The past week or so has seen a load of controversy over UKIP and Vegfest. What has a right wing anti-immigration party got to do with a vegan festival, you might ask? Well the organiser Tim Barford has had the crazy of idea of trying to the link the event to the impending election by holding hustings there. Labour, the Lib Dems, the Tories, the Green Party and UKIP were all invited.
On the event’s website, under the headline UKIP joins 4 other main UK Political parties at VegfestUK Brighton, Barford gleefully announced that: “Nigel Carter of Brighton and Hove UKIP is joining the conference to debate his party’s stance on Health and the Environment, VegfestUK now have a complete pack of cards with political heavyweights including Kerry McCarthy, Caroline Lucas, Henry Smith and others making their appearances at the conference.”
He had no inkling of the storm that would ensue and it soon all over social media. Truth be told, Barford is no stranger to this. His festival brand (Vegfest first popped up in Brighton years ago but they’ve spread throughout the UK) has been attacked for years by some who think he’s watering down the ethics of veganism. For instance he allows stallholders such as the RSPB who cull birds and there have even been rumours that all his events are not 100% vegan.
UKIP are especially despised because one of its policies is the repeal of the Hunting Act and Nigel Farage has gone on record as saying he’s like to bring back hunting with hounds (not that it’s really gone away but that’s another story). Despite this, however, they are not strangers to the world of animal welfare. A few months ago they were invited to speak at a live exports rally in Kent, where they naturally felt at home being xenophobic about cruelty to animals abroad. A number of protesters launched a tirade against their representative, however, who scuttled away feeling most unwelcome.
Back to Vegfest and two of three days after the announcement came a grovelling apology:
“It has become clear to us as organisers that we would be unable to create a safe space for our visitors, especially families, but also those who have suffered at the hands of racism and other minority discrimination. There has been an unprecedented level of complaints about UKIP being represented at Vegfest, and out of respect for the views of the vast majority of our visitors, and with security in mind, we have withdrawn the invitation to the UKIP member to attend.”
At least Barford recognised his mistake and rectified it but what a dreadful mistake to make in the first place. And why stop there? The difference between Farage’s lot and the three main parties is one of of degree, not kind, and they’re all heading rightwards anyway in UKIP’s slipstream. Ban the lot of them I say.
Unfortunately that won’t be happening but hopefully those who attend Vegfest’s “party political conference” will see through the lies of the politicians there and decide none of the parties deserve their vote.