The word ‘extremist’ has lost all meaning

You can now be called one if you think global warming is happening or hope Britain leaves the EU

A few years ago, in these pages, Matthew Parris defined Ukip as a party of extremists. Perhaps one of his llamas had just spat at him and he was feeling a little piqued. Or perhaps he actually meant it, I don’t know. Matthew decided Ukip was a party of extremists because its supporters, in some ectoplasmic sense, demonstrated a ‘spirit’ of extremism. It was less the individual policies of the party that were extreme, it was the avidity with which they were pursued by party members: ‘The spirit of Ukippery is paranoid. It distorts and simplifies the world, perceiving a range of different ills and difficulties as all proceeding from two sources: foreigners abroad, and in Britain a “metropolitan liberal elite” – typically thought to be in league with foreigners.’

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