Today I have sold the slot to a friend. I say sold because I don't just give away posts here, they cost.
My guest is Pete Sutton, his bio is at the bottom. If you happen to see him out and about in Bristol please remind him that he owes me Chocolate Chip Cookies for letting him post on my blog.
Over the last few months Pete and I have been posting comments on a number of posts on Facebook that brought up the views and actions of UKIP. This is Pete's side.
In the interests of fairness I will ask Rob, the UKIP friend mentioned, to submit a guest post so that he can put his side.
The management wishes all readers to know the comments below do not represent the views of the management, I'm big enough and ugly enough to speak for myself.
What I have learned from debating with UKIP supporters.
Guest Post by Pete Sutton.
A friend of mine’s brother is a UKIP MEP and my friend is planning to stand for UKIP in the General Election. To say that my politics are not in line with UKIP would be an understatement. My friend has been posting typically UKIP style messages and over the months I’ve been patiently trying to offer an alternative view, to no effect. Very recently one of his UKIP friends challenged me to join the “UKIP debating the issues” Facebook Group.
The rules of this group make interesting reading (uncorrected) –
Welcome to the UKIP Debating The Real Issues is about having a polite friendly debate about things that affect us all from schools to immigration we are not an official ukip page.
Yes u may debate the banned subjects here but no arguing or swearing we are representing UKIP .
Please understand that this page is a freedom of speech page it flows as members choose the subjects.
If you like the group but don't like a subject or a post scroll past and enjoy the rest of the group we welcome everyone :)
Group rules sorry but we do need these guys .....
# no admin after 10pm so behave any rules broken in the morning straight ban
# NO correcting peoples spelling and grammar we are all here for one reason UKIP I will BAN this each other do so like sh#t
# no swearing if u feel the need to without insulting
# no racism
# any subject can be debated/discussed but kept polite and amicable
# no posting people's profiles
# anyone is welcome
# the word racist is banned
# feel free to post funny pics etc
# feel free to add anyone
# admin will ban on a last resort
# no belittling people or being rude we're all here for a reason and friends if u wanna say something say it in a polite way
# any posts cussing the group and admin will be removed
Now what I’ve said all along is that I don’t want to live in an echo chamber – I’m very aware that cognitive bias exists and that I suffer from it. I am a liberal, left leaning, think we should stay in the EU (based on my analysis which may be flawed) and think immigration is a mixed deal but provides a net benefit, although obviously on a micro level it could be either positive or negative. I like to challenge my thinking as I find that it helps me form my opinions. I’m also sceptical.
So I joined that group. After a little less than a week I’ve now left that group and have unfollowed my friend (not unfriended him but no longer want to see his posts). Why? It wasn’t because people were not polite. I was the subject of scorn and some patronising for trying to fact check and propose an alternative view but overall everyone was polite.
· My daily feed was suddenly full of hate
· I feel grubby
· There is very little intelligent debate
· Slavish cult of personality
· Conspiracy thinking & Persecution complex
· The “Racist” card
My daily feed was suddenly full of hate
We all live in a filter bubble, before joining this group I was occasionally faced with posts from my UKIP friend, very occasionally with UKIP related adverts after commenting on his posts. After joining this group I saw all the things that were posted in the group, many of them were anti-immigrant or islamaphobic. Wanting to comment on all of them to say “you’re just plain wrong” was a hard impulse to deny. Also this daily dose of hate just made me feel grubby.
I feel grubby
I lost a bit of my faith in humanity. The people in this group, and UKIPpers in general, as far as I’ve found them, are just nasty small minded bigots. Didn’t matter whatever was posted it would take very few comments before someone did the “raaar hate all Muslims” style post. Based on what I was reading I started to think the worst of my friend and the reason I unfollowed him was that because I thought the worst of him I attacked him for sharing a photograph, but it turns out our views of that photograph were exactly the same, he’d just failed to communicate his views clearly. I jumped to the wrong conclusion because I was seeing him in the same light as the folks I’d been seeing expressing their corrosive, odious opinions. When I saw people uncritically sharing Britain First’s material (which interestingly was totally in favour of Nigel Farage) and someone starting a thread with “when I was a member of the BNP …” I thought I’d dipped my foot in the sewage enough. I hate to generalise and fall into the same traps as the people I’m generalising about. But if the shoe fits.
There is very little intelligent debate
The majority of folk in that group are just looking for an echo chamber, the “Yes u may debate the banned subjects here” tells me that UKIP are trying very hard to appear to not be Xenophobic bigots and racists (as an aside - although there are a few old fashioned racists in UKIP the majority are not, by the strictest sense of the word). I did have a long debate on a post that started with the classic – “I’m not a racist but..” I also saw comments like “when will white British blah blah blah” – I tried to get one guy to define his “Britain should only be for the British” – but he didn’t seem to understand that there was a difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom and also thought the Irish were British & wouldn’t be told otherwise.
I tried to start a debate on the UKIP stance towards Green issues (UKIP will abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and scrap green subsidies. UKIP will repeal the Climate Change Act 2008 which costs the economy £18bn a year. UKIP will abolish green taxes and charges in order to reduce fuel bills. Source - http://www.ukip.org/policies_for_people ) – it is fair to say that Kippers are climate change sceptics. No-one wanted to debate this issue.
I tried to start a debate on the UKIP economic policy (extreme neoliberal). No-one wanted to debate this issue. The only comment I got on this was “I haven’t even read the economic policy so have no opinion on it”.
I tried to start a debate on why UKIP is being associated via Freedom Works with the US Tea Party and what this said about UKIP. No-one wanted to debate this issue.
But the amount of people who’d jump in with opinion (not considered) on what should happen to Paedophiles, or why should immigrants get benefits, or extreme outrage at any criticism of Nigel, UKIP or any Kipper was legion.
Slavish cult of personality
Politicians are a bunch of criminals. But Nigel Farage can do no wrong. Politics is corrupt and amoral. But Nigel Farage can do no wrong. Politicians don’t represent the common man. But Nigel Farage can do no wrong.
Confronted with evidence Nigel has done something dodgy ? The media is biased & “they” are out to get Nigel. Although interestingly the Daily Mail and its ilk are fighting the good fight and telling the truth. Not a single one of them would agree that right wing media show the world through a lens of bias and distortion. Although every single one of them think that the BBC & the rest of the media do. I recognise that all media is biased. I will fact check. I will try to see the true genesis of a story, check multiple sources and make my mind up based on what I can find out about the facts. This seems to be anathema to Kippers. If they agree with it they accept it uncritically. If they don’t agree with it its part of the conspiracy and “they would say that wouldn’t they”
I don’t use cult frivolously by the way. There really is a cult of Nigel that will brook no criticism. If Nigel says something then it must be right and true. I find this uncritical acceptance of manipulative authority very worrying.
There is no sense of irony when they attack everyone for things they jump to themselves. When a UKIP councillor was allegedly forced to resign as a school governor because of his UKIP views (and the devil would be in the details in that case I believe) I jokingly said “it’s against the equality act” and people wholeheartedly agreed and also suggested that it was against the Human Rights Act. No irony that equality and the HRA is bad when applied to “people not like us” but brilliant when applied to “proper British people”
Conspiracy thinking & Persecution complex
The longest debate I had on the group (and it turned out that when I thought I was finally getting an intelligent response it turned out it was from someone who wasn’t a Kipper) started with – “I’m not racist but has anyone noticed how PC the Christmas adverts are with mixed race families, black families, gay people. Do they think we’re stupid? It’s obvious what they’re doing”
My first comment in the group was in answer to this – “It’s not obvious to me”
Apparently “They” are forcing British people to accept non-British things like multiculturism and equality. “They” were trying to force people to see these things as normal so that “they” can change British culture beyond all recognition. This was the thread where someone said Britain is for the British. I tried to get a definition of what was British and what wasn’t but apparently it was “obvious” and the people argued the same point over and over – “being British is a state of mind”
Always the thinking from the Kippers is that immigrants get something that British people don’t, there is a sense of frustrated entitlement, that immigrants get all the jobs, all the benefits (without paying in), all the housing etc. There is a distinct denial of reality – government statistics are lies, independent bodies have been paid by the government to lie, the newspapers lie (unless of course it’s the Right Wing press) - in fact if it doesn’t gel with their own personal opinion it’s part of the conspiracy.
The people I came across who are passionate enough about their UKIP affiliation to join a group of like-minded people are conspiracy theorists. They are being kept down by the liberal elite (liberal elite what a laugh – like what the world needs is less liberty) and “our country will be taken away from us. Only by voting UKIP can we save our country!” It’s a strange and alien worldview.
The “Racist” card
Not all Kippers are old fashioned racists, but plenty are and plenty are in denial that they are, with skin colour being replaced with religion. It’s more that they’re nationalistic to an extreme (and therefore xenophobic) and bigoted. Islam is always bad. The EU is always bad. Immigrants are always bad. The government and politicians are always bad (unless they’re UKIP of course).
In conclusion, I’ve decided to live within my filter bubble. I need some time to regenerate my bonhomie. I am even more deeply worried by the rise of UKIP than I was before I knew any of them. I have found that some people have voted UKIP as a “protest” but if they have done so without really checking Kipper attitudes and policies, they may as well have voted BNP or Britain First as a protest. However I guess the nicest thing I can say is that UKIP are on the toilet’s rim, rather than in the bowl with those other ultra-right parties. UKIP have a veneer of respectability to appeal to those Kippers who realise that the BNP, Britain First and their ilk are a “little beyond the pale”. I am deeply deeply worried about the general election. I hope that there won’t be more Kippers in parliament. It is too easy to hate. What the country needs after Thatcher , Blair and Cameron is more compassion, not more hatred.
Pete Sutton is a UK writer and blogger. You can find him all over social media or worrying about events he’s organised at the Bristol Festival of Literature. On Twitter he’s @suttope and his Bristol Book Blog is here: http://brsbkblog.blogspot.co.uk/ He's contributing editor of Far Horizons e-magazine which can be found here: http://info-far-horizons.wix.com/far-horizons-emag
Pete is running a Crowd funding campaign to try and get an anthology published. You can help fund it by visiting this link - https://www.fundsurfer.com/project/north-by-southwest-anthology