Skip to main content

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage to Speak at Washington Policy Center Conference

On September 27, the Olympia-based Washington Policy Center (WPC) will play host to the divisive far-right politician, Nigel Farage.  The $150-or-more a ticket Eastern Washington Annual Dinner is planned for the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane.

Who Is Nigel Farage?

Nigel Farage has been at the cutting-edge of European leaders pushing back against globalization with some brand of racialized nationalism. Currently a member of the European Parliament for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and a FOX News commentator, Farage was the most prominent figure in the referendum campaign that saw Britain reject European Union membership in June 2016 (popularly known as the Brexit vote).

Farage has a long history of racially divisive comments, including repeated accusations of holding fascist views in his youth, and expressing racist, anti-immigrant, and Islamophobic rhetoric in recent campaigns.

According to The Independent, a 2013 letter from a college teacher of Farage noted that while Farage attended college in the early 1980s, he “held ‘publicly professed racist and neo-fascist views’ and that he had once marched through a Sussex village singing Hitler Youth songs.”[1]

A former friend of Farage confirmed to The Independent that he remembered Farage singing the song “starting with the words ‘gas them all, gas ‘em all, gas them all’.”  The friend also noted that while at school, Farage frequently used the cry “Send em home” when talking about immigrants, expressed support for British 1930s fascist Oswald Mosley, and reveled in sharing the same initials as the neo-fascist group, the National Front.[2]

After starting his political career in the Conservative Party, Farage became a founding member of UKIP in 1993, and lead the party from 2006 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2016. He helped shape the party’s far-right, anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic approach.

While head of UKIP, Farage repeatedly ran into controversy over racist, Islamophobic, and sexist remarks. For instance, during a 2016 radio interview, Farage stirred a bit of an international incident when he called President Obama a “loathsome creature.”[3]

Defending one of UKIP’s candidates who used the racial slur “chinky” to describe a Chinese person, Farage said, “If you and your mates were going out for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?” When he was told by the presenter that he “honestly would not” use the slur, Farage replied: “A lot would.”

Farage’s anti-immigrant sentiments were also expressed in explicitly racist tones.

In 2014, the UKIP leader used his conference speech to declare parts of Britain as being “like a foreign land.” He told his audience that parts of the country were “unrecognizable” because of the number of foreigners there. He told a Channel 4 documentary in 2015 that there is a “fifth column” of Islamic extremists in the United Kingdom.[4] Farage even declared that the “basic principle” of Enoch Powell’s infamously racially incendiary 1968 “Rivers of Blood speech” was correct.[5]

At the height of the Brexit campaign, Farage was accused of deploying “Nazi-style propaganda” when he unveiled a campaign poster showing a stream of Syrian refugees traveling to Europe under the next headline “Breaking point.” The design of the closely resembled the layout an anti-Semitic propaganda poster from Hitler’s Germany. The Guardian newspaper called the UKIP poster “the visual equivalent of Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech.”

UKIP’s Breaking Point Ad (top left) compared to images from Nazi Propaganda.

In 2014, Farage was accused of a “racial slur” against Romanians after he suggested he would be concerned about living next to a house of them. “I was asked of a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be,” he said during a radio interview. Asked whether he would also object living next to German children, he said: “You know the difference.”[6]

Farage also sparked protests from women when he told mothers to “sit in the corner” if they wanted to breastfeed their children.

UKIP’s own racism has been on frequent display. In ethnic nationalism style, a UKIP “Pocket Guide to Immigration” called for an “end support for multiculturalism and promote one, common British culture.”  Ken Chapman, a candidate for the Langley Mill and Aldercar ward on Amber Valley Borough Council in Derbyshire, wrote a post saying: “islam[sic] is a cancer that needs eradicating ­multiculturism does not work in this country clear them all off to the desert with their camals[sic] that’s their way of life.”[7]

Donald Trump (left) and Nigel Farage (right). 

Farage, an early backer of the 2016 Trump campaign, was listed as a person of interest by the FBI in their investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.[8] He also currently serves as a regular FOX News contributor.

The Washington Policy Center

Farage’s WPC appearance marks a potentially different tack for the conservative think tank, a group once dubbed the “The Heritage Foundation of the Northwest” by former U.S. Senator Jack Kemp. The group is best known for promoting conservative budget proposals, opposing public sector unions and advocating “free market environmentalism.”[9] The Washington Policy Center boasted nearly $2.5 million in grants and contributions in 2015 has played a role in state Republican Party politics.

In contrast to UKIP and Farage’s immigrants-out politics, the WPC has focused on crafting an immigration policy to address agricultural labor shortages in Washington State. A June 2017 WPC report argued that addressing this shortage will involve increased mechanization in agricultural production and “expansion of the guest worker program [H2-A].” Unsurprisingly, the report is written from the standpoint of employers and failed to address the labor rights of immigrant workers. As described by Farmworker Justice, such programs provide only limited labor protections, which are frequently inadequately enforced, and leave workers open to abuse and exploitation by U.S. employers and labor recruiters.

While at odds with worker’s rights, WPC’s immigration politics stand in contrast to the overtly anti-immigrant stance of UKIP nationalists, including Farage. And while allying with UKIP-type nationalism is a new direction for the group, this is the not the Washington Policy Center’s first foray into racist policies. For instance, WPC leaders have parroted the anti-Indian movement claim that tribes get “special rights” alongside opposing policies respecting aspects of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights.

WPC Vice-President for Research Paul Guppy has written that “Indian-owned businesses have a special tax status − they do not pay state or federal taxes.”[10] In addition, former WPC Policy Analyst Brandon Housekeeper wrote, “For decades tribal members have benefited from a system of special rules and regulations that give them significant competitive advantages not available to other citizens.” For Housekeeper, these “special” rights include tribal exemption from state taxation and smoking laws [italics added].[11]

The language of “special rights” has long been used in the organized anti-Indian movement in an effort to undermine the tribal rights – a movement dedicated to terminating tribal governments and abrogating treaties signed with indigenous nations. While tribal members do pay federal income tax, tribal exemption from most state taxes is rooted in eons of self-governance that formed the basis of inherent tribal sovereignty. Such sovereignty was affirmed in nation-to-nation treaties signed with tribes and has long been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court.

WPC has coupled its anti-Indian rhetoric with policy prescriptions at odds with tribal rights. The group castigated Governor Christine Gregoire for not pushing “revenue sharing” into gaming compacts with tribes in Washington State. In these compacts, authorized under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes agreed to provide funds to reduce problem gaming and discourage tobacco use and invest in government services, law enforcement, job training, health care and public works.[12] For the Washington Policy Center, this was not enough. Former WPC Policy Analyst Brandon Housekeeper criticized that the compact “do(es) not require Indian tribes to pay any part of their gambling profits to the state, in place of the taxes normally paid by most other business.”[13] Similarly, the group assailed gas agreements between 16 tribes and the State of Washington. Under these pacts tribes purchase fuel for tribally-owned stations with the state’s motor vehicle fuel tax included, report their purchases to the Department of Licensing, and receive 75 percent of the tax as a refund. In addition, tribes agree to spend fuel tax proceeds on transportation and related services.[14] Tribal sovereign immunity has supported tribal sovereignty by blocking the state’s ability to sue tribes to collect taxes. In reality, these compacts have allowed the state to collect a tax that it otherwise could not because of the sovereign status of Indian Nations.[15] The Policy Center’s favored policy would undermine tribal sovereignty by further extending state taxes into Indian Country.

The Washington Policy Center has also opposed raising state default fish consumption rates used by the Department of Ecology to protect water quality and public health. Ecology uses these rates to estimate the potential human health effects (such as cancer) from toxins that accumulate in the bodies of fish, and then humans, as they move up the food chain. The more fish people eat, the lower the allowable toxin levels in water must be to protect human health.[16] Washington State has had among the lowest rates in the country. Tribal governments, tribal communities and tribal organizations like the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission have long-struggled to gain rates reflecting actual tribal consumption levels and upholding treat rights by protecting the health of tribal communities and fisheries. After opposition from corporations and conservatives, and inaction from Washington State, the Environmental Protection Agency intervened to raise the state’s FCRs to “175 grams per day fish consumption rate and a one-in-one million cancer risk level. While a significant improvement (Washington had previously used 6.5 grams per day), the rate still likely underestimates tribal consumption. Members of the Asian-Pacific Islander community and sports fishers also consume at rates higher than average in the state.

For Eastern Washington Policy Center Director Chris Cargill, early Department of Ecology proposals to raise fish consumption rates amounted to “more power to unelected bureaucrats…to impose harsher water rules.” Cargill falsely claimed that the proposed changes are “not based on science but statistical projections,” (statistical projections are routinely used in science) and callously declared:

“Many of those high [fish] consumers, according to the DOE, are the state’s Native Americans, who make up less than 2 percent of the state’s population. The state insists basing consumption rates for the state on such a tiny percentage is appropriate.”[17]

For Cargill and the Policy Center, it is apparently “inappropriate” for the Department of Ecology to set default consumption rates that protect the health of Indian Nations.

The Washington Policy Center’s embrace of Nigel Farage signals a willingness play to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment. UKIP and Farage’s promotion of such bigotry is well documented. It remains to be seen how this will be reflected in future Washington Policy Center policies and alliances.

Our response, however, should be unequivocal – ultra-nationalist racism, attacks on Muslims and immigrants, efforts to undermine tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, and policies aimed at exploiting immigrant workers will not be tolerated.


[1] Masters, Sam. “Letter reveals teacher branded Ukip leader Nigel Farage a ‘fascist’ and ‘racist’ when he was a schoolboy,” The Independent, September 19, 2013,

[2] Former friend of Nigel Farage, “‘Dear Nigel… I wish your teenage fascist views had been dealt with. History could have been very different’.” The Independent. August 11, 2016.

[3] Collier, Hatty. “Nigel Farage sparks racism row after calling Barack Obama ‘a loathsome creature’.” The Evening Standard, November 10, 2016,

[4] Milne, Oliver. “Farage backed Le Pen, saying her far-right presidency would make Brexit easier.” The Guardian, May 4, 2017.

[5] Graham, Georgia. “Nigel Farage: ‘the basic principle’ of Enoch Powell’s River of Blood speech is right”. The Daily Telegraph. January 7, 2014.

[6] BBC News. “Nigel Farage attacked over Romanians ‘slur’.” BBC News. May 18, 2014.

[7] Hodes, Dan. “‘No dogs. No blacks. No Irish’ is now Ukip policy.” The Telegraph. March 12, 2015.; BBC News. Nigel Farage would axe ‘much of’ race discrimination law. March 12, 2015.

[8] Kirchgaessner, Stephanie; Hopkins, Nick; Harding, Luke. “Nigel Farage is ‘person of interest’ in FBI investigation into Trump and Russia”. The Guardian. June 1, 2017.

[9] Washington Policy Center. 2011. What Others are Saying about Washington Policy Center. Downloaded March 2, 2012.

[10] Guppy, Paul. It’s not racist to talk about Indian gaming policy. Washington Policy Center. Downloaded July 12, 2012.

[11] Housekeeper, Brandon. Washington Policy Center. 2008. Policy Notes: Washington State Compacts with Tribal Businesses. July 2008. Seattle, WA.

[12] Washington State Gaming Commission. Downloaded July 19, 2012.

[13] Housekeeper repeated this equation of revenue sharing and taxation tribes in a critique elsewhere, castigating the state for entering a compact with the Spokane Tribe that contains no requirement that the tribe “pay a portion of its annual business profits into the state general fund, thus making all tribal commercial activity tax-free.”Housekeeper, Brandon. Washington Policy Center. 2008. Policy Notes: Washington State Compacts with Tribal Businesses. July 2008. Seattle, WA.

[14] Washington State Department of Licensing. 2011 Tribal Fuel Tax Agreement Report.

[15] In short, the U.S. Supreme Court has complicated this legal issue by undermining tribal sovereignty and allowing a colonial extension of state taxing authority across the boundaries of Indian County in some instances. While tribes and tribal entities are generally immune from state taxation, non-Indians may be taxed for purchases on reservations when the “legal incidence” of the tax is deemed to fall on the non-Indian purchaser and the tax is not otherwise pre-empted by federal law. This is true even when the tribe may face an economic burden from the tax. Tribes may even be required to collect these state taxes. While the Supreme Court has undermined tribal sovereignty by allowing state taxing powers to extend into Indian Country, another aspect of tribal sovereignty, tribal sovereign immunity, has been upheld. This has hindered the ability of state governments to sue in order to collect taxes. In effect, state governments have a colonially-extended “special right” without a litigious remedy. States do have other remedies, however. For background on this area of law, see Canby, William C. Jr. 2004. American Indian Law. Minneapolis, MN: Thomason West; Jensen, Erik M. 2007. Taxation and Doing Business in Indian Country. Case Research Paper Series in Legal Studies. Working Paper 07-7. February 2007. Case Western Reserve University. Downloaded from Social Science Research Network Electronic Paper Collection. Some of the major cases involved include Moe v Confederated Tribes of the Kootanai and Salish Tribes of the Flathead Reservation   (“the State may require the Indian proprietor simply to add the tax to the sales price and thereby aid the State’s collection and enforcement thereof”); Washington v. Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation. 447 U.S. 134 (1980) (States may tax purchases by non-Indians on an Indian reservation even when tribes may be economically harmed by the tax); Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Chickasaw Nation 515 U.S. 450 (1995) (“if the legal incidence of the tax rests on non Indians, no categorical bar prevents enforcement of the tax”).  An important case upholding tribal sovereign immunity in a tax case is Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Citizen Band Potawatomi Indian Tribe. 498 U.S. 505. (Tribal sovereign immunity bars the state from suing to collect on-reservation taxes).

[16] Washington State Department of Ecology. Fish Consumption Rates. Technical Support Document. A Review of Data and Information About Fish Consumption in Washington. September 2011. Publication no. 11-09-050; Washington State Department of Ecology. Fish Consumption Rates for High Exposure Population Groups. July 2009.

[17] Cargill, Chris. Rule-making needs oversight. Spokane Spokesman-Review. July 8, 2012. Downloaded July 19, 2012.

Chuck Tanner and Devin Burghart

Author Chuck Tanner and Devin Burghart

Chuck Tanner is IREHR's research director. Devin Burghart is the executive director of IREHR.

More posts by Chuck Tanner and Devin Burghart