The guys in the picture are Spitfire pilots from 1940. They are some of the guys who stopped Hitler in his tracks. I wonder how many of them saw 1941? Not many I guess.
It seems to me there is something in this picture that Nigel Farage wouldn't like much.....
Rochester and Strood has come and gone and Nigel Farage’s laddish seduction of the Brits continues to hit the mark. It’s amazing how far talking like a regular human being can get you. As a tweed wearing public school educated investment banker, Nigel really should be an identikit hate figure. Instead he has become the champion of white van men up and down the country for his love of a pint and his unashamed public smoking. In the pub, Nigel is pure knockabout and it seems like ever more people are lapping it up.
He has perfected the art of wrapping up spitting poison in a cloak of likeable harmlessness and he just keeps rolling along. From behind the laugh a minute curtain come whispers of a sometimes uncontrollable temper and a Narcissistic streak a mile wide. But what the hell. Only 30% of voters believe that Nigel was once upon a time a public schoolboy. Such a tiresome truth just gets in the way. More and more people want to like Nigel. He speaks their language. He doesn’t do jargon. He likes a pint. He’ll sort out all these bloody immigrants……
And too be honest, Nigel should remain as nothing more than an amusing figure who is always good for a laugh. Fair enough, 20% of Brits tell the pollsters that they fancy lending him their vote, but by far the more important fact is that 80% would prefer to stick their fingers in a toaster rather than vote for UKIP.
Nigel really shouldn’t be a problem. Not yet. Thankfully it seems that we Brits are still a long way away from being ready to take a stroll down the Hitler road of mindless hate.
The real problem isn't Nigel: the real problem is the leadership of the so called major parties who have the collective backbone of a prawn. Imagine if the three main parties were right now leaded up by Ken Clarke, Alan Johnson and Paddy Ashdown. They would meet Nigel’s nonsense head on.
‘This is poisonous bullshit and we’re having none of it.”
Kind of what Alec Salmond said, right?
Instead Cameron, Clegg and Milliband are so utterly pathetic that they are being reduced to trying outdo Nigel in terms of spitting nastiness.
There is a miserable perception that it is impossible to stand up for the benefits of immigration. To watch the pathetic antics of Ed Milliband, you think that he would face the same danger as his family would have faced back in 30’s Germany had they taken a stand and spoken out for the Jews. I am more than happy to be disgusted at his spinelessness. Over the last year of two, I have been the speaker in all kinds of rooms where there has been an anti immigrant mood in the air – Rotary Clubs, Women’s Institutes, Indy debates. Once the hate agenda comes to the fore, I have always promised myself never to take a backward step. My mother in law - who I adore - is an immigrant who came to these shores from Barbados in the late 50’s. My partner is black and my two lads are brown. As far as I am concerned, making a stand is non-negotiable.
But here’s the thing. It is actually genuinely easy to stand up for immigration, no matter how tough the audience might appear. It is easy for the simple fact that most people are actually instinctively decent. Sure, people are angry and why wouldn’t they be? But it takes mere minutes to persuade a huge majority that the reasons for their lives being so crap has nothing whatsoever to do with the people who have chosen to come to our country. It is not a remotely difficult task to point out the blindingly obvious fact that almost all of our current troubles are down to the born and bred white Brits who emerged from public school and Oxbridge to rake in millions in the City of London. People aren’t stupid. In their heart of hearts they know this. The problem is that the real bad guys are out of their reach. The real bad guys live in Mayfair mansions and cruise the oceans in their vast floating palaces. Hating them can seem as futile as hating the Martians. How much easier it is to blame a crap life on Mr Patel in the corner shop or Mr Kowalski on the building site.
UKIP are not about to do what Hitler did in 1932 and become the biggest party. They might manage 20 or 30 seats. I would happily bet £100 here and now that they won’t get close to beating the SNP next May.
And then what? Then they will almost certainly fade away. The public spotlight isn’t kind on UKIP. The brighter the light, the clearer their nasty true colours become. Right now there is enough novelty value for many to turn a blind eye to the fact that most of them are the same kind of guys who Cameron and Osborne once upon a time broke bread with at the Bullingdon Club before smashing up everything in sight.
Leaders like Clarke, Johnson and Ashdown would know this. They would keep their cool and let Nigel and his cronies run of steam in their own time. But sadly we have no such leaders. Instead we have cardboard cut outs who are scared of their own shadows. Watching Milliband launch his latest anti-immigrant agenda last week was enough to make any half decent human being reach for a bucket. Has the wretched man forgotten that most of his ancestors went up the chimneys of Birkenau and Sobibor and Majdanek and Treblinka? It would appear he has. The hell with family history. In a pitiful, disgusting, pathetic attempt to curry favour with the men who drive white vans for a living, he has instead opted to join Nigel’s Hate Club.
It is easy to write off the hideous antics of those who reside in the Westminster bubble as being of little relevance to anyone eking out an existence in the real world. So long as you go out of your way to be polite to Mrs Patel when you buy a newspaper and a pint of milk, then that’s OK.
To get a close up view of how not OK all of this is, you need to take the stairs all the way down the place where First Base lives and breathes. Only when you come along to the pitiless world at the bottom of the ladder will you see the living breathing damage wreaked by those who have joined Nigel’s Hate Club.
For the last three years we have been doing our very best to support Yemesi and her three children. Yemesi came to London eleven years ago. When they came off the plane, her son was five and her twin daughters were one. I will avoid personal details as it would be very unfair to put them out into the public realm. It is probably OK to point out that for several years Yemesi was under the impression that she was legally entitled to stay in the UK. Once she realised that this was not the case, she embarked on the tortuous journey to citizenship. When she first came through our doors she was in a really bad place. The waiting room for those wanting to become British is a truly brutal place. She was eligible for not a single penny of state support but not allowed to work either. It would be pretty hard to survive such a situation for a few weeks. Yemesi and her kids have somehow managed to hang on for years. The local community, particularly the school, have been absolutely fantastic, and by hook and by crook the family has managed to stay afloat. The last couple of years have been particularly nightmarish as the girls have suffered from nightmares caused by the terror of being deported back to the threat of the murderous madmen of Boko Haram.
In May they had their moment of truth. The future of their lives all came down to a judge in Glasgow. The lawyer from the Home Office played hard ball. He wanted to see the family put on a plane and deported. He didn’t care that the kids spoke not a word of the language of their ancestors. He didn’t care about the nightmares. All he cared about was meeting the remit he had been given. This was where the trickle of Nigel’s poison finally reached journey’s end.
It is a long and steady trickle.
Nigel does his good old boy in the pub thing. UKIP jump a few points in the polls. Cameron shits himself and heads for TV studios to promise to be tougher than tough on immigrants. Cameron picks up the phone to Theresa May and screams down the phone. Get your sorry act together. I need people on planes heading out of Gatwick and I need it now!
Theresa May picks up the phone to a Home Office mandarin and screams down the phone. Get your sorry act together. I need people on planes heading out of Gatwick and I need it now!
And so it goes all the way down the sorry chain with mortgages, car payments, holidays in Tuscany and final salary pension schemes threatened every step of the way. And in the end it all comes down to a terrified family, a vicious lawyer and a judge with four lives in the palm of his hand.
Thankfully the judge had no wish to become a member of Nigel’s hate club. He chose the world of human decency instead and granted Yemesi the right to remain in the UK. It took the Home Office nearly six months to send her the paperwork which means that she is finally allowed to work. But that is all she is allowed to do. The letter could not have been any nastier.
It had the kind of brutal tone that any of the faceless beaurocrats who facilitated the filthy work of Hitler and Stalin would have been proud of. It explained that the judge’s decision meant that the family was safe from being thrown on a plane and deported for two years. The two years are a trial period. If any one of the family commits any offense whatsoever, then all bets will be off and they will be deported. If Yemesi attempts to apply for any benefits whatsoever, then she may well be deported. She has the right to work and to pay tax but nothing else.
Last week she had an appointment at the JobCentre where she was awarded her National Insurance number. The lady she met was appalled at the situation the family was dealing with and quite certain that she could organise at least some State support. Yemesi asked me what I thought. I said she shouldn’t even think of risking it. A lot will change over the next two years. Were she to receive even a £20 voucher for emergency electricity, it might well be enough for some hard eyed lawyer to frog march them all onto a plane back to Lagos.
So the family battles on, sharing a single room which more often as not lacks any trace of heat or light. I am confident that things will soon improve. It looks like they will soon be able to move to a three bedroom flat at half the rent they are paying now. The Bedroom Tax means that there are plenty of empty three bedroom flats to be had for anyone who pays the rent themselves. She is an amazingly strong and determined woman and I have no doubt that she will be in work very soon. Her children are an absolute credit and forever at the top of every class they sit in. All three kids are now working at the weekends and between them they are covering the rent.
So long as Nigel’s poison doesn’t provoke a moving of the goalposts over the next eighteen months, Yemesi and her children will finally become British citizens and they will be a wonderful additional to our community. For the last year Yemesi has baked fifty cakes a week for our food parcels. We provide the flour, butter and sugar and some money for the meter. It is her way of giving something back.
Her best friend in London hasn’t been so lucky. Her friend has been in the UK for fifteen years. She has two kids who are seven and five years old. The UK is only world either of the kids have ever known and English is the only language they speak. The family pleaded to be allowed to stay, but on this occasion the judge said no. He agreed with the lawyer from the Home Office. He agreed that the kids were young enough to be able to adapt. They would manage to learn a new language. So very soon they will walk out of school for the last time, pack up the single bag they are allowed and be driven to the airport and duly sent to a country they have never known. The odds are that they will never go to school again as education is an expensive luxury in Nigeria and they will get off the plane with no money.
I have no doubt that Nigel would dismiss this as sentimental nonsense. Why should we offer a home to such people as Yemesi and her best friend? What have their problems got to do with us? We are a small, overcrowded island and it is high time we focused on looking after our own? Is that about right, Nigel?
Well maybe they do have something to do with us after all. Maybe many of the reasons why things are still so bloody awful in Nigeria are entirely down to us. Once upon a time we stole 13 million of their fittest and strongest people and worked them to death on our West Indian sugar plantations. In the 1960’s we happily armed the government side in a civil war and our guns and bullets enabled the Biafran genocide. And now our greatest blue chip company, BP, bribes every politician it came find to makes sure the oil continues to flow our way. And when the people rise up in anger, we make sure the very same bent politicians have enough British guns and bullets and attack helicopters to crack the whip. When we are short of maths teachers, we import Nigerian maths teachers. When we are short of doctors, we import Nigerian doctors. When we are short of Anglican priests, we import Nigerian Anglican priests. For hundreds of years we have plundered Nigeria of anything that isn’t nailed down.
But Nigel chooses to ignore all of this. No doubt he and his fellow investment bankers are more than happy to take their commissions on the oil money as it flows through the City en route to the Cayman Islands. And when Cameron is under pressure over a lack of doctors in A&E, he is more than happy to bribe fully trained Nigerian doctors to come to the UK and thereby leaving the sick folk at home in the lurch.
From the dark days of Empire to the present day, we have always taken places like Nigeria for anything we have been able to get. And what have we given in return? Our language and a pipe dream of a mother country that is kind and compassionate.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Yemesi and her children with be wonderful addition to our community. All four of them will contribute just like my mother in law Judy contributed hugely over many years as a ward sister with the NHS.
Our political leaders should have the courage to be honoured that such capable people are still willing to make a home here despite the hundreds of years worth of crimes we committed in their countries.
Instead these pathetic pygmies can do no more than follow Nigel into his Hate Club like so may chinless sheep.
Shame on the bloody lot of them.