It seems that a few weeks ago I missed the fact that Nigel Farage had spoken out about the South East of London to journalists at the UKIP party Conference. For those reading this not aware of who UKIP are, they are party who generally think that immigrates are both ‘stealing all our jobs’ and at the same time coming to the Uk to ‘live off our Benefit system’. Very clever some of these foreigners. The Party are pro British business and interests and want to see the UK come out of the European Union – a view, to be fair, held by many people who don’t share their anti-immigration stance.
Anyway, It seems as part of his argument that parts of the UK had become “unrecognisable”, Nige got on a train at London Charing Cross and headed to the south east. Over to Nige:
“Do I think parts of Britain are a foreign land? I got the train the other night, it was rush hour, from Charing Cross. “It was a stopper going out and we stopped at London Bridge, New Cross, Hither Green, it was not til we got past Grove Park that I could hear English being audibly spoken in the carriage. “Does that make me feel slightly awkward? Yes it does. I wonder what is really going on. I am saying that and I am sure that is a view that will be reflected by three quarters of the population, perhaps even more.”
Oh, how I laughed.
I’ve been on that train, and indeed, as I live in Hither Green, I’ve done that journey out of Charing Cross at many different times of the day, and yet I can’t ever remember being sat there thinking ‘ well, this makes me feel slightly awkward ‘ – well, ok, there was that one time, but that was just because the toilets were broken, and I’d been drinking and, well. But seriously, what IS he on about? For starters the biggest percentage of people travelling at that time are commuters, so travelling solo, so are most likely to be reading The Standard, a Book, their Kindle, and/or listening to their iPod or using their mobile device – not talking. Only a small percentage will be talking and a lot of those will be doing so on their phones. They also, like most people I know may not feel the need to speak at 100 decibels to make themselves heard down the other end of the carriage – though some certainly do seem to think it necessary.
As a result, when I’m travelling I can probably ‘hear’ the handful of people that are sat /standing near me in the carriage (unless it is post pub chucking out time). So, maybe a dozen or so people on a carriage that at capacity will hold 150+ seated and at rush hour, inc those standing, 200+.
So even if we take Nige’s story at face value what he is essentially saying is that on one carriage on a packed commuter train where he would not have been able to move, or hear more than a few rows/back forward – if he got a seat – there were a few non English speakers stood/sat next to him for a few stops. Quick, close the Borders, we’re being over-run, it’s an invasion of foreigners … or, it’s being on public transport in any major city in the world, where in those non- English speaking countries the sound of ‘English speaking’ voices would not doubt be the invading foreigners. If this makes Nige feel slightly awkward, I wonder how he copes having a German wife and relatives? I can only guess they’ve never gotten on a train with him and lapsed into German? If they did, the poor man must have been scared shitless.
BUT, Nige makes it clear that “I’m not saying that people on trains should be forced to speak English. That’s a bloody stupid question.” Phew, that’s a relief.
But, don’t worry because Nige is sure that his view – that clearly doesn’t actually stand up to even the most basic scrutiny – “is a view that will be reflected by three quarters of the population, perhaps even more.”
Nigel’s politics are the politics of fear. They’re the politics of blame (although, again to be fair, you could argue that covers most politics). Why look at yourself when there is someone else you can blame for whatever situation you find yourself in.
As a wise departed soul once said we have a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors … close yourselves off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. It is clear through which set of eyes Mr Farage sees the world.