It was the first Saturday of blazing sunshine that we have had for a while. The last place on earth I wanted to be was at a Q+A session indoors. The prospective candidate for the next general election was to spend an hour and a half on why we should vote for him.
When UKIP is mentioned an immediate reaction is released. They are notorious; members are accused of being racist, sexist, homophobic etc. They appeal to the fear of multiculturalism and want to create a utopia of a time that never really existed if you read the decent modern history books about the 20th century¹.
Technically, I should be in the core demographic of voters. I am from a white, lower middle class background. I am at the end of my twenties with a full time job and am looking to set up home in the near future. However, from their representation in the mass media alone, I am completely opposed to the idea of their nationalism and I feel the way do when an elderly relative says something really incomprehensible about immigration at Christmas.
I am in a position of wondering where my vote should go. But my first instinct with UKIP is a definite ‘Non’.
After watching a documentary about another Eurosceptic, Margaret Thatcher, I made my way to the public meeting which was advertised on a leaflet put through my door. I was terrified approaching the hall. I imagined being harassed by anti-racist demonstrators. But it actually felt like going back to Army Cadets. There was no indication on where to go and the modern complex seemed abandoned for the rare March sunshine.
The hall had been set up for about a 100 people. Big UKIP banners stood behind a large committee desk. However, there were only about 12 in attendance including myself. The fear I had was I couldn’t be anonymous; or they would find out that I am not a supporter and bundle me in the back of a Ford Modeo and interrogate me to the point of cigarette burns on my forearms. All in attendance seemed to be UKIP supporters, a few even declared it when asking questions. They were very ordinary local people and mostly retired.
I was expecting an hour and a half of the age old prejudices on what seems to be UKIP’s core policies, i.e. anything about immigration. There was a bit of that. There was a question about foreign aid. But I was surprised at a few things: the candidate was affable, polite and very down to earth. No hint of what you expect from the Party. No hint of a future corrupt politician, massive ego or Eton tie. The main questions put by the attendees were concerns about the lack of housing, the state of schooling and the NHS. I was even amused at some comments, and did agree with how people felt disenchanted with politicians being out of touch are overpaid. There was even an almost conspiracy theorist vibe about the BBC. I was even more amused when the Ukippers accused others of scare-mongering.
But I’ve mentioned Christmas before and I adopted a method to steer relatives clear of making me think they were just horrible and racist. Every time the questions seemed to go down that anti-immigration road, I posed questions in-line with what people asked earlier to do with housing. There was a latecomer sitting right in front of me in the meeting who sounded like an activist and kept going on about ‘us’ and ‘them’. I need not go into detail. One of my questions was about rail fares, but I don’t think there was an actual game plan apart from scrapping HS2 and investing more into the railways. The second – what did leaving the European Union actually mean? Apparently they would renegotiate something.
The thought of a UKIP led government is not something I wish to imagine. There seems to be some radical policy plans, but definitely not for the best and not really thought through. They are vague on a lot of things that actually matter.
I went in imagining the party were a threat and had some of my preconceptions about the party confirmed. Rest assured, I will not be voting for this party. I do think, however, that there maybe a few UKIP candidates elected (and not defected from the Tory party.) Due to his celebrity status, I think Nigel Farage will become an MP (as Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California). But I don’t think UKIP are going to tip the scales in this town.
By John Barker, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.
– Read Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain by Robert Winder for a fresh and accurate look at the history of Britain beyond the rich and the battles.