Mainstream parties have been defeated by the monster they created

Nigel Farage’s smug grin is all over the media this morning. But the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have been defeated by a monster of their own creation.

They have failed to speak up for the benefits of migration, they have not provided decent housing, they have bailed out banks and punished the poor, they have pandered to the super-rich. It’s no surprise that people look for an alternative.

Unfortunately, the alternative is provided by Nigel Farage’s ragtag army of racists, sexists, homophobes and climate change deniers. Farage, a privately educated former stockbroker, presents himself as anti-establishment. UKIP’s policies include a tax system that would harm the poor and those in the middle while slashing taxes for the rich. UKIP politicians also advocate a big increase in military spending at the same time as greater cuts to the welfare state.

Most of these policies are barely mentioned in the media, which concentrates on UKIP’s views on migration and the European Union. The BBC must bear some responsibility for UKIP’s success. Fascinated with Farage, keen on sensational change, they have given the party vastly disproportionate attention.

Not that this is any excuse for voting for UKIP. I won’t patronise UKIP voters by suggesting they don’t know what they’re doing. Let’s not forget, however, that around two-thirds of UK voters did not even vote in this election. UKIP have received the support of about one in ten of the adult population. Even the majority of those who did vote supported parties that favour EU membership.

The Tories have already shown their willingness to cave into UKIP’s agenda, attacking migrants and the EU at the same time as they demonise the poor to justify their austerity agenda. Labour have a chance to speak up for migration and point out the real problems of spiralling poverty and inequality. Sadly, Labour politicians are already mentioning the need to talk more about immigration – a euphemism for being more anti-immigration and blaming migrants for problems they have not caused.

Thankfully, there is more to politics than choosing between four parties that marginalise the working and middle classes in the interests of the rich. There are alternative ways of voting – such as Green, Plaid Cymru and others.

More importantly, we can aim for a better world in our own lives and communities – by refusing to scapegoat migrants, Muslims or benefit claimants; by staging grassroots campaigns against austerity, prejudice and war; by supporting each other in resisting poor working conditions and dodgy landlords; by choosing kindness over consumerism. We can defy this rotten system not just on polling day, but every day.

Challenging the arms trade on the edge of Farnborough

This evening, I’ll be speaking about the arms trade on the edge of Farnborough – the home town of the multinational arms company BAE Systems.

The talk will be at 8.00pm in the Chapel in Ash Vale, which is on the edge of Farnborough (just over the country border in Surrey). Many thanks to St Mary’s Church, Ash Vale for organising the event.

Lots of the local people work in the arms industry. This is not surprising; many people have little choice but to take what jobs are available.

I’ll be engaging in discussion with people who disagree with me. I’ll also be challenging the arms industry’s claims about providing jobs. For years, BAE and others have talked about the jobs they offer, only to move thousands of jobs out of Britain when it suits them to do so. Rather than rely on the whims of arms dealers, we need an economy that provides meaningful, long-lasting and socially useful jobs so that the skills of those currently working for BAE can be put to better use.

The talk is also an opportunity to challenge the Farnborough Air Show. This biennial event combines a trade fair (for both the arms industry and the civil aviation industry) with a much more fluffy public air show. This year it will take place from 14th-20th July.

The event this evening is open to the public. More details can be found here. I’m looking forward to it.

White Feather Diaries – remembering the people who resisted world war one

Yesterday saw the formal launch of the White Feather Diaires, a social media project exploring the lives of British pacifists during the first world war. The project’s run by Quakers in Britain, who hired me as a writer and an editor for the project. I’m really pleased to be working on this project. Yesterday we announced the names of the five individuals whose writings will form the basis of the project, when it goes online in the summer.

The White Feather Diaries, using blogging methods and Twitter, will serialise the real writings of these five very different people, beginning on 4th August, the centenary of the UK’s entry to the war.  The writings include diaries, letters and memoirs, the majority of which have never previously been published.

As the Guardian reported yesterday, the five people to feature will be Howard Marten, a 30-year-old clerk from London; John “Ted” Hoare, an 18-year-old student from Derbyshire; Hilda Clark, a 33-year-old doctor from Somerset; Laurence Cadbury, a 25-year old engineer from Birmingham; and John “Bert” Brocklesby, a 27-year-old teacher from Conisborough in Yorkshire. There will of course be references to several others too.

Between now and August, you can follow news about the project on Facebook.

The public launch of the project was held yesterday because it was International Conscientious Objectors’ Day, when people around the world remember all those who have asserted and are maintaining the right to refuse to kill. The Day received far more attention than usual because of the centenary of the outbreak of world war one.

We remember the past because it affects the present and the future. Hundreds of conscientious objectors are still in prison around the world. Members of the British armed forces who have a change of heart are not provided with meaningful opportunities to register a conscientious objection. As recently as 2010, Michael Lyons, a member of the Royal Navy, was sent to a military prison for refusing to pick up a rifle, after his views on war changed.

In the UK, our taxes go to fund one of the world’s highest military budgets and a constant stream of messages tell us to admire “our” troops and to believe that violence is the ultimate response to conflict. Our bodies are no longer conscripted, but our minds and money are conscripted instead.

So let’s learn from those who showed the way a hundred years ago and had the courage to say no. We will remember them.

Gates is wrong: We need more cuts to military spending

My radio alarm clock woke me this morning with the news that the USA’s former defence secretary, Robert Gates, has criticised the cuts that are being made to military spending in the UK.

If a minister, let alone a former minister, from within the European Union had criticised cuts to social security, the right-wing media would be shaking with simulated outrage about “Europe” interfering in British politics.

However, those on the right who object to “Europe” are often happy for the UK to slavishly follow the US, particularly on foreign policy and military issues. Gates said the cuts could weaken US-UK ties. Such ties are based on the UK government following where the US government leads. They are a wilful abrogation of the British people’s freedom to determine their own policies.

There are people who back welfare cuts on the grounds of cutting the deficit but who take a different view when it comes to military spending (or “defence spending” as it’s euphemistically called). Many right-wing commentators cheer as the government snatches the livelihoods from thousands of disabled people, massively increases homelessness and prices working class people out of higher education, but they insist that it is essential that the UK maintains one of the highest military budgets in the world, despite containing less than one percent of the world’s population.

The rarely-mentioned reality is that the UK’s “defence” cuts are much smaller than most other cuts that the coalition government is making. If ministers were serious about cutting the deficit, they might start with the £100bn that will be spent renewing the Trident nuclear weapons systems, which can work only by killing millions of innocent people.

After planned cuts to military spending, the UK government will still have a massive military out of all proportion to the country’s size or to its other expenditure. A country’s influence no longer rests on the size of its army but Robert Gates, Liam Fox and even David Cameron seem to be living in the nineteenth century.

Very little of the “defence” budget is spent on anything that meaningfully defends the people living within the UK. People being thrown on the streets as a a result of the bedroom tax are unlikely to feel well defended. The reality is that the British people are under attack by British ministers and by the rich and powerful whose interests they promote. We need to defend ourselves from our own government.

New war, old story

There are people who could be very confused by the UK government’s support for human rights in Syria.

People in Bahrain have been banned from protesting by a government that has killed countless numbers of peaceful demonstrators. Far from supporting the protesters’ peaceful struggle, UK ministers are continuing to sell arms to the Bahraini regime that is killing them.

People in West Papua have for years faced violence and oppression at the hands of the Indonesian authorities that occupy them. Indonesian troops have bombed West Papua with British-made aeroplanes.

People in the West Bank continue to suffer the restrictions and humiliation of Israeli occupation. Israeli troops use aircraft and other equipment sold by UK-based companies with the approval of the UK government.

People in Saudi Arabia, who face imprisonment, torture and death to quietly assert their rights, know that their government has for years been making arms deals with the UK government, which looks the other way whenever the topic of the country’s human rights record is raised.

And, perhaps most shockingly, people in Syria will wonder why companies that supply Assad’s vicious regime look set to be allowed to exhibit their products at the London arms fair next month.

The arms fair, euphemistically called Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi), will almost certainly include representatives of all the regimes mentioned above. They are invited by the UK government. DSEi happens every two years, subsidised with taxpayers’ money.

David Cameron and his colleagues may be genuinely horrified by what is happening in Syria. Most of us are more inconsistent than we like to think. I don’t claim to be any less hypocritical than David Cameron. However, we cannot be expected to swallow the government’s a humanitarian argument for war in Syria two weeks before some of the world’s nastiest dictatorships are invited to send representatives to London to meet arms dealers.

The march to war is eerily familiar. The government are talking about human rights. The opposition are frightened of disagreeing. The media are contrasting war with “doing nothing” as if these were the only two options, and using the term “intervention” to mean “military intervention” as if they were always the same.

Whatever people in Syria need, they do not need yet more weapons and soldiers in their country. They do not need more war, more lies, more feeble excuses. They do not need to be the victims of profiteering or the pawns in other people’s strategic plans.

Arms dealers will benefit if UK and US troops go to war in Syria. Few others are likely to do so.

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The London arms fair takes place from 10-13 September, with the main protest on Sunday 8 September. Click for more information.

“Bongo Bongo Land” controversy: Cut arms, not aid

Last year, I visited the Judean desert and met with people who used a water pipe
funded by UK aid money. Before the pipe was fitted, the villagers often had to go ten days without a bath. Now they can bathe every three days. They are also better able to water their vegetables and feed their livestock. The aid money has thus made them more independent, not less.

Despite this, the money is not solving their core problems. These once nomadic people are now largely static, prevented from moving about the desert by the Israeli armed forces, who use the area for training exercises. They live on the eastern side of Palestine, near the Jordanian border.

The UK government had helped them by funding a water pipe, but is failing to help them by speaking out firmly against the behaviour of Israel’s government and army, which might do more to change the underlying situation. British ministers are happy to keep selling weapons to Israel.

I’ve been thinking about this complexity today, following the scandal surrounding UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom, who referred to countries that receive UK aid as “Bongo Bongo Land”.

Yesterday, he was said to have “apologised”. Looking at the wording of his statement, I think the word “apology” is stretching it a bit:

“I understand from UKIP party chairman Steve Crowther and leader Nigel Farage that I must not use the terminology in the future, nor will I and sincerely regret any genuine offence which might have been caused or embarrassment to my colleagues.”

So not an apology but a “regret”. And no acceptance that his term is racist, but only a recognition that his party leaders have told him not to use it.

When initially challenged over his “Bongo Bongo Land” comments, Bloom said “It’s sad how anybody can be offended by a reference to a country that doesn’t exist.”

But of course, the countries that receive UK aid do exist and it these countries that Bloom has named “Bongo Bongo Land”. Also, as Zoe Williams points out in an excellent article today, the term has long been used as a derogatory reference to former British colonies.

I am tempted to get sidetracked and focus on Bloom’s other bigoted views (not long after his election, he said that “no self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age”). He is a reminder that UKIP is the latest face of the British far-right. But instead, I would rather challenge his views on UK aid.

His opinions on aid are shared by a number of Tory MPs and newspapers. The front page of today’s Daily Mail trails an article by Stephen Glover declaring that Bloom “spoke for Britain on foreign aid”.

The government’s policy is that aid should amount to 0.7% of public spending. That’s 0.7%. Just to be clear, that’s less than a penny in every pound. That’s seven pence out of a tenner. It is not a large proportion.

There are many things that can be said in defence of aid spending – that we live in an interconnected world, that we have a responsibility to each other, that many of the countries receiving UK aid are still suffering from the effects of the transatlantic slave trade and other injustices handed out by the rulers of the British Empire.

All of these are true. But although I am a strong supporter of aid spending, and of the 0.7% commitment, I don’t want to respond to Bloom’s comments by making an uncritical defence of the government’s aid plans.

For one thing, certain ministers are happy to look for ways of observing the letter but not the spirit of this commitment. The government has written off unjust debt and then counted this as aid money – even when the debt in question stood no chance of being repaid. David Cameron has even suggested that part of the aid budget could go towards military spending while still being counted as aid.

For aid to be really effective, it needs to work alongside other, more basic measures that will have a longer-lasting effect. Debt jubilees, new structures for international trade and a new financial system will have much more effect than aid alone.

As I saw in the Judean desert last year, aid spending can be helpful while also being undermined by the UK government’s other activities. For all David Cameron’s talk, aid spending is still vastly smaller than military spending. UKIP not only want to cut aid spending, they want to increase military spending (or “defence spending” as it’s euphemistically called) by a wapping 40%.

If we really want to cut the deficit at the same time as building a more just world, it’s arms we need to cut, not aid.

When silence is evil: praying and protesting against the arms fair

At the beginning of September, some of the world’s most oppressive regimes will be sending representatives to London. They will be there to meet arms dealers, ready to profit from war and oppression.

Their meetings will not be illegal. They will be actively encouraged by the Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary and the Mayor of London.

The London arms fair, which runs from 10th-13th September, marks a key date in the calendar of arms-dealing corporations such as BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. It regularly welcomes oppressive and aggressive regimes such as Saudia Arabia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Israel and Bahrain.

Christians from across the UK and beyond will join with people of many religions and none to take nonviolent action against the arms fair. An important date is 8th September, the Sunday before the fair, which will be Stop the Arms Trade Day of Prayer.

The London arms fair is one of the largest in the world. It is subsidised by taxpayers’ money and the regimes that turn up are invited by the UK government. But it is euphemistically entitled Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi). This is misleading. The arms trade is not about defence and security.

David Cameron and his allies like to promote the arms industry by arguing that democratic countries have a right to defend themselves. But there are no arms companies that sell weapons only to democracies to use for self-defence.

Arms trade apologists also speak of the number of British jobs that arms exports supposedly provide. This argument was also central to supporters of the slave trade over 200 years ago. Not only are the figures generally exaggerated, but arms companies have themselves been rapidly moving jobs out of the UK in recent years. Engineering skills could be put to better use through government investment in socially useful projects such as renewable energy.

The sins of war and economic injustice are brought together in a trade that ensures that war is profitable for a few. Every UK minister who signs off on an arms deal to a dictator is weakening anything the government might say in defence of human rights. Every pound spent on bombs and bullets is a pound less for vaccines and school books. The arms trade kills before a gun has been fired or an aeroplane left the ground. And it thrives on the lie that violence is the answer to conflict.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” Let’s speak up, pray and protest in the week beginning on Sunday 8th September.

We will pray – at church, at home, in the street, outside the arms fair. We will protest – in our communities, in universities, at the headquarters of local arms firms and of course at the arms fair. We will speak out – to our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues, our politicians, the media and the arms dealers.

Prayer and action cannot be separated. Let’s pray that we will speak out sincerely, in love and not in hate, acknowledging our own collusion with injustice, celebrating what’s already been achieved and seeking transformation for ourselves, others and society. May God guide us to take effective and radical action so that we are – as Jesus put it – “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”.

The prayers and actions will continue throughout the week of DSEi and beyond.

There are many people resisting DSEi. Most of the groups involved, including the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), have a firm commitment to active nonviolence.

Of course, we are all different. We can speak out in different ways. Not everyone can, or should, travel to the arms fair to pray and protest in person. Below are a few suggested actions. Your choice may depend on your time, personality or other considerations. Please feel free to suggest others.

* Ask your church if they will mark the Day of Prayer. They can include the arms fair and the protests in their prayers of intercession – or go further and have a special service or themed sermon. CAAT’s Christian Network have produced some suggested resources.

* Pray for all those involved in the arms fair and all those resisting it.

* Tell at least one friend or colleague about the arms fair and why you’re against it. You can find out more about DSEi here.

* Find out whether there will be any actions in your local area at the time of the arms fair. If not, how about organising one?

* Write to your local paper, national paper or Christian publication about the arms fair. You can find out more about DSEi here.

* Write to your MP, MEP, MSP or AM, challenging him/her to oppose the arms fair in public.

* Come along to DSEi. There will be a massive protest on Sunday 8th September, two days before the arms fair begins. A strong Christian presence, in solidarity with people of other religions and none, will be great.

* Join in the multifaith vigil at the arms fair on the evening of Monday 9th September.

* Read more at the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the Stop the Arms Fair coalition or Christianity Uncut.

The power of love, the power of justice, the power of the crucified God is a subtler, stranger but ultimately stronger power than the power of money, markets and military might. As the apostle Paul said, God’s power is made perfect in weakness.

Focused on that power, let’s pray and protest against the arms fair. The arms industry, like all sinful structures, will one day be defeated. This is an important step along the way.

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The above article formed my latest column on the website of the Ekklesia thinktank.

Not the G8 – digital activism in Leeds

I am on a train that’s just pulled out of Leeds, following a great day at ‘Not the G8’, a conference run by the World Development Movement (WDM).

I was there because WDM invited me to speak at a session on digital activism. But I’m really glad they did, because the whole event was very good and I learnt a lot.

The day included a really helpful talk about food sovereignty by the writer Raj Patel. I have realised recently that WDM are very good at drawing the links between different issues – poverty, the environment, banking. In particular, they make clear that environmentalism is not simply a lifestyle choice for the middle class in the West but is an urgent concern for anyone who wants to tackle poverty.

I was asked to give a talk based partly on my new book, Digital Revolutions: Activism in the internet age. As usual, I Iearnt at least as much from the participants as they did from me.

At these sort of events, I fear that the attenders will expect me to be some sort of technological whizzkid, with answers to all sorts of questions about computer use. Anyone who’s watched me struggle to get my DVD player working will know that I am not that person. My book is not a book about technology; it’s a book about activism. It looks at the ways in which the internet has been used for activism in recent years.

I am not a net utopian – technology won’t save the world. Nor am I someone who dismisses the usefulness of the internet. Digital activism is an important part of many campaigns. It can also draw people into other forms of resistance. But digital activism is almost never sufficient on its own. When talking today, I focussed on examples of campaigns that have effectively combined online and offline activism. Examples include:

  • Tax justice campaigners who petitioned Olympic sponsors online to give up their tax exemptions at the Olympic Park. Several companies quickly agreed, probably because they feared physical occupations – which had greeted many tax-dodging stores the previous year.
  • Boycott Workfare, who have persuaded dozens of companies and charities in the UK to withdraw from workfare schemes. Some withdrew after physical protests and economic pressure. Others withdrew when bombarded with tweets and faced with humiliation online.
  • Disabled activists in York, who found a provision that required the City Council to debate any petition with over 1,000 signatures from York residents. Their petition and the council debate meant that cuts to local disability services became the lead news item on BBC Radio York – making many more people aware of them.
  • Lovers of peace in Israel and Iran, who set up “Israel Loves Iran” and “Iran Loves Israel”, two Facebook pages that built understanding across the divide and allowed Israeli and Iranian citizens to tell both their governments that they were “not ready to die in your war”.
  • Minority language activists as far apart as Wales, east Africa, Australia and south Asia, who use web-based resources to promote linguistic diversity and the rights of their communities.
  • The paradox of the Occupy movement, which combined the modern image of web-based communication with the old-fashioned image of debates in public squares. Both of them, at their best, are far more inclusive than mainstream political processes.

I was delighted that so many people got stuck into discussion about these issues. As my book has not long been published, this was on the second time that I’ve given a talk based around it. I will be doing so again at the Greenbelt festival in August. However, I’m very open to speaking with other groups. If you’re interested you’re welcome to email me at symonhill@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you!

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My book, Digital Revolutions: Activism in the internet age, can be bought from the publisher, New Internationalist, by clicking here. It costs £9.99 (0r $16.95 in the US). 

The Christian lobby group and the far-right party

I blogged earlier this week about statements from the homophobic lobby group Christian Concern ahead of the local elections. They encouraged people to vote for candidates opposed to same-sex marriage. Most of these candidates are likely to be UKIP or on the right wing of the Conservative Party. They are therefore likely to be very right-wing on economics. Until now, Christian Concern have largely avoided taking a stance on economic issues.

Today, Christian Concern sent out their weekly email bulletin, which includes a message from the group’s director, Andrea Williams, about the local elections. She writes in a celebratory tone. This is not, of course, because Labour have taken so many seats from Tories, but because UKIP have done so.

She writes:

“The local election results are showing massive losses for the Conservative party. This was by no means inevitable but David Cameron’s insistence on pursuing the same sex ‘marriage’ agenda has undoubtedly contributed to this dramatic result.

His determination to dilute marriage has alienated not only Conservative supporters but voters at large. UKIP is notably the only party that supports marriage and their success in these elections is in large part due to that.”

Contrary to the above statement, there are in fact several other parties that oppose same-sex marriage (BNP, English Democrats, Christian People’s Alliance, etc), but Christian Concern seem happy to ignore them today.

Should we take this as indicating that Christian Concern is happy to support – or at least overlook – UKIP’s other policies? They include cutting taxes for the rich, raising taxes for the poor and people in the middle, increasing military spending, renewing Trident, going further than the Tories with cuts to public services, increasing workfare, banning all immigration for five years, withdrawing from the UN Convention on Refugees, scrapping human rights law and teaching children a pro-imperial view of history.

Do Christian Concern think that these are appropriate policies for Christians to support? I think they should tell us.

Same-sex marriage and the local elections: Who thinks they’re connected?

The “Christian Right” in Britain – inasmuch as it exists – is not like the Christian Right in the US. Over there, conservatism on issues such as marriage and abortion seems to go hand in hand with right-wing views on economics and foreign policy. Over here, we have conservative Christian lobby groups with a far more narrow focus. Organisations such as the Christian Institute, Christian Concern/Christian Legal Centre and so-called Anglican Mainstream focus largely on attacking LGBT rights. They also speak out against abortion, Islam and the supposed marginalisation of Christians in Britain.

But unlike their US counterparts, these groups rarely comment explicitly on economics or international relations. True, the tiny Christian Party adopts a right-wing stance on virtually every issue, cheering on Trident and tax cuts for the rich. In contrast, the (slightly older) Christian People’s Alliance is just as hostile to LGBT rights and Islam, but has a suprisingly good record of campaigning against the arms trade and talks quite a bit about poverty.

Shortly before the 2010 general election, Christian Concern appeared to endorse the candidacy of George Hargreaves, the Christian Party’s leader, in an email bulletin to supporters. The bulletin clearly provoked some negative reactions, as the group almost immediately issued another email insisting that they do not endorse one party or another.

This makes an email that they have sent out today particularly interesting. When giving advice to Christians about voting in tomorrow’s local elections, there is only one issue they mention: same-sex marriage.

Subscribers to their mailing list received an “action alert” today that declared:

Please take the time to find out which of your candidates supports marriage as between one man and one woman before you go to place your vote.”

You might think that the afternoon before polling day is a bit late to be finding out such things. You might also wonder what local elections have to do with marriage law. The email declares:

Local authorities hold a lot [of] power which they could use to penalise people or organisations who believe in authentic marriage, so it’s important that local councillors are pro real marriage.”

There is then a link to a leaflet produced by the “Coalition for Marriage” about the links between local government and marriage law. It consists largely of unsubstantiated statements. For example:

Schools could be forced to promote the new definition of marriage in the classroom. The rights of parents could be ignored, and teachers who believe in traditional marriage could be pushed out of their careers… Churches that refuse to hold same-sex weddings may be denied grants or refused permission to hire halls from councils in the future.”

No evidence is provided to back up these claims (I hope that schools will encourage children to consider all sides of the argument on ethical, political and religious issues – as they are already expected to).

The only party that the email mentions by name is the Conservatives. Christian Concern quote a Daily Telegraph poll that shows:

…that the plan to redefine marriage makes far more people ‘less likely’ to vote Conservative than ‘more likely’ to do so.”

Speaking personally, there is nothing that would make me “less likely” to vote Conservative, as there has never been any chance of my voting Conservative at all.

Will Christian Concern’s supporters vote primarily (or even solely) on the basis of which candidate or candidates oppose same-sex marriage? This could have alarming results. Of course, there are a few Labour, Lib Dem and SNP candidates who oppose marriage equality, but most anti-equality candidates are likely to be Tory, Independent or from far-right parties such as the UK Independence Party.

This is particularly relevant at a time when UKIP is under such scrutiny. Last week, their candidate Anna Marie Crampton was thrown out of the party for anti-Semitic comments on Facebook. When the story broke, one of the first to call for Crampton’s expulsion was Sam Westrop, director of the interfaith group Stand for Peace. He said, ““UKIP, to its credit, has expelled extremist and bigoted members in the past.” It is able to have done so only because it has had so many of them to expel.

Three years ago, I analysed UKIP’s policies and discovered remarkable overlaps with the BNP. UKIP are not only anti-European, anti-migrant and anti-Muslim. They also deny the reality of climate change, support an increase in military spending and want a flat rate of income tax (so milllionaires pay the same as cleaners and nurses). UKIP believe that the Tory cuts are not going far enough. Nigel Farage has described David Cameron, the man currently presiding over the destruction of the welfare state, as “a social democrat”.

And of course, UKIP is also strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. Winston McKenzie, UKIP’s candidate in the Croydon North by-election, made this one of the main points of his campaign, targeting religious voters with the untrue claim that the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem parties want to force churches and mosques to host same-sex weddings.

Mackenzie also described adoption by same-sex couples as “child abuse”. The party’s spokespeople disagreed with him, but they didn’t expel him. Instead, it was the head of UKIP’s youth wing who was forced out of his job for supporting same-sex marriage.

Is this the party that Christians are being urged to support tomorrow? Are Christian Concern simply naïve about the likely economic policies of most candidates opposed to same-sex marriage, or are they actively in favour of them?