Glass vs Farage: “Farage won the battle for a story which followed.”

Glass vs Farage: “Farage won the battle for a story which followed.”

The events on Sunday 22 March, that saw UKIP leader Nigel Farage hounded out of his local pub by protesters, highlight perfectly the almost surreal position of UK politics today, as well as the role of the press in shaping public opinion.

Conflicting accounts from the day’s events mean, at times, it is difficult to separate truth from stories created by the protesters and UKIP. The following events can be dissected from the slanderous accounts on both sides and provide a general picture of what occurred:

Activist Dan Glass, who in 2008 superglued himself to Gordon Brown, lead his ‘cabaret of diversity’, containing groups affected by Farage’s exclusionary immigration and right-wing domestic policy, through the sleepy town of Downe, Kent as a form of direct protest. The protesters were dressed as immigrants, breast-feeding mothers, HIV positive people, gay people, and the disabled. They thus represented almost all groups targeted by UKIP’s right wing policies (although it’s hard to find anyone aside from white straight men, who UKIP policies do not prejudice). The campaigners made their way by coach to Downe, holding resident at a booked room in the George and Dragon pub. The group, when hearing of a sighting of Farage in the nearby pub The Queen’s Head, then moved location, through the medium of singing conga line, to meet with the UKIP party leader.

Photo: Beyond UKIP

Photo: Beyond UKIP

From here, the events which unfolded become screwed by accounts driven by selfish political agenda and back covering (probably from both sides).

Protesters entered the pub and hounded Farage for answers, causing him to make a swift exit from the pub. Within hours of the protest, headlines claim that the politician’s family were having lunch with Farage, and the disturbance caused by the 70 or so activists frightened the children, who are 10 and 15 respectively, so much so that they “ran away’”. “I hope these ‘demonstrators’ are proud of themselves’”, Mr Farage said afterwards. “My children were so scared by their behaviour that they ran away to hide”.

No public figure, not even one as intolerant and discriminatory as Farage, deserves their private sphere so abruptly shaken that their children are involved. However, witnesses of the events, including staff at the pub and the protesters themselves, reported after that they saw “no kids”, and that Farage was at the end of his pint, alone when the protest group arrived.

Largely due to the supposed involvement of Farage’s children, the protesters have been criticised heavily for Sunday’s activity. Farage, forever diplomatic dubbed them ‘scum’, and media coverage focussed heavily on the pitiless actions of the protesters personally against Farage’s wife and children. Guardian reporter James Kirkup accused the protester’s actions as ‘un-British’, slandering direct attacks on politicians, through protests and social media.

Farage leaving the pub. Photo: PA

Farage leaving the pub. Photo by PA

Far right group Britain First, who pledged their support to UKIP in their general election campaign, reportedly found names, addresses and phone numbers on the protesters, and then proceeded to send those involved death threats. That doesn’t seem very ‘British’ either. When you take into account the objectives and tactics of a party so rooted in prejudice and hate, normal rules don’t apply. To label the protesters as “shameful” for interrupting Mr Farage’s Sunday lunch seems a tad unfair, when the proposed policies by UKIP, if put into place, would negatively impact so many, as well as setting this country back at least 50 years.

What is clear, when looking at the media coverage that followed Sunday’s events is that Farage won the battle for a story which followed.

Glass’ activism brought together an event that ‘celebrated diversity’. Talks from those who are HIV positive, Muslim speakers and holocaust survivors rocked diversity, as well as warned of the potential damage UKIP could cause modern Britain if elected. Their protest was peaceful and unintimidating. For Farage to spin the story to his own gain, with the finished article sympathetic towards him, just highlights what him and UKIP do best.

After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that Farage has manipulated the truth for his own gain.


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