Farage and the HIV lie

I’m still reeling from the audacity of Nigel Farage in telling outright lies to camera – and the stupidity of his many followers who believe anything he says.

On Facebook today I challenged one of them to produce the evidence for his astonishing claim, made before a 7 million TV audience, that 60% of HIV patients were foreigners coming here for health tourism. As both Leanne and Nicola said (not their exact words), even if true these patients would still be human beings in need of help.

But as usual, Farage was ‘economical with the truth’ and his Facebook followers have not come back with any evidence. In reality, as shown by this study (click on the word “study” highlighted in red), the actual figures are way way different.

There are several other articles and studies researching the same issues and coming to the same conclusions. I’ve put this into my election blog (1) because I know how to and (2) because this enables me to insert the message on to any Facebook discussion where his acolytes are prattling his nonsense. I plan to do so whenever I see something similar.

Selective islamophobia

Hardly a day goes by without a press story about Moslems somewhere or other doing something bad or evil – usually poor Moslems in Britain or foreign Moslems unable to respond. The drip-drip effect of these stories over several years has created and exacerbated irrational prejudice – “Islamophobia”.

But these press stories are selective. There is only rare mention of government-sanctioned monthly beheadings in Saudi Arabia or its vile discrimination against women. Rich and powerful Moslems who buy British arms exports and consort with our Royalty are never the target of these press stories. With good reason – because the rich and powerful will hit back and even governments fear their anger.

Just now, Sweden is being targeted by the Saudi government for speaking out against these practices. It is noteworthy that these actions against Sweden get barely a mention in the British media – or comment from UKIP and others.

For all its flirtation with islamophobia, UKIP has yet to condemn British arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the equally abhorrent regimes in Qatar, Bahrein and the UAE – who use these weapons to suppress democracy at home and, with US/UK approval, launch attacks on other Moslems in Yemen.

Yemen Irony alert: 7 monarchies & 1 military regime are bombing Yemen to restore democracy!

UKIP’s islamophobia is selective – targeted at the gullible for electoral gain. If UKIP (or anyone else) is concerned about the actions of a few people in the name of religion, it could start by condemning Saudi Arabia for its actions against women and minority religions.

Europe – in or out?

This is not a simple question. For many on the political left, the EU is simply a rich man’s club – there to bolster the dominant position of banks and finance capital and to put pressure on member states that attempt to expand the state sector or resist EU-imposed austerity measures – as the people of Greece are finding to their cost. If Britain were to elect a left-wing government, the EU would not be helpful.

On the other hand, many on the political right (notably UKIP and right-wing Tories) view the EU as an interfering creation of the liberal left, imposing human rights and environmental legislation to prevent big business doing  whatever it pleases to do to maximise its profits.

Both viewpoints contain more than a grain of truth and it is hard to decide whether the overall impact of the EU on our lives is for better or worse.  Living as we do in Wales, we are net beneficiaries of EU funds designed to assist poorer regions – if we lived in London and the South East (UKIP-land) we might well be net losers.

I know that candidates for an election are supposed to have a ready answer for every question but, on this one, I admit to being a “Don’t know yet”. If there is to be a referendum based on xenophobic prejudice, it’s likely I would vote to stay in. If there is not to be an in/out referendum, we need to make the most of the many good aspects of the EU and do whatever is possible to minimise its bad aspects.

Immigration isn’t a problem

Britain would be in a very bad way without immigrants. For a start, the NHS would be in big trouble and several surgeries in Torfaen might have to close. Throughout the UK, many low-paid menial tasks rely on immigrant workers and their net contribution to the British economy is very positive.

‘Freedom of movement’ is a two-way process. If – as UKIP speakers often seem to hope – all immigrants were to leave, the corollary would be that the 3 million British citizens abroad would have to return. These returnees would use the NHS but not contribute as much to the economy. So the overall impact would be bad.

If the real argument is about a drain on our economy, you need look no further than tax exiles – the people who take money out of Britain. Their unpaid taxes could balance the Treasury deficit and eliminate all excuses for spending cuts.

Some tax exiles own newspapers that day after day run anti-immigrant scare stories. The real cheats are the £multi-million tax dodgers who peddle stories about immigrants to divert attention away from the real robbers and cheats. Vodaphone pic