After the UKIP debacle (and irony) of being banished from the Crown to the Europa last Wednesday, the Hope not Hate blog has done some digging into the complexion of the company Nigel Farage was keeping at the time.
Farage’s companions included political allies of James Dowson of Britain First, occasionally the BNP, and, a recurring figure on the local flag protest scene. More pointedly, according to the blog, they were UDA figures who it is claimed were then involved in an attack on Friday that was part of an internal loyalist feud. The focus of the attack was John Bunting who has reportedly been at the centre of a UDA feud in North Belfast. According to the report in the blog:
On Friday morning, two days after meeting Farage for a “pint”, Hill was part of a gang of men involved in the brutal attack on senior UDA leader John Bunting by a UDA breakaway group. According to reports “Bunting and his sidekick Tommy Pearson were ambushed and beaten on the Limestone Road in the north of the city on Friday afternoon by a gang of renegades as tensions within the terror group threaten to spiral out of control.
The North Belfast brigadier was left bloodied and bruised after being repeatedly punched and kicked to the ground.
Within minutes of the daylight attack members of the UDA in the north and south of the city were mobilised with orders to track down Bunting’s attackers, who have now been labelled as dead men walking.”
With an election taking place this week, UKIP are being placed both first and third in what look like increasingly erratic opinion polls in Britain where European parliament voting appears heavily compartmentalised when compared to general polling. In the north UKIP will barely register among the panoply of unionist micro-parties. UKIP, and Farage, have been singularly unsuccessful in shaking off the perception of a strong racist undertone to the party. So, it would be surprising if Labour and the Tories didn’t seek to expose the relationship with loyalist paramilitaries as further evidence of the ideological focus of UKIP. Surprising, unless you take into account both the apparent apathy in Britain towards the European election (which will likely be expressed in a low turnout) and the reality that the northern political scene simply doesn’t resonate in Britain. If it did, presumably, the spin doctors of other parties would be all over this story. While UKIP discomfits the Tories in publicly flaunting values the Tories are often accused of holding in private, Labour (at least) would appear to have traction in damaging both parties through pushing this as a story.
It would be interesting to see Farage and UKIP’s relationship with the UDA examined in greater depth under the public spotlight. But chances are, it won’t happen.