PM Theresa May and UKIP threaten our democracy (radio interview)

Voice of Islam found a blog I wrote in 2014 about Nigel Farage: foe not friend and invited me to do a live radio interview. I believe that Mr Farage has appealed to prejudice and xenophobia and is responsible, with David Cameron, for Brexit. Mr Cameron couldn’t get his own house in order and Mr Farage said: “Take back control of our borders” which means retreat from the multiculturalism that makes Britain great and become Little England. It means less regulation, US monopolies dominating our markets, the British government having no legal defence i.e. TTIP, trading with nations regardless of their human rights record and less environmental protection.

I would far rather befriend Angela Merkel than Donald Trump. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Theresa May does not agree.

If you don’t have time to listen to the full interview, here are a few extracts of what I said:

First about Nigel Farage

The media in some way is complicit in painting a rosy picture of Nigel Farage as a self-made man prepared to stand up for Britain. He is provocative but smooth which makes for good television.

Part of the appeal of Mr Farage and Donald Trump is that they speak their mind and do not spin their message to what they think electors want to hear. However, they divide, exploit and can stir up prejudice and resentment, against immigrants, for example (cue the poster.) Mr Farage used to work buying and selling commodities in the city. He pretends to be “everyman,” which is disingenuous, and he likes a pint. He may like a pint but he is not everyman.

There is a lie at the heart of Farage’s politics, he says he is sticking up for ordinary people against the establishment. Would he do so if he really was living on the breadline? Very little attention is paid to the fact he is a wealthy self-made man pitching for popularity.

Political parties need to attack Mr Farage on his policies. (Mr Trump spared no punches when debating with Hillary Clinton in the US election.) For a long time, UKIP has been regarded as an eccentric side-kick. After the European elections in 2014, they were taken more seriously by the media but their policies have not been debated with the rigour of the other parties. UKIP’s appeal is insidious, appealing to the heart not the head. It should be tested by the heart, with cool logic and a forensic eye. One Parliamentary Candidate who failed 7 times to become an MP, should not get so much media attention.

At the moment, the EU are investigating whether UKIP misspent £400,000 of taxpayers in the EU to fund its electioneering in addition to the Conservative accounting fraud. The European Parliament has separately reported that funding meant for EU business was being diverted into funding UKIP in the UK and the UK referendum campaign. The Independent ran this article yesterday. Mr Farage said in their defence: “Every single eurosceptic party and group is wilfully being victimised by a system that really reminds me of the Soviet inquisitors.” I reported UKIP expenses under investigation in my 2014 blog. Their expenditure should be transparent and without the EU, we wouldn’t even know.

About Nigel Farage and Donald Trump

“And now he stands next to the president-elect of the United States, a man who got the job apparently because he wasn’t part of the establishment, because he wasn’t a politician, because he promised to break the system rather than play it.”

(Rebecca Nicholson, Guardian, 13.11.16)

This goes to the heart of my mistrust of Nigel Farage. Like Donald Trump his appeal is that he presents as anti-establishment. Mr Farage does not have a road map or he would have been elected by now, he has failed 7 times to become a Westminster MP but has hinted he may stand again… or he may be better received in America. It is interesting that Mr Farage stood down as leader after the EU referendum victory and it has become clear that the “Brexiteers” have no plan. They all jumped ship leaving Theresa May, a “remainer,” to take up the poisoned chalice of negotiating withdrawal from the EU. Shame on them, they would rather bully her than lead.

Number of living wage employers in Brighton reaches 350

Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce and the Living Wage Campaign are celebrating signing up 350 local businesses and organisations to pay employees a living wage.

At the moment, the Living Wage is £8.45 everywhere except London. The new rate will be announced on Monday (6 November.)

Five years ago Brighton Chamber started the Brighton and Hove Living Wage Campaign to encourage local businesses to pay employees the living wage which is slightly higher than the minimum wage.

The campaign aims to make the living wage the norm in the city, with social enterprises, charities and public sector organisations joining the campaign as well as businesses.

Apprentices and interns are exempt. The rate is calculated annually by the Centre for Research in Policy funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to be the amount you need to have a decent life.

The mandatory minimum wage, now called the National Living Wage, is set by the government. This is currently £7.50 for people aged over 25. It is paid at a slightly lower rate for young people.

In October 2011 Councillor Bill Randall headed up a Brighton and Hove Living Wage Commission.

Brighton Chamber then agreed to lead the campaign, initially for two years in April 2012. It is still going strong.

Sarah Springford, director of Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are delighted to have reached 350 employers who have all signed up to the Brighton and Hove Living Wage Campaign. It shows what a unique business community we have here.”

This week the campaign has signed up the digital start-up SomeoneWho.

SomeoneWho co-founder Andrew Saffron said that he joined “simply because it’s the right thing to do”. He said: “You have to treat people as you would wish to be treated. That’s all there is to it.”

SomeoneWho staff (Photograph taken by Simon Dack)

Asked about morale and employee well-being, he said it was important to recognise that we’re all human beings.

He said: “We have good days. We have bad days. The best we can do as employers is to create an environment in which your team can have as many good days as possible and to show understanding and support them when they’re having a bad day.”

Juliet Tzabar, chief executive of the digital agency Plug-in Media, will be speaking at Brighton Chamber’s pop-up breakfast next Thursday (9 November) about her work and why she has chosen to be a living wage employer.

Her experience ranges from directing television dramas to producing interactive content. Under her leadership, the company has won four BAFTAs.

Tickets for the breakfast are already sold out but it should be possible to follow proceedings on Facebook and Twitter and support the campaign.

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.