What is still left of the motley assemblage of saloon bar propper-uppers otherwise known as UKIP is repairing at the end of this week to the English Riviera, for the party’s annual Conference, to be held in Torquay, famous for Fawlty Towers, and as an occasional hidey-hole for crims on the run. This year’s gathering is unique for two reasons: the potential implosion of the party, and the invitation to the German far-right.
Much attention will be focused on the election of a new leader to succeed the brief comedy turn provided by “Bad Bootle Meff” Paul Nuttall, with the possibility that this will be won by virulent Muslim-hater Anne Marie Waters, an event which would shatter the party and, with any luck, cause it to cease to exist in any coherent form. But there is also the prospect of the invitation to Alternative für Deutschland turning up a real unreconstructed Nazi.
There are two leading contenders for the UKIP gig, one of whom is a nailed-on fascist, while the other is merely an hereditary one. So who are the names in the frame? Most likely to appear, if only returning the favour paid by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage when he went to speak at an AfD victory rally in Spandau, where Hitler’s long-time deputy Rudolf Hess ended his days, is MEP Beatrix von Storch.
Her maternal grandfather was Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk, who served as finance minister under Hitler, and was the last chief of Government of the Third Reich. Ms von Storch sits with the Kippers in the European Parliament, and they all tell what a nice person she is. But this is to ignore her views on subjects like refugees.
As EUObserver has noted, “MEP Beatrix von Storch, AfD vice-chairwoman since mid-January, was asked her via her public Facebook page if border police should use armed force to prevent women with children crossing the border illegally. She replied: ‘Yes’”. She then realised this might not be a good look: “After heavy criticism, she tried to nuance her comment, saying on Monday (1 February) that the use of firearms against children was ‘rightly, not allowed’”. But it was, apparently, OK to gun down adults.
This awakened grim memories of the action often taken by border guards in the former East Berlin and East Germany, where those deciding they had a better chance of a decent life in the West were summarily executed, or merely shot and left to bleed to death in no-man’s land, as a routine punishment. And then there is Alexander Gauland.
Gauland has said of Bayern Munich footballer Jérôme Boateng “people like him as a footballer, but they don't want to have a Boateng as a neighbour”, and more recently “If the French are rightly proud of their emperor and the Britons of Nelson and Churchill, we have the right to be proud of the achievements of the German soldiers in two world wars”. He is, it is constantly stressed, merely “concerned” about developments in Germany.
So who will turn up at the UKIP bash? Will it be hereditary Nazi Beatrix von Storch, or genuine fascist Alexander Gauland? Whatever happens, the sinking credibility of the Kippers is not going to be rescued as a result. What a total and absolute shower.