The victim-blaming of Nigel Farage

Apparently, physical attacks on politicians are fine if the target is a populist outsider.

Fraser Myers

Fraser Myers
Deputy editor

Topics Politics UK

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Imagine if Keir Starmer or Ed Davey were pelted with objects as they were out and about campaigning in the General Election. Social media, the newspapers and the broadcasters would be crammed with condemnations of this violent threat to our democracy. But now that Nigel Farage has narrowly missed becoming the victim of a violent attack, the response has been noticeably muted. Worse still, some in the political class have even made excuses for the attempted assault.

Yesterday, the Reform UK leader was on an open-top battle bus driving through Barnsley in South Yorkshire when he was pelted with objects from below. A video shows a man on the street throwing a cup at Farage, then reaching into a bucket on a construction site, grabbing its contents and throwing those at him (the unidentified objects appear to be bits of cement and / or stones). Thankfully, Farage did not appear to be struck by any of the projectiles. A suspect was quickly arrested by police and he was charged with threatening behaviour earlier today.

Some of Farage and Reform’s opponents, including the candidates for other parties in Barnsley, have rightly issued statements condemning the attack. Yet others have come dangerously close to justifying it.

In an extraordinary segment on BBC Two’s Newsnight last night, Marvin Rees, former Labour mayor of Bristol, essentially made excuses for the attacker. After some throat-clearing about how throwing rocks or cement is ‘not an acceptable and not an intelligent form of protest’, he launched into a tirade against the Reform UK leader:

‘What I can’t pretend, though, is that he hasn’t fed into a culture of hatred and anger and othering that ends up manifesting… in this kind of aggressive type of politics.’

Rees wasn’t challenged at all on his view by Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark. When it was his turn to speak again, he doubled down:

‘When we talk about the culture and the frame created by some national leaders, Farage is one of those people who have shaped it… in a way that does not help our ability to create a space in which people live together.’

Essentially, Rees holds Farage responsible for the violent attacks against him – because of the views he holds and the way in which he expresses them. This is victim-blaming, pure and simple. It is excusing an attack on a politician because of the political outlook of the target. This selective outrage over political violence ought to chill us all.

Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on X: @FraserMyers.

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Topics Politics UK


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