Where Was Nigel Farage’s Safe Space When Left Wing Bullies Attacked?

Nigel Farage UKIP Pub Protesters Attack Protest Free Speech

 

It is increasingly fashionable among self-identified progressives and left-wingers, particularly within academic environments, to promote the idea of “safe spaces” – places where the normal right to free speech is heavily curtailed in order to protect designated minorities and victim groups from encountering words and ideas that might cause them mental discomfort.

This blog finds the idea of such “safe spaces” utterly repellent, and a prime symptom of the infantilisation of many students in Britain and America – a generation of cosseted idealists who interpret any political disagreement as a sinister attempt to “invalidate their experiences”, who are unable to tolerate even polite dissent and who are lightning-quick to call for authority figures to come crashing down upon the heads of those who question their “dearly and closely held beliefs”.

But put aside the childishness of the “safe space” and the potentially chilling implication of such policies on the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Put aside the fact that protecting certain ideas from scrutiny, however noble they may be, leads to intellectual atrophy and erodes our democracy in just the same way it undermines the core purpose of a university.

What is really shocking is the double-standard at play. Those designated victim groups and their advocates on the left are free to say and do anything they please, empowered and protected by the perceived righteousness of their cause, while those outside this bien pensant collective have no right to hold their own opinions, let alone to express them or to campaign for them politically.

It is this double-standard which allows a mob of young anti-UKIP protesters to invade a London pub far from the campaign trail where UKIP leader Nigel Farage was quietly enjoying lunch with his family, to harass and intimidate Farage’s family to the extent that his young children fled and were separated from their parents, and to jump on the bonnet of his car as he attempted to drive away – and still come away feeling as though it were they, the mob, who had taken a stand for freedom, tolerance and decency.

From the Telegraph’s report:

Nigel Farage and his family have been chased out of a pub in Kent and had their car attacked by protesters demonstrating against the UK Independence Party (Ukip).

The Ukip leader labelled the demonstrators “scum” on Sunday afternoon and said his two children had yet to return after the family got split amid the hostility.

Mr Farage said his children were so scared they had to hide from the protesters and criticised them for using force to make their point.

The protestors, who dressed as migrants and breastfeeding mothers to express their opposition to Ukpi, sent messages to journalists boasting of jumping on Mr Farage’s car bonnet.

(It is ironic that recent anti-UKIP television programmes have all included footage of far-right racist mobs on the rampage when conjuring their dystopian vision of a UKIP-governed Britain, yet the only mobs connected with UKIP in real life have been the baying crowds that chased Nigel Farage in Edinburgh, pelted him with eggs in Nottingham, and now chased his young family out of a pub in London).

No doubt the protesters went home feeling very satisfied with themselves after chasing a man, his wife and their two young children away from the pub where they were having lunch, simply because they held different political views. The type of person who takes joy in hounding a family trying to enjoy a meal together probably also lacks the mental faculties to appreciate that people may have markedly different political opinions, but that this does not make them any less valid.

Nigel Farage UKIP Pub Protest

 

Look at the faces of these young protesters – smiling and taking selfies together as they hounded a man and his frightened family away from the place where they were enjoying a quiet lunch. The costumes worn by the activists were quirky and bright, but the primal human emotion that motivated them was dark, and ageless. This is not a new phenomenon – they were a mob in the classic sense of the word, and they did what mobs always do.

When the anti-UKIP protesters decided to take their opposition to Nigel Farage’s policies and confront him in an aggressive manner in a context and environment far removed from the campaign trail, they crossed a line. They are little better than the mob in Telford who bayed for a suicidal man to “get on with it and jump” while filming the tragic spectacle on their smartphones.

If you disagree with UKIP’s stance on immigration, taxes, healthcare or anything else, you can go to any party meeting or campaign event and air your dissent. You can heckle Nigel Farage when he speaks. You can ask questions, shout insults, mail bricks to UKIP’s campaign headquarters, create a fake political party and stand for election to ridicule their beliefs, or engage in any other number of stunts. But you don’t get to storm into the restaurant where an unguarded politician is eating with his family, away from the campaign trail, and force them to flee just because you don’t like their politics.

And this goes to the heart of the hypocrisy at work on the left: those who enjoy designated “victim” status are coddled by policies designed to ensure that they never have to face dissenting opinion, while those who hold ideas and opinions outside the approved orthodoxy are fair game for any manner of insults, personal attacks and harassment.

Where were the outraged student activists standing up for Nigel Farage’s right to peacefully enjoy a family dinner without being “shamed” and “invalidated” by the dissenting opinions of the protesters?

Where was the concern that by coming after a politician with this callous stunt, the protesters were effectively sending a message that it is now open season for the public humiliation of anyone with a “vote UKIP” sign in their window, or a purple bumper sticker on their car?

Or to put it in a way that the protesters might actually understand: where was Nigel Farage’s safe space?

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11 thoughts on “Where Was Nigel Farage’s Safe Space When Left Wing Bullies Attacked?

  1. David Smith March 23, 2015 / 7:12 PM

    Nigel Farage was spot on with his description of these thugs, describing them as “scum”, they have claimed that they “did not see any children”, of course you didn’t you morons, they where running for their lives. It has been said on more than one occasion that those who shout loudest about tolerance, are the most intolerant of all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper March 24, 2015 / 12:08 AM

      Agreed – there certainly wasn’t much tolerance on display at the “anti-UKIP cabaret” last night.

      When people wear their political views as a fashion statement (as I believe some do, particularly on the left) there must be a great temptation to get carried away and follow the crowd taking part in stunts like this, rather than stepping back and thinking twice. A lot of people burnished their trendy, left-wing credentials with this stunt, but unfortunately it came at the expense of Nigel Farage’s family and children.

      Like

  2. angharadlois March 23, 2015 / 12:29 PM

    Agreed, it was appalling behaviour. For similar reasons, I have never felt able to join in with anti-EDL marches: no matter how much I disagree with their actions, I can’t in all good conscience join a crowd chanting “whose streets? OUR streets!” – especially as someone who opposes the privatisation of public land.

    However… I do think you (and the articles to which you linked) are somewhat missing the point of “safe space.” Some people in our society have experienced horrible discrimination and abuse, and I think it is fair for such people to ask to establish a time and place where they can meet socially to discuss their concerns away from the kind of harassment they might normally face in more public arenas. Free speech doesn’t mean every single moment of our lives should be open for a free-for-all public debate; people are still entitled to their privacy and, yes, to their safe spaces, even in public – at the table in a pub, for example, or in a specially-booked room for a group meeting. The main thing to question is where we draw the borders.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper March 24, 2015 / 12:20 AM

      I also have an aversion to such chants, be it “Tory scum off our streets”, or any other variant. Whether it is being said by people on the left or right, it hints at a worrying tendency to want to squash dissent and shut down debate rather than to persuade and convert through dialogue. I might disagree with anti-capitalist demonstrators, but I would never call from them to be forced off “our streets” – I have enough confidence with my own world view and curiosity about other peoples’ to want to see anyone with the urge to protest publicly be able to do so.

      I understand your point about safe spaces but worry that in the end we will just end up legislating for common decency. To me, it seems unlikely that a racist or homophobe would moderate their language according to the zoning within a Students Union building or pub. Besides which, if someone was to cause gratuitous offence in any social setting they should face the opprobrium and backlash that generally comes with being an idiot, which should suffice in terms of punishment (provided that they do not go on to incite violence or break some other law). Any more than this seems less about protecting the feelings of the minority or victim group in question, and more about punishing thought crime, which is never a good thing.

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      • angharadlois March 24, 2015 / 11:43 AM

        Agreed: we can’t legislate for a change in culture, and nor should we try. I would disagree that we even need specific “zoning” in pubs and the like. In my limited experience of large public conferences, however, under-represented groups asking for time and space to consider their own issues do tend to face a backlash for even daring to ask – thus proving the need for such a space, if only as a temporary measure. This is not to say that the same limits created in a designated area for a designated time ought to be applied uniformly across all public spaces; that would be ridiculous, but that is often the straw man used when people argue against the idea of safe space as a whole.

        It would be lovely to live in a world where anyone who acted abusively towards another would automatically face opprobrium, but I don’t think we’re there yet; partly because abuse isn’t always as obvious as we would like to think it is, and partly because… well, when was the last time you spoke up to defend someone in public? I let something slide yesterday and have been wondering if I should have said something. It happens a lot. There are a lot of grey areas covering the way we treat each other, and certan behaviours don’t have to be illegal to be wrong (an idea that came up in another debate I had recently, about Clarkson…).

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  3. mifmif March 23, 2015 / 8:55 AM

    I heard Glass on the radio and he said that they did not enter the pub where Nigel was. Then someone phoned that was having a meal in the pub at the same time and he said that about forty of them entered the pub, the land lady asked them to leave as they were shouting and being a nuisance. They refused to leave and surrounded nigel and his family that is when the family were split up. So Glass might not have entered the pub but his supporters did, therefore he was lying.

    Like

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