Tha ionnsaighean air luchd-poileataigs cunnartach dha deamocrasaigh

Chaidh bainne a thilgeil air Nigel Farage agus e ag iomairt am measg nan daoine. (Dealbh: Carl Court/Getty Images)Chaidh bainne a thilgeil air Nigel Farage agus e ag iomairt am measg nan daoine. (Dealbh: Carl Court/Getty Images)
Chaidh bainne a thilgeil air Nigel Farage agus e ag iomairt am measg nan daoine. (Dealbh: Carl Court/Getty Images)
Tha e fìor chunnartach ma dh’fhàsas seo comanta, le Murray MacLeòid​

‘S dòcha nach eil e uabhasach glic a bhith tòiseachadh argumaid le truas ri Nigel Farage, agus gu cinnteach ann an Alba. Chanadh gu leòr gum biodh beatha poblachd na dùthcha tòrr nas fheàrr dheth as aonais mar a bhios e a’ cur a’ choire air a h-uile càil air in-imrich, fiù ‘s ged a tha gu leòr – cus – ag aontachadh ris.

Ach, bu chòir dhan duine is gòraiche dhol timcheall a’ chuid obrachd gun eagal ionnsaigh fiosaigeach bho dhaoine. ‘S dòcha nach aontaich thu ris na th’iad ag radh, no na tha iad a’ riochdachadh ann an dòigh sam bith, ach ‘s e pàirt a bhith beò ann an deamocrasaigh g’eil guth aig a h-uile duine.

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Ach, dha cuid chan eil e gu leòr dìreach gun a bhith ag èisteachd. Dà uair air iomairt an taghaidh, thathas air ionnsaidh a dhèanamh air Farage, an toiseach le bainne agus an uairsin le cuideigin a bhith sadail rudan air.

‘S dòcha dha cuid gun robh seo ruideigin èibhinn (cha deach a ghortachadh ann an dòigh mòr sam bith), ach tha taobh gu math iomagaineach air, agus na shamhla air dùthaich a tha air a sgaradh agus far a bheil aimhreit fada ro chomanta. Tha daoine feargach.

Bidh cuimhne aig gu leòr air iomairt an taghaidh ann an 2001 nuair a chaidh ugh a thilgeil air Iain Prescott; gu cinnteach bidh aig an fhear a thilg e agus e gu math follaiseach nach robh càil a dhùil aige gum faigheadh e a’ cheart cho dona air ais.

Ach ‘s ann ainneamh a tha tachairt, gu seo co-dhiù. Tha trì seachdainean ri dhol anns an iomairt seo agus tha e air tachairt dha Farage dà uair a-nis.

Chan eil mòran cron ann am bainne, duilich an aodach a nighe às a dheidh ‘s dòcha, ach nuair a chluinneas thu cho tric ‘s a tha cùisean mu acid a’ nochdadh sna cùirtean, tha fhios gun robh eagal dearg a bheatha air, mus do thig gur e stuth a bh’ann anns nach robh cron.

Mus tàinig e gu Barnsley dh’iarr na poilis air gun a dhol a-mach am measg nan daoine agus dùil aca ri buaireadh. Ach, fiù ‘s gu h-àrd air bus cha robh e sàbhailte agus cuideigin a’ feuchainn rudan air. Gu fortanach dha Farage cha robh e ro shoirbheachail agus chaidh an duine a chur an greim le na poilis goirid às a dhèidh.

Tha e iongantach g’eil cuideigin a bhios ri còmhradh caran amh agus a’ cur eagal air daoine mu in-imrich air e fhèin fhaighinn aig cridhe faireachdainean de mhì-thoileachais, ach ‘s e an rud is cudromaiche agus is draghail ‘s e dè bhuaidh a bhios aig an seo air poileataigs san fharsaingeachd.

Tha e gu sònraichte duilich smaoineachadh g’eil seo a’ tighinn agus an cuimhne fhathast cho mòr air na thachair dhan ball-pàrlamaid Jo Cox, a chaidh a muirt air an sràid agus i dèanamh a h-obair mar neach-poileataigs; dearbhadh g’eil cunnartan an lùib a bhith an sàs san dreuchd seo.

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Feumaidh an luchd-poileataigs, agus na meadhanan, cuid dhen choire a ghabhail son an aimhreit agus an fhearg, ach ‘s e na daoine a dh’fhulaingeas aig a’ cheann thall, agus an dùthaich, ma nochdas beachd farsaing nach e dreuchd sàbhailte a tha ann am poileataigs tuilleadh. Chan e sin an seòrsa dùthaich a th’unnain, no co-dhiù cha b’e b’àbhaist.

Why attacks on Farage are worrying for democracy

Sympathy for Nigel Farage may not be the best way to start an argument, and certainly not up in these parts. Public life would be a lot healthier without his populist, simplistic anti-immigration message, even if it strikes a chord for far too large a cross section of society.

But even the worst of the reactionary bar room bores deserve to go out about their day-to-day existence without fear of physical violence. You may not like what he says or what he represents, but being able to have a voice is part of being a democracy, even if the likes of Farage reflect its more imperfect side.

But for some the ability just to ignore is not enough. Twice in the space of two weeks while out campaigning, the corduroy-wearing toff in the tweed jacket has been targeted, first with a milkshake and then by objects hurled at him while in an open top bus in Barnsley.

For his biggest detractors it might all be slightly amusing - he was physically unhurt on both occasions, so no huge damage - but there’s a nasty insidious side to all this, and speaks to a society more divided than ever, and one in which violence is all too often a regular occurrence. The population at large is angry; an under-current of resentment ready to boil over at any time.

There will be those who will well remember the incident with John Prescott and the egg in the 2001 election, not least the perpetrator himself who clearly wasn’t ready for the union bruiser to defend himself quite so effectively.

But such incidents are, thankfully, rare. At least that was until this year’s election, with Farage in the firing line on two occasions and three weeks of the election still to go.

Having milk poured over you is no big deal in itself, a dry cleaning bill at the most, but it must have been a terrifying experience, that horrible split second before realising it’s a harmless substance.

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Prior to his appearance in Barnsley, the police warned him not to go out and about in the crowd as they anticipated a flash point. In the end, even being on the top deck of a bus wasn’t safe enough.

There is a certain irony in a man who espouses the worst of dog whistle politics and scare-mongering over immigration suffering the consequences of a culture of resentment, but the far more important consideration is the wider impact on politics.

The real worrying aspect to all this, what makes it so hard to accept, is that it comes with the memory of Jo Cox, the MP who was brutally murdered by an attacker while going about her constituency business, still raw in the memory; a stark reminder that serving in public life is no longer a safe refuge.

Politicians themselves and the media have to take their share of the blame in fostering a climate of division and rancour, but ultimately it will be the people, and the country, who will suffer from politics being increasingly seen as an unsafe pursuit.

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