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It was during an interview with London radio station LBC that Nigel Farage (formerly leader of UKIP) accused Brendan Cox (husband of murdered MP Jo Cox) of supporting extremism by backing groups like Hope Not Hate. While blaming Angela Merkel’s ‘open door’ refugee policy for the terrorist attack in Berlin the previous day, he attracted criticism from Brendan Cox and responded abruptly. According to Farage, anti-racist group Hope Not Hate (backed by Cox):
Masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means.
At the time of writing Hope Not Hate are considering whether to initiate legal action against him for this remark. This isn’t the first time that Farage has blundered into controversy regarding Jo Cox, murdered on June 16 by extremist Thomas Mair. Only days after the crime Farage spoke on the EU membership referendum stating that, if the ‘Leave’ lobby won:
We will have done it without having to fight, without a single shot being fired.
Considering that Ms Cox was shot, this forced him into an apology. Neither that apology or his Tweeting his sympathies to the Cox family after her murder seem quite as sincere now. Especially not when UKIP started the inflammatory ‘Breaking Point’ ad campaign on immigration which began at the time of Jo Cox’s murder. A poster from that campaign was also reported to police by UNISON figure Dave Prentis for inciting racial hatred.
Nor, unfortunately, does the unpleasantness end there.
Arron Banks, one of UKIP’s largest financial backers, commissioned a poll only days after Cox’s murder investigating what effect it might have had on the vote. He was utterly unapologetic on June 20 when he too spoke to LBC, admitting he had commissioned the poll so soon after her murder. Today Banks weighed in against Brendan Cox via Twitter with such charming remarks as:
I’m sorry about his wife but he chose to massively politicise it. Who does that?
Based on your own conduct, Mr. Banks, it seems that you do.
Fresh from his recent Twitter humiliation at the hands of historian Mary Beard, Banks managed to handle the resulting criticism for this comment with all his customary grace and good will. As is all too evident from his replies to tweets criticising him.
The irony of commissioning the poll only days after her murder for political ends, then accusing her husband of using her murder for political ends seems to have escaped Banks. It also seems to have escaped James Delingpole of embattled right-wing website Breitbart, who took to Twitter to refer to Brendan Cox as:
Again, the unpleasantness doesn’t end there.
Raheem Kassam, Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart London (although based in Washington DC) chose not to scrape the barrel. He chose to break through the bottom and tunnel under it on a scale a prisoner of Stalag 17 would have been proud of. His Twitter feed includes such niceties as insulting Iain Martin (a decent journalist), gratuitously insulting and smearing Hope Not Hate, inviting them to sue him while hiding behind the US Constitution permitting freedom of expression, insulting Brendan Cox and retweeting a doctored image of Angela Merkel with blood on her hands. An image originally tweeted by Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders. The same Geert Wilders recently convicted by a Dutch court of inciting hatred. Showing consummate journalistic professionalism and a truly staggering lack of self-awareness, he also includes this thought for the day:
Mr Kassam, it really doesn’t seem that hard to define you based on your use of social media.
These are, allegedly senior political and media figures. Their apparent inability to behave like them says little for either them or the organisations they represent. Whether people share Brendan Cox’s opinions is almost beside the point. The facts are that his wife was murdered by a right-wing extremist, that other right-wingers accuse him of capitalising on her death while doing exactly that, that they indulge in behaviour barely worthy of schoolboys rather than the supposed leaders they claim to be.
If they and Donald Trump really are, as their followers seem to believe, humanity’s last hope then one thought comes to mind.
Be very, very afraid…