Nigel Farage and dog-whistle racism? What? Photo: Getty
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The dog-whistle racism in Nigel Farage's Independent column is OK because he likes cricket

"Rotherham is worse than a calypso".

This mole, although attempting all week to eject that frankly petrifying lyric, "We can trade with the world again/When Nigel is at Number 10" from its head, has spotted Part 97 of the Ukip calypso story in today's Independent.

In today's paper, Nigel Farage has a column, under the title "Another Voice" (as if he hadn't already made this nation petrified of anything he considers "the other") in which he mocks critics of the Ukip calypso, a song written, merrily sung, defended, than apologetically withdrawn, by Radio 1 DJ Mike Read.

Expressing his disbelief that people feel offended by the song's nasty lyrics and mock-Carribean accent, he wrote:

If you were to play the Ukip Calypso song to me now and say, "Mr Farage. . . knowing what you now know, would you still endorse the track?" I'd say yes. Because it brought a lot of people a smile, and it was released with the best of intentions.

I wonder if, given hindsight, the same people who took the decisions which led to the calamity in Rotherham could say the same thing.

To suggest that people can't be concerned with TWO THINGS at the same time is ridiculous and lazy, but the worst part is that he could have chosen any harrowing news event, perhaps more recent and topical, but opted for Rotherham.

This is dog-whistle politics at its most crass; he chose to bring up a tragic story, which his party shamelessly exploited during its Heywood and Middleton by-election campaign by blaming Labour's "reluctance" to address immigration for child abuse perpetrated by those of predominantly Asian origin.

Pretty low.

The bigger question is why would the Independent run such a piece? It's not just an online rant either; it appears in the paper copy. Here it is:


The editor, Amol Rajan, defended his decision to give Farage a column back in 2013. It’s about “diversity of opinion”, he said. And also that it’s fine because the Ukip leader enjoys cricket:

Mr Farage . . . is a cricket nut, and the more of them in our pages the better, frankly.

I'm a mole, innit.

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.