Nigel Farage was soft on racism - but his success put left wing to shame, says Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell, seen here at a rally with then-Green party leader Natalie Bennett, offered a balanced view on Nigel Farage (Getty)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has criticised departing Ukip leader Nigel Farage for leaving a "xenophobic atmosphere" behind.

However Tatchell, one of Britain's most prominent crusaders for minorities and LGBT groups, also suggested that the Brexit figurehead's success "puts the incompetent left to shame.

Farage stepped down as Ukip leader earlier today, replaced by Diane James, after two spells in charge of the eurosceptic party.

His departure has received a mixed reaction. Many praised his influence and conviction on Twitter, but Ukip founder Alan Sked suggested he had taken Ukip to the far-right.

Tatchell told talkRADIO: "The xenophobic post-referendum atmosphere is Farage's lasting legacy. While I doubt he personally intended it to be so toxic, he rode the wave of anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment; paving the way for the division and prejudice that now scars the British body politic. 

"Although not a racist himself, Nigel never did enough to condemn or reign in the racists and ultra nationalists who latched on to his bandwagon."

"As a left-winger, I disagree with Farage. But he took on and defeated the political establishment who wanted us to remain in the EU. His success puts the incompetent left to shame. He's been more effective, albeit for he wrong reasons, than any left-wing leader in recent times. Perhaps that's part of the reason why some on the left hate him? Are they jealous?"