I’m a middle-class liberal, so I hate UKIP and everything and everyone to do with UKIP; I must do, it’s in the hand-book.
I hate UKIP so much, I’ve had a moral dilemma over wearing purple clothes at the same time as having blonde hair, lest someone mistake me for a UKIP sympathiser.
UKIP are composed entirely of racist, homophobic and misogynistic morons, aren’t they? That’s what the papers I read write, that’s what the intelligent and educated people I follow on Twitter tweet, that’s what I think; I hate everything to do with all UKIP supporters.
Then I met Paul White, the UKIP Candidate for Fylde, and I didn’t hate him. Oh shit.
Paul runs a BnB in Blackpool, and I went there this week, to get drunk and buy some seaside rock in the shape of a penis. I have a big, important life, you should be intimidated. We booked his venue having no idea that he was a UKIP candidate, there was no mention of this on the website. Had there been, I wouldn’t have booked it, and I probably would have had a prolonged discussion of how terrible it is that people have fascist political leanings and are still allowed to run a business in 21stC Britain. I would have made a clever joke about Hitler running a Gregs, had another glass of Merlot and then gone to bed, having booked a room in a nice, non-genocidal establishment.
Paul greeted us as we arrived, and I was instantly thrilled to see that he was reminiscent of Barry Chuckle. I attempted a ‘to me to you’ moment with my suitcase, but he was having none of it. He’s a friendly guy, warm and welcoming, a perfect hotelier personality, and he showed us his well-stocked bar and clean restaurant.
I’d gone with my sister and my friend, and we’d booked a triple room. On arrival, it transpired that this was not the single and bunk beds we’d hoped for (retro!) but one single and one double bed. None of us wanted to share the double bed, so we started arguing about it, like children, in the bar of the hotel. Paul stepped in and said he had a very small single that was empty and that we could use it at no extra cost. Unaware of his UKIP leanings at this point, enamoured by his Chuckle brother vibe and impressed by his generosity, how could I not like Paul at this exact moment?
He showed us to our rooms (2 for £75 including 3 breakfasts), and they were immaculate. I’ve stayed in a few BnBs in Blackpool and this was the best by a prize-bingo mile. The attention to detail was unbelievable; there were tiny little bottles of all sorts of things, the décor and bedspreads matched, there was a wide range of complementary in-room treats to drink/eat. I made a comment to Paul that his wife was obviously responsible for these details and he was wounded! It was all him.
We mooched out for dinner, had a couple of drinks in off-peak, ghostly Blackpool and then came back to the hotel for a few more drinkies. I have always been partial to a brandy coffee, but I don’t expect to see it on a BnB bar menu at midnight. Paul had dressed up for the evening, and he was wearing a yellow and purple striped tie. I didn’t notice, because I was too busy moaning about how hard it was to get a decent brandy coffee in this town.
Paul disappeared and made two perfect brandy coffees, complete with tiny chocolate shavings on top. I was starting to love this guy a little bit and I asked him how his evening had been, I may have been flirting, it’s hard to tell with me.
He told me he’d been to a meeting as part of his duties as a local candidate for UKIP, and a little bit of cream dribbled out of my nose as I realised that I was having a nightcap with a fascist. He asked me if I’d noticed his tie, which of course, I hadn’t.
We entered into an interesting discussion that lasted some time. I liked his approach as a politician; when I asked him questions, he didn’t always have an answer. At one point, he actually got up and got a copy of the UKIP manifesto to help him clarify his points. He was genuinely passionate about the cause of his party as it had been presented to him.
I would vote for Paul. I can’t, because he’s a UKIP candidate, but I’d vote for him as a politician. I’d love to see a party leader respond to a question with “Hmmm. That’s a good point. Let me think about that and read this before I answer”.
Paul is not racist, homophobic or misogynistic. Paul is not a fascist. He’s been very ill and he genuinely loves and values the NHS. He has a family, with young grandchildren, and he is obsessed with them having the best future possible. Paul is really nice man who works very hard; if every UK citizen (including our top politicians from all parties) had his work ethic, Britain would be in less trouble right now.
When I talked to Paul about the policies of his party, he explained them very differently from the liberal media, of course he did, it’s all a circus. The point is, he was genuine in what he was saying, he was not trying to garner votes with a disingenuous voice, he was 100% sure that his party could make Britain better for working people.
Paul didn’t swing my vote, I won’t be voting UKIP. That’s not just because I’m a liberal, it’s because UKIPs policies have extreme physical and practical consequences for the UK, important beyond even the moral implication of withdrawing aid and amnesty to other non-British humans. I’m quite happy to attempt objectivity when thinking about politics.
Honestly, if we could definitely improve Britain by leaving the EU, closing our borders and shipping out a load of established Polish families, I’d probably vote for it. But UKIP, like every other party, can’t actually explain HOW they will achieve the things they say they will. None of the parties can actually show where money is coming from any more than they can explain where it’s gone.
None of the parties have addressed the issue of lobbying the EU Parliament to make moves to change legislation that allows massive corporations to have a tax-free party in Europe whilst European citizens go hungry and die waiting for hospital treatment, or whilst disabled British citizens are forced to relinquish live-saving benefits.
I had a great time at Paul’s BnB, but I was left feeling doubtful if I should recommend it to anyone, purely because of his UKIP leanings. His hotelier skills are second to none, should I attempt to punish his business because of his political leanings? I may never have even found out that he was a UKIP candidate, I wouldn’t have thought twice about recommending his establishment then.
I don’t think I was rude to Paul during our discussion, but it would have been very obvious that I did not approve of his political views; I directly called him a hypocrite at one point. The next morning, he cooked me a delicious breakfast with a big smile.
Meeting Paul made me double check what ‘liberal’ meant to me. My first response to any mention of UKIP is not a liberal one. If I am to continue describing myself as a person of liberal views, then I need to check that response in myself, and quickly.
Admittedly, it’s election day, and I’m probably just a bit overexcited. Politics never seems so relevant as in the week of a general election, but I need to remember who I am.
I am tolerant. I am balanced. I will not allow an instinct of hate towards another human just because he acts or thinks differently to me.
If I’d arrived at The Kings in Blackpool, and it had been a purple building called “The UKIP Stopover”, I would have turned around and gone home, and would have done myself out of a night in a fantastic establishment as a result.
If I’m going to look at one part of a human being, and based solely on that, make a judgement about who they are or what they deserve in life, without further examination, then I am doing exactly what liberals should denounce in others. Meeting the UKIP candidate reminded me how easy it is to get whipped up in political hyperbole and become hypocritical.
Paul is a nice man, he runs a tight ship, and if you’re ever in Blackpool, I officially recommend his hotel. I do Believe In Britain, I believe her citizens have the right to hold any political beliefs they want, without fear of reprisal in any form outside hearing other opinions on politics.
Meeting Paul may not have affected my vote, but it was a timely reminder of the best reason for a democratically elected government in the first place. I don’t want to see UKIP running the country, but I will always vote for their right to try. I will always be a liberal, and I hope no amount of election media persiflage will ever make me forget that again.