On 13 March, two videos uploaded by the British YouTube content creator “You Kipper” were shared on Facebook by a far-right activist, two days before he murdered 50 worshippers in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
One of these videos was entitled “A New Machine – Sir. Oswald Mosley”, and featured speeches by the leader of the interwar British Union of Fascists (BUF) over emotive music. Mosley was named by the gunman as “the person from history closest to my own beliefs” in his manifesto.
The second video was entitled “There’s no England now”, and featured clips of worshipping Muslims, pro-EU and left-wing activists, London mayor Sadiq Khan and the Manchester bombings over the song “Living on a Thin Line” by the Kinks (the video’s title refers to lyrics in the song). Sadiq Khan was singled out as a target for assassination in the gunman’s manifesto.
On 17 March, two days after the shooting, the official UKIP Facebook account also shared a post containing the You Kipper video “(Why you should) Join UKIP”. The video features clips of a speech by UKIP leader Gerard Batten at the Day for Freedom rally of May last year, alongside a soundtrack by the British fashwave musician Xurious (fashwave, short for “fascist wave”, is a genre of far-right electronic music popular with the alt-right). You Kipper also provided a link to the UKIP membership form in the video’s description.
The You Kipper channel has built a substantial following since its launch in 2015, amassing 28,500 subscribers, and almost 7 million views. As the name suggests, a focus of the channel is producing pro-UKIP propaganda; You Kipper described the party as “our guys” in a video chat with the white nationalist vlogger Colin Robertson (AKA Millennial Woes), and spoke positively about Batten’s stance against “population replacement”.
However, You Kipper has also described himself as “Mosleyite”, and blends his pro-UKIP content with the open endorsement of fascism. For example, a video entitled “British Ethnonationalism” features audio of the British fascist Jonathan Bowden, and the entirety of his video “British Nationalism” is a speech by John Tyndall, the former National Front and British National Party leader and a nazi. The channel aims is to present extreme ideas in a digestible way, whilst also encouraging viewers who may be attracted to such content to join UKIP.
It is therefore worrying to see UKIP accounts sharing You Kipper’s propaganda. In February the Bury, Lancashire branch shared a video entitled “Working class uprising: why we voted LEAVE”, a fact that You Kipper claimed to find “encouraging”. The video features clips of a post-industrial town in County Durham, and the sole comment under the UKIP branch’s post reads, “That town is prime for a musrat invasion.”
The interaction between UKIP and this fascist YouTuber indicates something about the new direction of the party. UKIP has undergone a transformation over the last year under Batten, pivoting towards anti-Muslim, far-right politics, and orienting more towards the online right, partly due to the influence of YouTubers Carl Benjamin (AKA Sargon of Akkad), Paul Joseph Watson and Mark Meechan (AKA Count Dankula) who joined the party in June. Benjamin’s contributions to UKIP’s YouTube channel on subjects such as trans rights has recently helped it become the most subscribed to YouTube channel of any political party in the UK. Benjamin, who has a history of making appalling statements, is currently poised to represent UKIP in the event that the UK participates in the European Union elections.
With the exodus of a significant section of UKIP’s traditional base, The Guardian has reported an influx of younger, more radical activists, coinciding with the growth of far-right media sites, such as Politicalite and Unity News, that are strongly in favour of Batten’s far-right politics. UKIP has also begun making nods towards internet culture; on 11 March the UKIP account tweeted “PATRIOTS SUBSCRIBE TO @PEWDIEPIE”. The “subscribe to PewDiePie” campaign initially started last year as a push to keep YouTube channel PewDiePie the most subscribed to channel on the platform, but has since become a meme, in part used to signal internet literacy. The New Zealand gunman began the livestream of his massacre by telling viewers “Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie” before driving to the Christchurch mosque.
UKIP has changed, and has become a participant in the online culture war as much as a political threat. Sharing an article from The Guardian which reported that UKIP’s surge in membership is shifting the party to the far right, You Kipper tweeted: “when I said UKIP are a cultural as well as political force this is what I meant: we’re helping to shift the political climate”.
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