.’

Apparently Lord Pearson is blind to the irony in that statement, as British values of freedom of democracy have at their core tolerance and diversity — both things that UKIP and the BNP clearly reject. Moreover, Lord Pearson’s claim that this is ‘not Muslim-bashing’ is disingenuous, as that is exactly how it will be seen by many of Britain’s Muslims.  The proposed burqa/niqab ban also gives a green light to racist bigots to insult and maybe even assault women wearing it, which alas already happens sometimes. I find it sad that some Muslim women (or their husbands/fathers/brothers, on their behalf) feel it necessary to cover their face completely — as opposed to wearing modest dress, which is what the Quran actually stipulates — but I respect their right to be able to do so in most public situations. There have to be some limited exceptions, of course, but these should indeed be the exception, not the rule. Many of my Bengali neighbours in Tower Hamlets habitutally wear the niqab when they leave the house. I wasn’t surprised that politicians in France (which is an officially secular nation) should call for a burqa ban, but it is depressing that a British political party — albeit one as loopy as UKIP — should be following suit and thereby fuelling the fire of community discord.

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