Ukip leader Farage would like to see racial equality laws scrapped

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Farage being interviewed by Trevor Phillips in the Channel 4 documentary

Ukip’s party leader Nigel Farage has caused outrage – yet again – with a recent string of comments in which he revealed that, if voted to power, his party would axe much of the existing legislation which tackles racial discrimination in the workplace.

Speaking on Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True, a Channel 4 documentary which will be aired next Thursday, Mr Farage said: “I would argue that the law does need changing, and that if an employer wishes to choose, or you can use the word 'discriminate' if you want to, but wishes to choose to employ a British-born person, they should be allowed to do so." Mr Farage also said that his party would get rid of “much of” the existing anti-discrimination legislation if voted into power.

Speaking to Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Farage argues that there is no longer a need for anti-discrimination in laws in Britain today. Farage told Phillips, “If we’d sat here 40 years ago, having this conversation, your point [on the need for laws preventing racial discrimination in the jobs market] would probably have been valid. I don’t think it is today.”

Mr Farage’s assertion that there is no longer a need for workplace anti-discrimination laws today in the UK is strongly rebutted by the figures –from the House of Commons Library – published yesterday which revealed that since 2010 there has been a 49% increase in the number of ethnic minority 16-24 year-olds who are out of work, putting the total current figure a staggering 41,000. The research also showed that this rise in BME youth unemployment has occurred at the same time as white youth unemployment has decreased by 2%.

The Ukip leader says that, actually, he was fighting for the unemployed British youth "both black and white," putting the rise in black youth unemployment down to increased immigration, particularly from eastern European countries such as Poland – a highly controversial, and what seems unfounded, argument. Mr Farage added: "I have made comments in favour of British people getting jobs over and above those from southern eastern Europe."

Responding to Mr Farage’s comments, which were made in Autumn last year, Downing Street has described them as "deeply concerning" and that the Ukip leader “is wrong and desperate for attention.” Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has branded the comments “irresponsible,” insisting that "discrimination laws are there for a reason.”

Labour MP Sadiq Khan has expressed his dismay at Nigel Farage’s plans saying: "When my parents moved to London they frequently saw signs saying 'no blacks, no dogs, no Irish'. What UKIP is suggesting would take us back to those days." Mr Khan also spoke about the importance of maintaining the current anti-discrimination legislation saying, "We have made huge progress on tackling racial inequality and discrimination in this country, partly because of Labour's strong anti-discrimination laws, but things are still far from perfect.”

In the interview Mr Farage also suggests that we now live in a post-racial colour-blind Britain, saying: "If I talked to my children... about the question of race, they wouldn't know what I was talking about.”

Mr Farage has defended his controversial comments, claiming that they have been "wilfully misinterpreted" and that he was speaking about nationality rather than race. "I didn't mention race at all. There was no part of that interview which I ever said it at all,” said the party leader. He also insisted that Ukip as a political party are colour-blind saying, “We as a party are colour-blind."

A Ukip spokesman also jumped to the defence of their party leader’s comments stating: “We don’t think there’s anything controversial in what Nigel has said, at least not [for] the vast majority of the country.”

Channel 4 denies that any such misrepresentation of Mr Farage’s comments has occurred. The programme makers clarified: "He was asked a direct question on whether there would be a law against discrimination on the grounds of race or colour and he replied no."