Nigel Farage. Photo: Getty
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We can't just give Nigel Farage the silent treatment

Nigel Farage's attacks on the vulnerable - the unemployed, immigrants, and in this case, people with AIDS and HIV musn't go unchallenged.

Perhaps understandably, George Osborne said that he would not dignify Farage’s commitment to be “tough on Aids victims” with a response. Granted, Osborne is not a confrontational figure – he’s hardly the Noel Gallagher of Westminster - and, anyway, plenty of other politicians took the opportunity to tell the sweat-drenched UKIP leader that he should be ashamed of himself, so what’s the problem?

The issue is that by not engaging in debate with Farage when he says ugly things, we fail to spot when he attempts to deliberately deceive us. In last week’s debate, Farage distorted the figures. Let’s look at exactly what the Ukip leader said about the people he terms “health tourists”:

There are 7,000 diagnoses in this country every year for people who are HIV positive.

But 60% of them are not British nationals, you can come into Britain from anywhere in the world and get diagnosed with HIV and get the retro viral drugs that cost up to £25,000 per year per patient."

Here Farage paints a picture of legions of dastardly HIV-positive foreigners logging onto to EasyJet and booking budget flights to Stansted, before holding out their greedy hands for 25K worth of the British taxpayers’ cash and probably stuffing their faces with our cod and chips, too.

The reality is much diffrent. According to the most recent figures available online, of the 62,540 who received HIV treatment in the UK in 2010, only 250 of them were short term residents. Of those only 180 actually received antiretroviral therapy. To put things in perspective then, only 0.28% of those who got the drugs Farage is so keen to keep for himself had lived in the UK for less than two years. The rest were UK nationals or people who had lived here for many years.

How Farage can call any of these people ‘tourists’ is beyond reproachable, but even financially, Farage’s tough on AIDs policy does not make sense. First consider the cost of testing every person on the border for every single disease that Farage deems a deal breaker, then perhaps treating a couple of hundred short term UK residents will not seem so bad.

Unfortunately, Farage’s unprecedented popularity means that we all need to dignify him with a response, especially when he bullies and scapegoats the least fortunate in our society.

Screengrab from Telegraph video
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The Telegraph’s bizarre list of 100 reasons to be happy about Brexit

“Old-fashioned light bulbs”, “crooked cucumbers”, and “new vocabulary”.

As the economy teeters on the verge of oblivion, and the Prime Minister grapples with steering the UK around a black hole of political turmoil, the Telegraph is making the best of a bad situation.

The paper has posted a video labelled “100 reasons to embrace Brexit”. Obviously the precise number is “zero”, but that didn’t stop it filling the blanks with some rather bizarre reasons, floating before the viewer to an inevitable Jerusalem soundtrack:

Cheap tennis balls

At last. Tennis balls are no longer reserved for the gilded eurocrat elite.

Keep paper licences

I can’t trust it unless I can get it wet so it disintegrates, or I can throw it in the bin by mistake, or lose it when I’m clearing out my filing cabinet. It’s only authentic that way.

New hangover cures

What?

Stronger vacuums

An end to the miserable years of desperately trying to hoover up dust by inhaling close to the carpet.

Old-fashioned light bulbs

I like my electricals filled with mercury and coated in lead paint, ideally.

No more EU elections

Because the democratic aspect of the European Union was something we never obsessed over in the run-up to the referendum.

End working time directive

At last, I don’t even have to go to the trouble of opting out of over-working! I will automatically be exploited!

Drop green targets

Most people don’t have time to worry about the future of our planet. Some don’t even know where their next tennis ball will come from.

No more wind farms

Renewable energy sources, infrastructure and investment – what a bore.

Blue passports

I like my personal identification how I like my rinse.

UK passport lane

Oh good, an unadulterated queue of British tourists. Just mind the vomit, beer spillage and flakes of sunburnt skin while you wait.

No fridge red tape

Free the fridge!

Pounds and ounces

Units of measurement are definitely top of voters’ priorities. Way above the economy, health service, and even a smidgen higher than equality of tennis ball access.

Straight bananas

Wait, what kind of bananas do Brexiteers want? Didn’t they want to protect bendy ones? Either way, this is as persistent a myth as the slapstick banana skin trope.

Crooked cucumbers

I don’t understand.

Small kiwi fruits

Fair enough. They were getting a bit above their station, weren’t they.

No EU flags in UK

They are a disgusting colour and design. An eyesore everywhere you look…in the uh zero places that fly them here.

Kent champagne

To celebrate Ukip cleaning up the east coast, right?

No olive oil bans

Finally, we can put our reliable, Mediterranean weather and multiple olive groves to proper use.

No clinical trials red tape

What is there to regulate?

No Turkey EU worries

True, we don’t have to worry. Because there is NO WAY AND NEVER WAS.

No kettle restrictions

Free the kettle! All kitchen appliances’ lives matter!

Less EU X-factor

What is this?

Ditto with BGT

I really don’t get this.

New vocabulary

Mainly racist slurs, right?

Keep our UN seat

Until that in/out UN referendum, of course.

No EU human rights laws

Yeah, got a bit fed up with my human rights tbh.

Herbal remedy boost

At last, a chance to be treated with medicine that doesn’t work.

Others will follow [picture of dominos]

Hooray! The economic collapse of countries surrounding us upon whose trade and labour we rely, one by one!

Better English team

Ah, because we can replace them with more qualified players under an Australian-style points-based system, you mean?

High-powered hairdryers

An end to the miserable years of desperately trying to dry my hair by yawning on it.

She would’ve wanted it [picture of Margaret Thatcher]

Well, I’m convinced.

I'm a mole, innit.