Oh goody! The gloves are finally off and Nigel Farage has named the beast that haunts his dreams. It is none other than us, Romanians.
I find it is always satisfying, when you’ve known for many years that those around you harbour that little bit of resentment against your people, to have it out in the open. So, with his party leading in the polls, Mr Farage finally feels confident enough to air his views without trying to appear politically correct. Satisfyingly, even The Sun is calling him a racist, but the problem as I see it is not with Farage personally.
Let’s face it, he would never have been able to say what he said in that famous interview were it not for the fact that:
1. Many in the UK have their own, either dormant or alive and kicking, prejudices against the Romanian people (such that old favourite – ‘Romanians are related to vampires’)
2. Quite a few UK dwellers are confused (just as Mr Farage seems to be) about Roma/Romanians/criminals – which bit of the racist Zeitgeist is he picking up on? Does he even know?
3. The large majority stood by and did not very much when the first rumblings of anti-Romanianism started raising their ugly head back in January.
4. I wager almost all those living in Western Europe harbour some latent anti-communist feelings and thoroughly disliked anything that comes from the East and smells of revolution.
As it happens, unlike Mr Farage, I have the luxury of feeling pretty relaxed at this very moment, for a number of reasons:
1. I am fully engaged in progressive politics in the UK, and I spend my time actively raising my voice and against prejudice of any form, whether it comes at gay people, Jews, Eastern Europeans or Romanians. This makes me feel rather safe, knowing that I have allies in all these groups.
2. I am backed by my fellow Green Party members who even as I was writing this blog, were tweeting up a storm of support for Romanians. There’s nothing as sweet as being engaged in a common struggle.
3. I personally know a huge number of both Romanians and Roma people (many of them having lived not next door but in my tiny London flat), and I can guarantee that they are a benign and friendly lot.
4. I trust the UK public to see through racism, as it has on many occasions. Hey even The Sun and the Daily Telegraph are on my side on this occasion.
Still, I would feel even happier if those people who think politics is nothing to do with them woke up and smelled the coffee (served in cafés up and down the land by my compatriots), and realised that when UKIP takes aim at them, they may not be as lucky as I am. We all need a bunch of fierce and open minded activists around to defend us when the chips are down. It’s high time we all got off our backsides and built such a gang.