19 May 2014

Nigel Farage v Romanians: who would make a better neighbour?

As the Ukip leader tries to calm the backlash over his comments, Channel 4 News readers give their verdict on who they would prefer as a neighbour: Nigel Farage or “a group of Romanian men”.

Nigel Farage has backtracked on comments he made last week that he would be “concerned” if a group of Romanian men moved in next door.

On Monday, Ukip took out a full-page advertisement in the Daily Telegraph to insist that the party is not racist and to say that the vast majority of Romanians in the UK would make good neighbours. However he added that Romania had “struggled to complete a full transition into a western democracy” and said that the UK can do nothing to stop “organised criminal gangs” from coming to Britain because of EU free movement laws.

He quoted Met Police stats that 92 per cent of all ATM crime in London is committed by Romanians.

The open letter signed by Mr Farage ended with the sentence: “It is not racist to want to stop organised criminal gangs undermining our way of life – it is common sense.”

The original comments, which Mr Farage said had caused a “predictable storm of protest and accusations of racism”, were made during a 20 minute interview with James O’Brien on LBC radio last Friday.

I am Romanian and I am as normal as possible… Sorry to disappoint you guys. Mihaela Ioana Pantelimon

As well as his comments on Romanians, the Ukip leader insisted that his German wife spoke only English on trains, and when asked what the difference between German and Romanian neighbours was, he said: “You know what the difference is.” When grilled on whether he would be submitting his EU expenses to an audit, Ukip’s director of communications was forced to step in and tried to stop the questioning (see video below).

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that Mr Farage’s remarks had revealed his “divisive, nasty approach” to politics.

“I think the mask is starting to slip and I think what’s being revealed that sort of behind the beer-swilling bonhomie is a rather nasty view of the world,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. “I think anyone who singles out one community, one nationality, and says ‘I don’t want to live next door to them’, I really think that’s the politics of division and I think it really should have no place in modern Britain.”

But what did the voters think? Channel 4 News asked readers on Facebook whether they would prefer the Ukip leader or a “group of Romanians” as next-door neighbours. A “share” of the question on to a personal Facebook page was a vote for the Romanians; a “like” was a vote for Mr Farage.

The verdict? Almost 550 people opted for Ukip’s frontman – but almost double (917) said they’d prefer Romanian neighbours.

Here are just some of your comments:

Laura Glennie: Have some wonderful Romanian friends… there’s a lot of British I would not like to live next to!!!

Ana Arsene: I find quite funny the fact that the BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY has a holiday house in Romania and absolutely love to spend time there. I believe if they choose to come and spend their holidays in the middle of Romanians, we are not all a bunch of criminals, right?

Mihaela Ioana Pantelimon: I am Romanian and I am as normal as possible. I am living in a normal house and we have nice neighbourhood. Sorry to disappoint you guys.

Carl Griffith: How many people could actually say that if they were told some Romanians were moving in next door that they’d be totally cool with it and not even flinch? Ask yourselves that and then ask yourselves if your reaction would be no different to being told that your neighbours were going to be a middle class English family. Ask yourselves and be honest. Then see how highly your liberal high horse makes you feel.

Tony Lay: why is it that if u vote Ukip or hold their views the only argument used is racism?… It isn’t just about benefits, how are you going to feel if your job is nicked off you by a migrant willing to do it for less? or that house you had waited months for went to one? or your kids couldn’t get in the local school or you couldn’t get a doctor? etc, we are FULL

Matt Linehan: Terrible, these foreigners, coming over here, taking jobs…. take Mrs Farage for example. Wake up people.

Cristian Tarcatu: I’m Romanian and besides having a University of London law degree I also volunteer a day a week to keep people safe as a Met Special

Tracey Hodghton: It’s not about where you’re from, it’s who you are now, and how much you respect the country you and people you live in with!

Richard McCormick: The reality is the egotistical and over powered left in this country use the accusations of “racist”, “intolerance” and “equality” too easily, they fire these accusations or demands like bullets. I for one am sick to death listening to their worn out propaganda.

Video below: watch the moment Ukip’s spin doctor has to save Nigel Farage