Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the leader of UKIP, said (my emphasis):
“We are taking expert advice on how we could do it. It makes sense to ban the burka — or anything which conceals a woman’s face — in public buildings. But we want to make it possible to ban them in private buildings. It isn’t right that you can’t see someone’s face in an airport.”As the Times rightly points out this makes UKIP the first national party to call for a total ban, and plants them firmly in BNP territory. Not even the BNP has called for a ban in private buildings - they are, rather predictably, gloating.
Lord Pearson continues:
“We are not Muslim bashing, but this is incompatible with Britain’s values of freedom and democracy.”I'm not sure how Pearson correlates the values of freedom and democracy with being forcing not wear certain clothes. It would also appear to be an infringement of the 'equal before the law' part of the supposedly Libertarian-leaning party's constitution, which states:
2.3 The Party will be guided in its activities by the principle of non-discrimination, including non-racism and non-sectarianism, and will be guided by the principle that all people are equal before the law.Personally I largely hold the view that the less a government bans the better, I do not believe that a total ban in this case is the answer. Bans obviously should apply in areas where facial covering is deemed unacceptable for example; banks, building societies and airports, and it's also right to try to tackle genuine concerns regarding immigration and the rise of Sharia Law.
But to me Pearson is starting to show a worrying obsession with Islam, he was, after all, the person who invited anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders to the UK. He also stated in 2009 that Muslims are:
“breeding ten times faster than us. I don't know at what point they reach such a number we are no longer able to resist the rest of their demands. We must be looking at somewhere between 10 or 20 years. If we don't do something in the next year or two we have in effect lost."Is it Pearson's aim to have Muslim-bashing as UKIP's second priority and why on earth is he using similar language to the BNP? In all it leaves me frustrated and a little angry.
As someone who wants the UK to exit from the EU, I have very little choice at the ballot box. Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems have all signed up to the EU project (and will continue to do so), the BNP is, for obvious reasons, a non-starter, so the only realistically choice I have is, for the main political issue I really care about, UKIP.
It is the only political party I have ever campaigned for on the doorsteps, one that I've voted for more than any other, and I often do so against my own better judgment. I despair, at the antics of the leadership, the in-fighting and even the chaotic nature of UKIP's organisation and its amateurish internet presence. But I carry on because I passionately believe in Britain not being run by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
There are two main criticisms I have faced when campaigning;
1) UKIP is a joke party, with no other policies other than EU withdrawal.
and far more serious;
2) that any Eurosceptic must be a closet racist, xenophobic little Englander.
The finer points of the EU's impact can be easily lost in the damaging second accusation, so any discussion on immigration and Islam by UKIP has to be treated with caution. Something, which Pearson acknowledged himself last year on the Politics Show (no longer online):
“We’ve got to be very careful, especially in this area of immigration, that we cannot be confused with the BNP. I accept that. There’s a fine line to be drawn here...”UKIP needs to seriously focus on wider policy aims (which still suffer at the hands of the EU) such as education, crime and healthcare like the other parties.
However, thanks to Pearson, the job of trying to convince the electorate that UKIP is a non-racist, serious and 'safe' party to vote for has now become much much harder.