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Film & Music, Society

The day we took over Nigel Farage’s website

Indie label Alcopop! spotted its chance to have some fun with UKIP

In hindsight the BNP were never too much of a genuine threat to the political mainstream. In spite of all of the scaremongering that accompanied their moment in the political spotlight, they were undeniable led by an idiot. Nick Griffin, the pasty-faced embodiment of homophobia, racism and antiquated views preaching easily picked-apart, narrow-minded lunacy. while his supporters set about doing their level best to showcase exactly why they could never be taken seriously.

Fast forward a few years and it’s the very much more acceptable face of Nigel Farage leading the right-wing charge; appealing to middle England, protecting the jobs of our citizens, happily drinking a tasty pint of ale… Winning The Times’s Briton of the Year Award, and making UKIP look like a genuine alternative.

Which is exactly why I had such a bloody great time on Tuesday, spending the afternoon asking the nation’s press how UKIP could possibly be trusted running this country of ours if they couldn’t even keep hold of their campaign website – having, for a few hours at least, lost it to us.

"Us" being Alcopop! an independently run UK indie record label working with the likes of Israeli dissidents Acollective and UK alt-punk champions Johnny Foreigner, that I’ve run with my pal Kev for the last seven or so years.

It was glorious. Within seconds of dropping that fateful tweet sharing the news that we had claimed for our own, Twitter was with us, declaring Alcopop! the winners of the Internet. Lawyers in their droves offered services for free, wonderful left-wing charities suggested well thought through destinations that we could redirect the website to, and our inbox was filled with questions from, at first, music press – and as the story gathered momentum, people from across the media spectrum.

To back up a little and fully clarify here, at approximately 10.30am on Tuesday 6 January we purchased UKIP’s official campaign website, following a tweet from a guy at Vice who had found out the site registration had expired.

The receipt for the site was firmly in the inbox, and it all seemed like we were set! We’d decided to kick off with one of our designers putting together a field of multi-cultural unicorns as a placeholder.

We were pretty confident we’d hold onto the site. Cybersquatting laws seem primarily to revolve around people trying to profiteer from domains they have no right to, and we made it clear from the off that we were NOT for selling.

This was not an attempt to make money out of a political party (although frittering UKIP’s funds away on removing colourful unicorns is a humorous notion). We wanted to have a bit of fun, and make a statement against a movement that we both believe is inherently racist and damaging to society. We’re not an overtly political record label, pushing a certain ideology or doctrine. We’re inclusive, and want to welcome everyone regardless of their ideas or beliefs: that is until they start impinging on the freedom of others.

Unfortunately, within a few hours, it became clear that for whatever reason, the site was no longer in our possession. We’re still without much of a genuine explanation; GoDaddy simply claimed that “due to a technical issue on our customer’s side was unavailable yesterday morning. Using our expertise we helped UKIP to restore its website facilities”

In other words; someone messed up, sold us the site and had to claw it back. Despite the receipt and clear transaction trail, we no longer had the website. But the stories and well wishes from anti-UKIPers kept on coming.

We’re still surprised that old immigrant-bashing Nigel himself hasn’t been in touch. After all, we’re both middle class and white, and we thought an invitation to talk website registrations in a country pub (classic Farage promo-shot style) was surely on the agenda. But with nothing from UKIP at all, and despite a few of their online trolls calling us fascist for trying to pinch their website (hmmm, yeah, OK) – the incident, for now, has simmered down, with UKIP trying to play down their incompetence as outside election tricks, and gloss over the fact that just for a few hours, they could very well have been electronically homeless.

As for us? We’ll go back to releasing awesome records (if we do say so ourselves); but we can promise that we’ve got something else rather special on the back-burner for election time that will reinforce our position, and give us another chance to share our views on the scourge of UKIP before votes are cast…. Look out for it!

I’m not naïve enough to pretend that this stunt will have had much effect on the Great British voting public: we know our wider audience are on a broadly similar tip politically, and delight in making fun of Farage and his cronies at any opportunity without our help! But if we succeeded in highlighting UKIP’s incompetence to just one more voter who might otherwise let themselves be swayed by UKIP’s everyman approach, then we’ll consider it a very successful day indeed.

Jack pOp is the co-founder of AIM Small UK Label of The Year 2013 Alcopop! Records, a label very much dedicated to the joy of buying physical records, and a firm believer in creativity, personality and genuine love for music over big budget spending. Over the years they have released stuff of on bicycles, frisbees and wrestling masks working with the likes of established heroes johnny foreigner, Fight Like Apes, Anamanaguchi and Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly as well as some brutally exciting new bands like Waylayers, Brawlers and Get Inuit. Jack rates Jurassic Park as by far the greatest film of all time.