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Why UKIP's Popularity is Such a Bother

I've only once been subject to overt racism. UKIP make it more likely that it will happen again.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

UK politics is in a most bizarre state.


For the last 5 years or so, we've seen a massive turnaround in how the country is reacting to our elected officials. From expenses scandals to a never before seen global economic crash (including the collapse of UK banks) to privatisation of the NHS to coalition government to austerity measures and food banks, it almost seems more crazy that we’ve kept going as a nation and haven't fallen apart.


I was never really a politically interested citizen; I was what would be called a moderate. I vote whenever called to, and would loosely follow what was happening in politics - until things started going all screwy with the country and I started to listen more to understand better.


And amongst it all, has been the perfect breeding ground for UKIP. They’ve been festering as a group for many years, but no-one really bothered about them because they were too far on the fringe, not influencing the national debate in any way whatsoever. But with the events of recent years, their voice has steadily been rising up, their views being heard more widely, and we’re now seeing and hearing more about UKIP in the mainstream media than ever before.


To many, myself included, UKIP seem nothing more than a better presented BNP. They offer nothing of substance beyond claiming that immigrants are the cause of the UK’s societal and national problems, and that the EU has far too much control over how we govern ourselves. The only reason for the scale of their curerent popularity is that much of the electorate is disenfranchised with the main political parties. I have faith that the main UK political parties will be able to win back most of their votes in next year's national elections and am reassured that, at time of writing at least, UKIP control no councils and have no MPs. But they are taking the UK's national debate back to a way of thinking which many of us believed had mostly expired and only remained with an insignificantly small minority.


UKIP's current popularity also bothers me because, however much Mr Farrage and the UKIP leadership claim they are not a racist party, people like me are reminded, more so than ever, that we are darker-skinned UK citizens. Regardless of whether, like me, you were born and raised in the UK, have never claimed benefits, have been working since you could, paid your taxes in full and raised money for UK charities, were educated in schools, colleges and universities here and have become a school governor, regardless of all that, we are reminded that the colour our skin matters more than any of it. How very base an argument. How very horrid and retro - downright disgusting in fact.


Many of us, not just ethnic minorities but those in our close circles too, are now mindful of where we spend time in the UK. We enjoy going to the beaches, visiting national landmarks, taking in the many areas of natural beauty across our land, visiting theme parks and all sorts, and now we're going to have to consider where we want our families and friends to spend their time. Why? Because although we may be as untroublesome as they come, we don’t want to be subjected to comments like “why don’t you go back to your own country”, when England is our home country, always has been and always will be. We don’t want our family and friends subjected to unfavourable behaviour because of the colour of their skin. We don’t want to apologise for things we haven’t done just so we don’t inadvertently upset people and make them think we're not grateful for living in this country.


We're now reconsidering our normal and day-to-day interactions with a bit more self-scrutiny because people now have it in their heads that immigrants are the problem, and we're clearly not white. People’s implicit bias will already come to the fore influencing their behaviour without them realising, and now it’s in their mind that we fall into a category of problem people, we have to be purer than pure just to maintain a regular and normal day-to-day existence. Ugh. 'Cos people don’t have enough to deal with already, we now have to more consciously make sure we're not giving anyone a cause to be offended.


Recently it was Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year, and up and down the country there were celebratory parades to commemorate this important day for my community. Every parade is supported by the local police, volunteers, local councils, with months of planning, and they are the most peaceful and enjoyable of events; many who were not Sikh enjoyed the festivities massively. And yet I now find myself imagining that some people may have been thinking, "Oh God, now they’re taking over our roads, and I can’t get to where I need to be because of them”. 


UKIP bothers people like me (and now I'm talking attitudinally like me, rather than members of ethnic minorities) because for a long time we’ve understood that we're equal and have the privilege of living in an equal society. We enjoy this privilege and contribute to it in many ways. But according to many UKIP supporters - and some of their candidates, apparently - some of us are not equal. We’re second class, for no reason other than our ancestors were born abroad and we’re darker skinned. So we shouldn’t have the same rights. We shouldn’t have the same civil liberties. We shouldn’t have access to services. All because an ignorant group of people think that they’re made to accept ways of living they didn’t choose.


We heart England and the UK so much. We only desire to be part of this country and have every desire to be fully contributing members of this society, to help people live good and positive lives, and to support our families and friends in growing and developing into brilliant people. We don’t and never would cause intentional offence because of someone’s skin colour, their beliefs, sexual orientation, gender or anything else. We believe in diversity, inclusion and helping the most vulnerable in society to live dignified lives.


We are everything that UKIP stands against. We're more evolved than them and the only way UKIP know how to challenge us is by taking the debate to the lowest common denominator.


I'm proud to say I've only once been subject to overt racism and that was a long time ago. UKIP bother me because they make it more likely that it will happen again.

Sukh Pabial

About the Writer

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Sukh an occupational psychologist by profession and is passionate about all things concerned with learning and development in the workforce. His blog is here.


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