On the very same day as Prime Minister, David Cameron announced to a selected audience of students and invited guests that the previous government had allowed immigration to become “far too high and badly out of control.” Of course, he hadn’t travelled from London to actually address this audience, rather the even more select group of television cameras in front of which he likes to make policy announcements. He slipped in the back door and out again in just over an hour.
Indeed, politicians in general are very wary of actually talking to Joe Public lest they find themselves in Gordon Brown meets Gillian Duffy situation and say what they actually think, but they do have to at least appear to get out of Westminster and meet the ‘people’ Whether anyone actually falls for this I am not so sure.
That same evening, a little further into the Suffolk countryside, in a small town mainly built as a post-war London overspill, came a politician from a different era; from the time of soap-boxes and load-hailers. Nigel Farage, the chain smoking, Euro loathing, barrow-boy-esq leader of the UK Independence Party had rocked up in Brandon
The small community centre was bursting at the seams before his arrival necessitating more seating to be found including a rather well worn sofa; and with the people came the stifling heat. The faithful who were in attendance were in general reminiscent of a Tory party conference in the 1980′s, just without the well cut suits, but faithful to the cause every last one of them.
Fresh from the Eastleigh by-election where the party came second, the enigmatic leader of UKIP soon had the faithful whipped into a frenzy.
“Europe is now in the grip of fanatics,” bellowed the MEP. “I don’t just want Britain out of the EU, I want the rest of Europe out of the EU.”
And so he continued. Cyprus, fishing quotas, wind farms, immigration, employment, everything with a hook to hang on in fact.
Often dismissed a raving Europhile, and borderline racist, Farage has suddenly found himself plunged into the mainstream, the big political parties beginning to take note. After UKIP’s election results there has been a hardening of policy from both Conservatives and the Labour Party.
With UKIP becoming less of a fringe party, and with elections local elections looming in May, covering politics could actually become enjoyable once more, because whatever the message they have a showman for a leader, who can work a crowd, with what they want to hear. The only other thing noticeable in the room was the age of the crowd. UKIP had better capitalise fast; it didn’t look too many of them would be around for too long.
To licence images from the UKIP Brandon rally please click here.