The notorious picture of Donald Trump with Nigel Farage didn’t only snub Theresa May on a global scale, it has also given an epic lift to the career of a comic character well known to Thanet political insiders: Raheem Kassam.
Editor of the London version of the loony right-wing website, Breitbart, Raheem is a longtime henchman of Farage and was brought in to revitalise his campaign to become MP of South Thanet when it was thought the local Kippers had bungled the job.
His first major intervention was to bar investigative journalist Christine Tongue from one of Farage’s famous “public meetings” in Thanet. What made people laugh was the wonderfully cack-handed way he did it. First, he said Christine was being barred from the meeting because of the “nasty” coverage of UKIP in Thanet Watch magazine.
When it was pointed out to Raheem that this is hardly grounds to bar someone from a public meeting, Raheem claimed it was a private meeting. When it was then pointed out to him that UKIP was advertising it as a public meeting, Raheem claimed the meeting was full up. When it was pointed out to him that Christine had applied in advance for a ticket and got one, Raheem explained by hanging up the phone.
Raheem’s next initiative was to claim that Thanet’s Kippers had been subject to “intimidation and bullying” for supporting Mr Farage. But as Thanet’s Stand Up To Ukip group had been extravagantly peaceful and amiable in all their demonstrations against Farage – even to the point of offering Kippers cakes and croissants at one breakfast reception – this only served to make poor Raheem appear very, very silly indeed.
But unabashed Raheem later emailed Thanet Watch trumpeting the virtues of UKIP’s campaign:
“UKIP has fought a clean, positive campaign across the entire country, and is the only political party that took the step to ban members who have had a history of political extremism…UKIP has always believed in peaceful democracy, and has never and will never, have any truck with extremists organisations or actions. We are the only party to ban extremists from joining, and we are the only party that has committed to entirely positive campaigning.”
This, of course, was Raheem’s funniest gag of all, since in the course of UKIP’s campaign, the party
- had an ex-National Front man as Nigel Farage’s campaign manager
- hired a spy who infiltrated the Stand Up To UKIP group and tried (unsuccessfully) to incite them to commit acts of criminal damage.
- and welcomed notorious far-right thugs to one of Farage’s meetings in Broadstairs who the very next day attacked Thanet Stand Up To UKIP campaigners and Labour Party canvassers.
But if you think that’s funny think about this. Raheem’s boss in US Breitbart was Stephen Bannon, the notorious mastermind behind Trump’s campaign and an acknowledged genius in the arts of whipping up white supremacists and neo-Nazis, And Trump has just made Bannon his chief strategy advisor.
Meanwhile Raheem recently pulled out of his bid to become the next leader of UKIP and is undoubtedly at a loose end for something to do. So all this means that our Raheem may soon be putting his “talents” at the service of the most powerful man in the world…
No, come to think of it, that’s not funny at all.