WATCH: Nigel Farage doesn't realise how terrible his own party's policies are

Uniforms for taxi drivers? Old-fashioned colours on trains? Just some of the crap UKIP included in its manifesto for the 2010 election, as revealed to Nigel Farage on the Daily Politics.

The job of making UKIP appear less like the fringe party enjoying its day in the sun that it is, and more of a serious political contender, continues to be a tricky one for Nigel Farage. As befitting a party whose key demographic is older than any other (71 percent older than 50, only 15 percent younger than 40), its website is clunky, badly-formatted, difficult to navigate, and full of out-of-date information - or, at least, that's Farage's excuse for some of the barmier policies featured on there, which include a dress code for taxi drivers and a demand that the old-style liveries from the days of National Rail be reinstated on regional train lines.

This morning's Daily Politics, with Farage as guest, tried to pin down exactly what it was that UKIP believes in. "You don't need me to tell you that Nigel Farage is UKIP’s man," said Andrew Neil. "He wants out of the EU and he’s not particularly fond of immigration - but what does UKIP stand for?"

One of the few areas where UKIP has a clear stance is defence policy, opposing cuts to the armed forces. But, UKIP also wants to cut Trident, Neil points out. "No, I'm not sure where you've got that from," a confused Farage replies. 

"Your website," Neil responds. (The video above begins from this exchange.) "It says, 'we've committed to cancelling the Trident defence'."

"That is not the case. Not the case, no. It was the case.”

"Are you going to take it off the website then?"

“When it comes to websites I’m not the expert.”

That much was obvious when the UKIP leader was asked about the party's demand for a compulsory uniform for taxi drivers ("Do we? That's news to me"). “Under the last leadership, at the 2010 election, we managed to produce a manifesto that was 486 pages long. You can quote me all sorts of bits from it I won’t know, which is why I’ve said none of it stands today and we will launch it all after the European elections.”

The thing is, Farage isn't wrong -  UKIP's website, and the party's 2010 manifesto, is filled with bizarre stuff like this. These are also the only policy positions that voters have to go on, as Farage might not like to admit. Here's a non-exhaustive list of examples:

  • "The earnings of employed people are not a legitimate target for taxation."
  • "We are unconvinced of many of the arguments behind the man-made ‘global warming’ scare."
  • "Britain and Britishness are in trouble. They are being attacked and undermined, both externally and internally. They are threatened by the European Union (EU) and corporatist Americanised pressures from without, and betrayed by misguided politically correct ideology, extremist Islam and errant nationalism from within ... The UK Independence Party wishes to remain a close friend of the United States, and deplores the rampant anti-Americanism of Continental Europe as racism."
  • "Welsh, Scottish and Irish nationalists constantly speak of their desire to be 'independent' of England. UKIP sees this as bogus independence."
  • "Regarding the Islamicisation of Britain, UKIP would ban the covering of the face in public buildings and certain private buildings."
  • "UKIP would safeguard British weights and measures (the pint, the mile etc.), which have been undermined by the EU."
  • "UKIP would support the Monarchy by replacing the media frenzy around state support by transferring sufficient amounts of Crown Estate assets back to the Crown to provide suitable income." 
  • "UKIP will encourage British designers to create a reinvigorated "British style." 
  • "UKIP would formally strike out the unhelpful verse starting with 'rebellious Scots to crush' from the national anthem. UKIP would require the UK theme medley to be restored to BBC Radio 4."
  • "The phenomena of political correctness itself has its origins in the Frankfurt School of Marxism of the 1930s."
  • "The UK Independence Party believes that a wise investment would be a 'British Ambassadorial Ship'." 
  • "UKIP will give tax relief for real ales." 
  • "The BBC and the British Film Council will have their remits altered to back films that promote British values and British talent and locations. They will not be allowed to back films that denigrate, attack or oppose British values. For example, the Film Council would not back a pro-IRA, anti-British film in ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ by the Marxist Ken Loach or projects like ‘This is England’, which glorifies hooliganism."
  • "The low point for the BBC came when a former Director-General admitted the BBC was “hideously white” - a remark that is simply racist."
  • "We would welcome a return to traditional British headdress and uniforms for the police and armed forces. UKIP would also welcome the replacement of US-style baseball caps from all public services, particularly the police and armed forces, with traditional British headdress. UKIP will encourage a return to proper dress for major hotels, restaurants and theatres."
  • "British passports will return to their proper larger size and design."
  • "UKIP notes that in the 2007/8 football season, two British teams reached the European Champions League final, yet not a single British Home Nation qualified for the European Championships that same summer ... UKIP blames the EU for this ... UKIP would place a maximum of three foreign players in the starting line up."
  • "UKIP will encourage higher standards of behaviour in society, including greater politeness, courtesy, manners, not swearing in public."
  • "The patchy and biased teaching of history in schools, often very anti-British, is a major problem for a cohesive society. The issue of slavery in particular would also reflect the greater levels of trade by Arab slave traders (including the seizing of English citizens for slaves from the South West), the role of African tribes in the trade and Wilberforce‘s world leading abolition campaign. The Slavery issue has been deliberately used to undermine Britishness."

...and those are all from just the first page.

And finally, Buzzfeed today posted a quiz challenging people to guess which policies are UKIP's and which are the Monster Raving Loony Party's. It's (unsurprisingly) tricky.

I'm a mole, innit.

Photo: Getty
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A rape-able sex robot makes the world more dangerous for women, not less

Eroticising a lack of consent is no answer to male sexual violence. 

On Wednesday, the Independent reported a new setting had been added to the personality range of a sex robot made by the company True Companion. Called “Frigid Farrah”, the setting allows men who own the robot to simulate rape. If you touch it in a “private area” when it is in this mode, the website explains, it will “not be appreciative of your advance”.

True Companion says the robot is not programmed to participate in a rape scenario, and the idea is “pure conjecture”. Nevertheless, the news has reopened the debate about sex robots and their relationship to consent. What does a rape-able robot say about our attitudes to consent, sex, violence and humanism? Do sex robots like Frigid Farrah eroticise and normalise male sexual aggression? Or does allowing men to “act out” these “most private sexual dreams” on inanimate objects actually make real women safer?

The idea that allowing men to “rape” robots could reduce rates of sexual violence is fundamentally flawed. Sex robot settings that eroticise a woman’s lack of consent, coupled with male aggression, risk normalising rape. It sends a message to the user that it is sexually fulfilling to violate a woman’s “No”.

It’s important to remember that rape is not a product of sexual desire. Rape is about power and domination – about violating a woman’s body and her sense of self. Raping a robot is of course preferable to raping a woman, but the fact is we need to challenge the attitudes and sense of entitlement that cause violent men to rape in the first place.

There is little evidence to back the claim that giving men sexual “outlets” reduces violence. The research that exists is focused on whether a legalised sex industry can reduce sexual assault.

Studies on Dutch “tippelzones” – spaces where soliciting is legal between certain hours – claimed the areas led to a reduction in sexual violence. However, the research lacked precise data on incidents of sexual violence and abuse, and the fact that sex workers themselves can be victims. As a result, it wasn’t possible to determine exactly how the number of rapes and assaults fell in the population at large.

Similar claims made by social scientist Catherine Hakim also failed to prove a causal link between legalised prostitution and reduced levels of sexual violence – again, because low reporting means a lack of accurate data.

Other research claims that access to the sex industry can in fact increase incidents of sexual violence. A 2013 report by Garner and Elvines for Rape Crisis South London argued that an analysis of existing research found “an overall significant positive association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women in non-experimental studies”.

Meanwhile, a 2000 paper by Neil Malamuth, T Addison, and J Koss suggested that, when individuals considered at high risk of acting sexually aggressively are studied, levels of aggression are four times higher among frequent consumers of pornography.

However, just as the research fails to find a causal link between access to the sex industry and reducing violence, there is no research proving a causal link between violent pornography and gender-based violence.

Instead, we have to look at the ethical and moral principles in an industry that creates models of women for men to orgasm into. Sex robots are, at their heart, anti-humanist. They replace women with plastic and holes. They create a world for their owners where women’s voices and demands and desires and pleasures – and right to say no – are absent.

That should trouble us – we are creating products for men which send a message that the best woman is a compliant and silent one. That the best woman is one who lies back and “likes what you like, dislikes what you dislike”, to quote the True Companion website, who is “always ready to talk and play” but whose voice you can turn off whenever you want.

“By transferring one of the great evils of humanity from the real to the artificial, sex robots simply feed the demon of sexism,” says Professor Alan Winfield of the Bristol Robotics Lab. “Some might say, 'What’s the problem – a sex robot is just metal and plastic – where’s the harm?' But a 'fembot' is a sexualised representation of a woman or girl, which not only invites abusive treatment but demands it. A robot cannot give consent – thus only deepening the already chronic and dangerous objectification of real women and girls.”

What research does tell us is that there is a clear link between violence and the perpetrator’s ability to dehumanise their victims. That, and a setting designed to eroticise a woman’s lack of consent, suggest that Frigid Farrah will have no impact on reducing sexual assault. Rather, it creates a space where rape and violence is normalised and accepted.

Instead of shrugging our shoulders at this sexualisation of male violence, we should be taking action to end the belief that men are entitled to women’s bodies. That starts by saying that rape is not an inevitable part of our society, and the danger of rape cannot simply be neutralised by a robot.

Sian Norris is a writer. She blogs at sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com and is the Founder & Director of the Bristol Women's Literature Festival. She was previously writer-in-residence at Spike Island.