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SQtv: UKIP clash with protesters in Brighton

Posted on Wednesday, 5 June by

When the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and their controversial leader Nigel Farage announced an intention to visit liberal hotbed Brighton & Hove, it wouldn’t have taken a professor of politics to predict that the best of British seaside hospitality wouldn’t be on offer for the eurosceptic party.

Following an outstanding showing at the County Council Elections last month, UKIP are the party that everyone is talking about. Nigel Farage’s clan upped their stakes in Sussex by going from two councillors to 17, while on a national scale, they accumulated more than 25% of the popular vote giving Cameron & Co something to think about ahead of the vote in 2015.

With Farage representing the South East as a Member of European Parliament, it made sense for them to turn to Brighton as they bid to step up proceedings once again.

As expected, anti-fascist demonstrators lined up outside Hove Town Hall Monday evening in order to make a stand against UKIP’s alleged racist, fascist and homophobic practices. Over 50 demonstrators waved placards and European flags as audience members entered the building, with audible chants of ‘Shame on you!’ directed at those who had turned up to witness Farage speak, whether they be UKIP campaigners or curious members of the public.

Due to safety fears, Farage was made to enter and leave the centre through an alternative entrance so he was never a target for demonstrators outside the town hall. However, a group of over a dozen ‘covert’ protestors took residence in the audience for the UKIP leader’s talk and began to jeer and chant over Mr. Farage’s speech. While some ill-advised UKIP followers did their best to physically quieten activists, security eventually stepped in to forcefully remove those who caused disturbance.

After the first wave of demonstrators were literally thrown out of the meeting kicking and screaming, a handful of smaller protest pockets began to chant one by one. A clearly unimpressed UKIP leader attempted to challenge those who he called the “new face of the Labour party” to an open debate, but they were far too busy avoiding broken limbs at the hands of enthusiastic town hall security staff. It’s standard fare for Farage, who was barricaded by Scottish demonstrators on a recent visit to Edinburgh.

At around 15 minutes in to his 25 minute speech, Farage was able to talk at will about UKIP policies and the pitfalls of today’s government, concentrating rather predictably on the perception his party following top Tories referring to him and his friends as “swivel-eyed loons”. After talking up Australia’s immigration policy and the benefits non-EU membership can bring to the British economy, Farage took questions from the audience.

UKIP in Brighton Tweet

Responding to an audience member asking about comparisons between UKIP and the BNP, Farage said: “The BNP are anti-European. In UKIP we want Britain to divorce the EU but be good neighbours with good trade relations. The BNP are protectionist. We want to open up trade not just with the EU but also our friends in the 54 countries of the Commonwealth. We welcome all people from all races and all faiths.”

Speaking unchallenged for over an hour, Farage dominated and his infectious charisma resonated with silver-haired swathes of the audience who have been failed by mainstream governments. If under pressure from rival candidates and in front of a neutral audience, Farage may not fair quite as well.

Television debates with UKIP in 2015, anyone?

Video by Arif Ali & Lewis Scrafton.

Words by Corey Pellatt.

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SQ Team
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