For the last few weeks This Writer has been helping to run a Labour Party street stall in my local town centre – and it has been a civilised experience, until now.
In advance of the Powys County Council elections in May, we have been running a simple survey in which passers-by get to vote for the three most important council-related issues, to give us guidance on how to run our campaign. The poster says something like “Vote for the most important issues!”
Today, a tall, thin man in his mid-20s turned up, scanned the stall and said: “Where do I vote for UKIP?”
I said Stoke-on-Trent Central could have done with him on Thursday, but this was not that kind of ballot; we were the Labour Party out seeking the views of the public.
So he gave me some views. There were a lot of F-bombs, C-bombs, arm-waving and ranting. The most readily-publishable was that his home town of Portsmouth was overrun with immigrants, with 600 Romanians working for one taxi firm. He clearly had it in for Romanians.
I’m not sure there are 600 EU migrant workers living in the whole of Powys, let alone my town. It just happens that I do know one Romanian who lives here, and she’s lovely. In any case, the UK isn’t being overrun with immigrants (as recent stories on This Site have shown); hate crime is driving them away, and this could cause trouble for the economy at some point because we genuinely need many, if not most, of the foreign nationals who work here. That’s what I told this man.
Mr UKIP didn’t like what he was hearing. In fact, he hated it so much, he decided to stand in front of the stall, trying to drive people away from it by screaming “White power! New world order!” at the top of his voice, at anybody passing by.
Inevitably, someone was going to take issue with him. It happened to be a very tall and burly bearded man who told Mr UKIP he needed to calm down, shut up, and find out the facts before believing everything his television told him.
They squared up in front of the stall. I wondered if this might be a good time to call the cops, then realised I hadn’t brought my mobile with me.
Fortunately the bearded man, having picked up a couple of leaflets, stalked off down the street… pursued by Mr UKIP, who seemed determined to provoke some form of violence, while (fortunately) unwilling to initiate any.
I breathed a sigh of relief and actually enjoyed at least five minutes chatting with somebody relatively sane.
And then he was back.
“What can your Labour do for me?” he demanded.
Oh well. At least it was a question I could answer.
“Have you got a job?” I asked.
“I’ve got an interview at the cheese factory tomorrow!” he seemed quite proud of this. I wondered whether he’d be cutting the cheese, or what. He was certainly doing enough of that here.
I ran through Labour’s employment policy. “Have you got a pension?”
“I’m 24! Why do I need a pension?”
“Ask me again when you’re 65! Have you got health insurance?”
“You’ll need it under the Tories – or UKIP!” And I smiled at him.
Amazingly, that was what broke the guy. He stalked off – berating me for being “smug” and still muttering about white power and the new world order, whatever he thinks they are.
If that is the quality of supporter or member UKIP currently encourages, they can stay with UKIP – and ruin its chances at any future elections, just as Paul Nuttall – by virtue of his own qualities – ruined his chances in Stoke.
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