Sunday, May 11, 2014
Ex-Dulwich College 'fascist' seeks your protest vote
Channel 4 news reported this week that when UKIP leader Nigel Farage was a pupil at Dulwich College in the early 1980s teachers complained about his appointment as a prefect on account of his apparent 'fascist' sympathies. A letter written in June 1981 to the college head by teacher Chloe Deakin states that the matter had been discussed at a staff meeting where: 'Another colleague, who teaches the boy, described his publicly professed racist and neo-fascist views; and he cited a particular incident in which Farage was so offensive to a boy in his set, that he had to be removed from the lesson. This master stated his view that this behaviour was precisely why the boy should not be made a prefect. Yet another colleague described how, at a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) camp organised by the college, Farage and others had marched through a quiet Sussex village very late at night shouting Hitler-youth songs'.
Some other interesting details in that report- the letter states that the head often told the 'senior boys' that they were 'the nation's future leaders' - what a horrible thought in this case. It also mentions that during the Brixton riots - just 6 weeks before this prefect row - Dulwich College 'offered its facilities freely to the forces of law and order'. Apparently parts of the College grounds were used as a base by police in April 1981.
Whether Farage has moderated his views since or just got better at concealing them I don't know, but his publicly professed position is still essentially that of the most reactionary, Powellite fringes of the old school establishment. The kind of thing you imagine old generals, Monday Club Tory MPs and public school headteachers coming out with while drunkenly fantasising about a military coup in the 1970s.
Yet somehow this privately educated right wing stockbroker with his very big house in the country gets to be presented as some kind of 'common man' alternative to the status quo. Writer Tony Parsons has said that: "I've felt that politicians are just completely removed from any kind of life experiences in a way they weren't when I was growing up" and complained about the lack of opportunities for social mobility for working class kids. Fair enough, but what's that got to do with Farage and UKIP, who Parsons says he will be voting for in forthcoming elections.
I can only assume Parsons has taken too many blows to the head down at the boxing gym to think straight. Back in 1977, he was a bit clearer, coming to New Cross to oppose the National Front march in what became known as the 'Battle of Lewisham'. He once said that his relationship with Julie Burchill started that day- "I gave her a flick knife and my telephone number. I think she threw away the number and kept the knife.". His 2005 novel 'Stories we could tell' includes an account of that day, with Parsons writing:
'Flags waving, bricks flying, policemen on horses riding into the crowds, the battle lines ebbing and flowing - screaming, righteous chaos all around. Orange smoke bombs on Lewisham High Street, the air full of masonry, dustbins, bottles and screams, taunts, chanting. The sound of plate-glass windows collapsing.... This wasn't about some little style option - the choice between long hair or spiky, flared trousers or straight, Elvis or Johnny Rotten. It was about a more fundamental choice.... the choice between evil, hatred, racism, xenophobia, bigotry, and everything that was their opposite'.
See previously: UKIP's vanishing New Cross poster.