Gerard Batten drags Ukip further right with harsh anti-Islam agenda

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Ukip has proposed Muslim-only prisons, special security screening for Muslim would-be immigrants and a repeal of equalities laws before its annual conference, further indicating the party’s shift to the populist hard right under its leader, Gerard Batten.

The conference will be held from Friday. Other policies put forward in a so-called interim manifesto, which Batten said was aimed at making Ukip “a populist party in the real sense of the world”, include the abolition of the category of hate crime, as well as scrapping the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the government’s equalities office.

The document also calls for a national inquiry into the abuse of children and women by sexual grooming gangs, something it calls “one of the greatest social scandals in English history”.

Batten, who took over the Ukip leadership from the beleaguered Henry Bolton in April, has allied himself with the far-right campaigner Tommy Robinson, who is the figurehead for an informal movement that uses grooming gangs as a means by which to campaign more widely against Islam in the UK.

The Ukip manifesto says the activity of grooming gangs had been covered up for years due to “political correctness and the fear of identifying the vast majority of the perpetrators as Muslims”.

Batten is vehement in his views on Islam, having described the religion as “a death cult”. His influence is clear in a policy programme that is likely to increase fears among more moderate Ukip members that he is seeking to create a nationalist, anti-Islam party.

Two key themes are measures connected to what it describes as “Islamic literalist and fundamentalist extremism”, and an emphasis on what the party calls a threat to free speech “driven by the political doctrine of cultural Marxism”.

On Islam, it proposes combating militancy in prisons with segregated sections of jails, or even entire jails, reserved for Muslim prisoners “who promote extremism or try to convert non-Islamic prisoners”.

As part of a wider crackdown on immigration, the manifesto suggests arrivals from Muslim countries should face a “security-based screening policy” to check their views.

In the document’s introduction, Batten says Ukip was “determined to protect our freedom of speech and the right to speak our minds without fear of the politically correct thought police knocking on our doors”.

Policies also include scrapping the concept of hate crimes, whereby prejudice can be considered an aggravating factor in offences. In addition to abolishing equalities organisations and banning positive discrimination, Ukip would aim to get rid of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the British Council.

Other mooted policies include overseas nationals having to live in the UK for five years before buying homes, rail nationalisation, and the abolition of the Crown Prosecution Service, the Climate Change Act, the BBC licence fee, inheritance tax and stamp duty.

The programme would be both populist and popular, Batten predicted, in its stance against establishment ideas such as “open-border uncontrolled immigration, and imposing an alien politically correct cultural agenda on their peoples”.

Batten, who took over on an one-year interim term with a mission to stabilise a party that has floundered since Nigel Farage stood down in 2016, does face dissent from a number of insiders. Some senior figures have predicted that he could face mass departures if he moves Ukip further to the hard right.

The party’s conference in Birmingham will include addresses by two controversial YouTube personalities that Batten has brought into the party.

There will be a speech by Mark Meechan, who makes videos under the name Count Dankula. He styles himself as a comedian and free-speech advocate, but remains best known for being fined after he posted a video of his girlfriend’s pug dog giving Nazi salutes.

There will also be a video address by Carl Benjamin, otherwise known as Sargon of Akkad. His content is based around opposition to Islam, but he has been accused of misogyny and abuse.

Source: Gerard Batten drags Ukip further right with harsh anti-Islam agenda

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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