In a typical Gotcha, the Mail On Sunday (MoS) has today taken a few (admittedly stupid) off the cuff remarks by a UKIP MEP and declared that this is now party policy. “UKIP Tells Its Youth Wing – Copy Hitler” screams the headline. Caught on video by someone not totally on message, “Bill Etheridge described the Nazi dictator as a ‘magnetic and forceful public speaker’ who ‘achieved a great deal’”.
There was more: “This new disclosure will dismay the Ukip leader as he battles to de-toxify the party’s image following a string of rows over extremism. Mr Etheridge, who recently wrote a book celebrating golliwogs, made his astonishing remarks last weekend while training young Ukip members planning to stand in council or parliamentary elections”. Etheridge had also been expelled by the Tories.
It certainly didn’t look good for the MEP, who was caught telling “Look back to the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history. When Hitler gave speeches, and many of the famous ones were at rallies, at the start he walks, back and forth, looked at people – there was a silence, he waited minutes just looking out at people, fixing them with his gaze”.
Could it get yet worse? You betcha, says Sarah: “At one point he also name-checked the wartime Italian dictator Benito Mussolini”. Oh dear! And, to top it all, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was “not available for comment yesterday”. This certainly looks bad for UKIP, and they have significant previous in this department, but then, so does the Rothermere press – and they own the MoS.
And the Rothermeres have no room to call out anyone else for being inadvisably close to the spirit of the Third Reich: in September 1933, Lord Rothermere wrote “In the last days of the pre-Hitler regime there were 20 times as many Jewish government officials in Germany as had existed before the war. Israelites of international attachments were insinuating themselves into key positions in the German administrative machine”.
He continued “Three German ministries only had direct relations with the Press, but in each case the official responsible for conveying news and interpreting policy to the public was a Jew ... it is from such abuses that Hitler has freed Germany”. The good Lord also had something to say about Mussolini.
“Mussolini succeeded to supreme authority in Italy at the age of 39. His collaborators are even younger. Together they have made their country the best governed State in Europe”. And a paper owned by the current Lord Rothermere now calls out UKIP for rather less. Yes, Farage has endorsed some particularly unsavoury people, not least Vladimir Putin. But he never championed Nazism, unlike the Mail.
The Rothermere press, latest inhabitants of that very draughty glasshouse.