• Update: Geoffrey Clark has been suspended as a candidate by Ukip, who have rejected his “repugnant” views.
The other day I wrote something about Ukip. At the end of the piece, I stuck in a line calling them a “little pack of madmen”. People were apparently offended, and it drew attention away from the broadly positive things I was saying, so I apologised in a later footnote.
I think I’d like to withdraw that apology now.
Geoffrey Clark, a Ukip candidate for the council elections in Gravesham, Kent, has published a frankly bizarre “personal manifesto” in which he considers “compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Downs, Spina Bifida or similar syndrome” (to be clear, he doesn’t “endorse any of these ideas”: they are merely “suggestions of matters for the review body to properly consider”, so that’s OK then). That’s right: he suggests as a policy forcing women to have abortions, one act which will surely and uniquely unite both the woman’s-autonomy-over-her-body pro-choicers and the life-begins-at-conception pro-lifers. What’s particularly remarkable is that he suggests this as a means of bringing down the deficit, as though Britain’s finances are being bled dry by an army of Down’s syndrome children. Understandably appalled, the learning disability charity Mencap has condemned him instantly. (Hat-tip The New Statesman and the North Kent News.)
He also suggests “updating” the Koran, the Torah and the King James Bible, calls for the ejection of Israel (and Iran) from the UN, claims that the Green Party are in favour of gay marriage “because many of them live in Brighton”, and calls for not one but two protest marches (one to Parliament, protesting against gay marriage, one to the head offices of a company called Moat Housing to protest about building on the green belt). Oh, and he says “Nigel Farage, Chris Adams, Ray Finch and Sanya Thandi will tell you what a decent fellow I am”, which is reassuring. (Sanya Thandi and Chris Adams have got in touch to say they in no way endorsed him, by the way.)
Best of all, he writes a poem about “defending British culture from attack”, entitled “We must turn back the tide, and then advance”:
… Do you see?
It’s so much like the end of Rome
With all the Roman legions returning home
Permitting Britannia to burn, decay, alone.
But other foreign legions are returning,
Bringing a kind of cancer in their wake;
Cancer not of Britain’s doing, but one that Britons make…
…(continues at length)…
By Geoffrey Clark, aged 66¾
Most of this, like the fact that he writes terrible epic poems in the manner of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings parodying Coleridge, is just entertaining silliness. But the fact that he thinks we should seriously consider forcing women to have abortions is not: it is frightening and strange. And he really does seem to be a Ukip candidate for political office. One imagines he’ll be asked to step down in the next few days. But if his views are in any way indicative of the wider Ukip movement, then “a little pack of madmen” is about right, to be honest.