Richard North, 09/01/2015  
 

000a Guardian-009 Algiers.jpg

The date of the Guardian piece (illustrated above) is rather significant – it was published in 2012. The theme is rather familiar, a litany of woes of the French-Algerian community of 4 million, and the way they are so very badly treated by the French, "second-class citizens" being a rather optimistic description.

Franco-Algerian history, of course, goes way back, but includes a savage war of independence, where state-sanctioned torture and reprisals were widely used by the French military, in an inglorious episode in its history.

Given then there current way that those of Algerian descent are treated, and by comparison with, say, the number of mass shootings you get in the United States, one could venture a cautious option that it is remarkable that there have not been more such episodes such as the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

In the context, therefore, the very last thing one might be comfortable saying that is that "uncontrolled immigration" was in any way a contributory factor in the shooting, that it was a function of "multi-culturalism" or that there was any aspect of the shooting which could be attributable to a "fifth column living within our own countries … out to destroy our whole civilisation and our way of life".

On a purely factual level, therefore, Farage is wrong in his comments, and even if he had a point to make, his timing was execrable. Offering a political analysis not a full day after the shooting was poor judgement, and especially as the full facts are very far from being known.

Political rivals, therefore, are quite right to condemn Farage. Once again he has shown poor judgement and a lamentably superficial understanding of complex issues.

What is terrifying, though, is the comments on the likes of the Breitbart site – and even – it would appear – the bulk of the Daily Mail comments, which appear to support the Ukip leader.

We know full well that newspaper web comments do not reflect majority public opinion (or we would probably have a Ukip government in power), but they do demonstrate that there is a very large number of people who cannot think straight, and allow themselves to support Farage's ill-founded comments.

In the fullness of time, there will be lessons to learn from this shooting, and it is going to take careful thought and evaluation to come up with the right lessons. But political leaders who are prone to jump to the wrong conclusions, on the basis of flawed analysis, and incomplete information, are not to be trusted.

By that measure, Farage, once again, has shown that he is entirely unfit to lead a political party. But some of his followers and supporters are also showing that they are not people whose judgement can be trusted either. They may deserve Farage – but we don't.






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