Richard North, 06/08/2015  

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There are three parallel memes which seem to have taken root in certain sections of the eurosceptic "community" in relation to the conduct of the "no" campaign.

The first is that, irrespective of what anyone might say or do on "our" side, we should all be working together in the interest of the cause. That then kicks in the second meme which has it that we should not criticise each other openly. We should try to sort our differences in private, behind the scenes.

Bringing in the third meme is the premise that the correct response to criticism is not to engage with it, or respond in any way other than to attack the critics and remind them of the other two memes. Never does it occur that one way of stopping criticism is to stop inviting the criticism in the first place.

As just one example of what we are dealing with, we have the determination of Ukip - with the clear encouragement of its leader, Nigel Farage - to harness the migrant crisis as a tool to promote leaving the EU. In so doing, he has unleashed the singularly nasty, BNP-esq elements of the party, who are allowed free-rein to express the most vile propaganda imaginable.

The effect of this can now be seen in the Ukip "house magazine", Breitbart, which at the time of writing this post was running the headline: "Flash: up to 700 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean".

This was an early report of an incident yesterday when an overloaded fishing boat en route to Italy from Libya was seen to capsize in rough seas. But what is horrifying about the report in Breitbart are the readers' comments which are often monopolised by Ukip supporters. The volume and degree of vitriol is something I never dreamed we would ever see on an English language site.

Many of the responders hide behind the anonymity of screen names, but there is no disguising their sentiments. Thus, a reader who uses the name "rhcrest" writes: "Oh gee, a bunch of dead muslims. I feel so bad. NOT!". The same person also writes:
No we are DONE trying to fix their effing crapholes! I couldn't care less about these vermin. These boats should be met by each country's navy and told to immediately turn around or they will be fired upon. End of story. The boats will stop coming. They can go back to their third world crapholes and all kill each other for all I care. These people will never change. They are just third worlders and that is it
He is matched, in terms of sentiment, by "kiwi41" who offers a comment quite typical of this thread, adding: "Every little helps! May there be thousands more".

This was one of the newer treads. We also see "AndrewInterrupted" tells us, "I would like to believe a submarine from the western world torpedoed it" and, working back, we see "CA" declare: "Let them drown or sink the ships. Only when coming to the west is seen as an unattractively proposition will this flood of the Islamic and third world end". Then we have "WhatWouldJeffersonDo?" wanting to edit the headline, "up to 700 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean", removing the word "feared" and replacing it with "hoped".

Another contributor, "So_WHAT", offers: "Poor fish, they hate halal food" and "ghostlife", demonstrating a lack of originality that runs through the thread, mirrors "WhatWouldJeffersonDo?" with a cryptic "feared".

"Tropical Pom" does the "maths", with an elaborate post telling us: "At 35 GBP per week 'Spending' money and, say, 60 GBP per night accommodation with approx. 30 GBP per day food then over a year we have just saved ourselves 24,206,000 GBP so on a cost benefit analysis of the situation in the full knowledge that those figures are the tip of the iceberg we should just blow the boats out the water and the humanitarians amongst us can toss a wreath in if you like". 

"Stosh" thinks this is"Mother Nature protecting civilization... ", while Jeffrey Coley – one of the few to use what might be a real name, decides to present us with a little "joke". "What's the difference between a disaster and a tragedy?", this comedy genius asks, telling us: "A disaster is when a boat carrying 700 illegal immigrants to Europe sinks and all aboard are drowned. A tragedy is when the boat was only half full".

This gives "another_engineer" the opportunity to add: "Or made it ashore", while Jeffrey Coley, who turns out to be a generous contributor, gives us, "There were 1000 on the boat, it's feared only 700 drowned", adding: "This is also known as a 'good start'".

"Haywoodjbl", with no originality at all, posts: "A good start", "aurora9" decides to share with us: "That's 700 muslims less that we have to feed!" and "gerton shref" instructs us to: "Ceeeelebrate good times, c'mon! Let's celebrate!"

From "Kentucky Rifle", we get: "2000 dead illegal invaders is not near enough. Calling them 'migrants' is offensive", "Sailsalot" presents us with the observation that this means "700 fewer welfare cases" and "DannyT" ups the ante has it that this is, "'a net saving' , factor in the multiple wives & sprogs if they'd made it to Treasure Island = 3000 less mouths to feed, it's a start!"

The "it's a start" gem also occurs to "Redlinetrain", who tells us that: "700 is a good start. What we need now are some Nazi U Boats brought back into service. They would solve this problem in days". "Danny123" wants to, "Send in the navy to travel the departure coastlines and RPG any boat bigger than a dingy!"

"Eddie" runs the "feared" meme by us, with a relatively long contribution, telling us: "Feared? Really, feared to have drown? Ask the average European what they think of that. Ask them what they think of 700 more invaders that they would have to support that won't be there to destroy their villages and towns. These people do not come to Europe to contribute and conform, they come to conquer".

We have "ephraingadsby" writing: "Oh dear. (dabs eyes)", evoking a response from "Canon Fodder (Wisecracker)", telling us: "I'm greetin so hard the snotters are running down", preceded by "slamdance13" asking, "why do i wanna laugh...".

And an earlier from "So_WHAT" asks, "What is to fear? ", adding: "a few less breeders for allah, I am happy. Every wh(o)re of mohamed in Europe is pregnant from the age of 7 till 100 they breed".

None of these identify themselves as Ukip supporters, but they don't have to - and that's not the issue. This is the type of rhetoric we see spread all over the internet and social media, readily attached to the Ukip label. It is exactly the sort of thing "kippers" are writing all the time, often associated with the party logo.

What has happened here is that Farage has let the genie out of the lamp. Racism and Islamophobia - one the excuse for the other – is rampant and it threatens to unhinge the whole "no" campaign. Whether it is directly from Ukip or not, this sort of commentary will be associated with it unless the party goes out of its way, actively, to disown it - which it has not done.

Yet, when we point this out, the "magic memes" cut in. We are told we should bite our tongues and  work with these people. We must not criticise them. And if we do, on no account will they respond to it, by changing anything they say and do.

Neither are these "magic memes" confined to just this sub-set of humanity. The eurosceptic "community" is driven by those who feel they should be immune from criticism as of right, yet free to act in any way they think fit. To them, the idea of message discipline is a totally alien concept and they are at perfect liberty to undermine the efforts of co-campaigners. Their answer to criticism is to silence the critics.

Until all these players get their acts to together, and decide which is more important – their egos and ambitions or the campaign – we are going to find it very hard to make serious progress. While I remain confident that we can beat the enemy, I cannot say the same for our "allies". Protected by their "magic memes", they will destroy any chance we ever had of winning.

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