Custom Search 1

Meet the Black Brits backing UKIP

ANGER: UKIP candidate Winston McKenzie believes Polish immigrants are denying opportunities for black Britons

WINSTON MCKENZIE, UKIP’s first black member, who accuses Tony Blair of “disenfranchising the black community” and “flooding the country with Eastern Europeans”, remains adamant that “there’s enough of them here. I don’t want to see any more. They get preferential treatment in housing, schooling and the NHS”.

He was asked whether he’d encourage some of the half a million Poles in the UK to go back to Poland.
“Yes I would,” McKenzie replies. “If it meant that black people were going to get a better deal in this country and the opportunities they deserve, yes I would offer some Polish people incentives to go back if they wanted to.”

McKenzie, a former lightweight boxer, famous for having joined every political party in Britain, was born in Clarendon, Jamaica in 1956. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that from his accent which is very much south London. He’s lived in Croydon since the age of five and is contesting the Croydon North seat. “The dump of all Croydon,” he calls it.

POPULATION

The anger in McKenzie is palpable but, of course, he doesn’t consider himself racist. Just “disillusioned and dismayed with the way the black and ethnic indigenous population have been treated”. His use of the word indigenous, meaning to occur naturally in a place, is interesting.

When he says he wants Britain to leave the EU and that black people have nothing in common with Europeans. When this Voice reporter tells McKenzie that his sisters are half-Jamaican and half-Polish, the UKIP politician replies: “There are lots of Polish people involved in UKIP. Polish people don’t want to see any further influx of Poles coming into this country. They’re trying to make a life for themselves.”

It sounds ludicrous but bizarrely, in Tooting, UKIP even has a Polish representative, Przemek Skwirczynski.

When I speak to Ace Nnorom, UKIP’s Vauxhall candidate, he says Skwirczynski did an MBA at the London School of Economics.

Nnorom is himself a business graduate and has just completed his PhD about world trade laws and how the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva assesses unilateral trade agreements and identifies discriminatory policies under the non-favoured nations clause.


STAUNCH SUPPORTER: Ace Nnorom, (right) UKIP’s Vauxhall candidate will stand against Labour’s Kate Hoey

Nnorom is in the upper echelons of UKIP’s intellectual ranks, although occasionally he’s difficult to understand because of his heavy accent. Born in Cameroon to Nigerian parents, Nnorom has only been in Britain since 2001.

So why doesn’t Nnorom want other migrants coming to Britain, the country that welcomed him and his family?

ACCOMMODATE

“You can’t have a country hosting people it can’t take care of,” he says. “It’s like if you have a party and you know your house can accommodate 80 people and you then put it on Facebook and say it’s a free-for-all. Four thousand people would come and your house would be trashed.”

The Cameroonian became fascinated with Nigel Farage after hearing him speak at the European Forum. Gradually he drifted away from the Labour party, which he had joined through the unions.

When David Miliband failed to win the leadership – a campaign that Nnorom helped organise – he became disenchanted with the party.

He agrees with UKIP’s manifesto pledge to leave the EU and trade with the world. Like most UKIP people he was fine with the idea of the EU when it included Western European nations but became sceptical when the economic zone was expanded to include poorer countries to the east and south.


LOCAL CAMPAIGNER: Neville Watson was called a ‘coconut’

“No one is saying that Polish and Romanians and Bulgarians should not come into the country,” says Nnorom (although his colleague McKenzie appears to disagree). “But we have black and ethnic minority community members working in unskilled labour like security, cleaning, hospital assistants, struggling to make ends meet. What do British citizens think when people from the EU with these skills are coming to the UK? Shouldn’t the country protect its own?” (And by ‘its own’, Nnorom means people like him.)

When asked what would have become of him if the UK had refused to allow him to settle here he says: “I’m now a UK citizen and that’s the most important thing. It’s like this: if my house was on fire, it wouldn’t concern you very much. But if you decided to come and stay in my house and the house caught fire you would be very concerned wouldn’t you?”

It sounds like another pre-rehearsed metaphor but Nnorom seems generally sincere, even if he’s misguided. He’s committed enough to UKIP’s cause that he raised the £500 deposit himself. Well, he borrowed it off a branch member in Lambeth. If he wins more than 5 per cent of the vote the money gets refunded to the branch.

MAJORITY

Will he win five per cent?

“I hope to win the seat!” he says, somewhat optimistically. Kate Hoey has safely held Vauxhall since 1989 and has a majority of 11,000.

Edmonton in north London is as ethnically diverse as Vauxhall and equally unlikely to see many votes for UKIP. But that doesn’t seem to deter Neville Watson.

“Only history will tell if UKIP are racist or whether they were just highlighting a truth,” Watson tells The Voice.

He knows about racism. He was born here after his parents settled in Stoke Newington in 1954. He remembers the ‘No blacks, No Irish, No dogs’ signs. He experienced racism in his non-league football career with Leytonstone, Barking and Barnet and before that as an apprentice at West Ham.

“Skinheads were rampant,” recalls Watson. “And I’ve no doubt my father encountered racism at the brewery [Watney Combe and Reid where his father worked]. I played at places like Tilbury and Aveley.

Running out of the tunnel the song was: ‘N***er, n***er, n***er. Oi, oi, oi.’ I remember the banana skins being thrown at me and the spitting and the names I was called by the opposition.”

It’s put to him that the right wing politicians of that time played on the racist fears of the white working class in a similar way to what UKIP is doing today.

“UKIP isn’t about stopping eastern European immigration,” he responds. “My next door neighbours are Polish. It’s about controls. I don’t think we have too much immigration but we need immigration to fit the higher ideals of this country. We have Turkey trying to join the EU. Think about what could happen. Millions could come.”

It’s Farage-style rhetoric writ large. He knows millions won’t come, everybody knows it. But UKIP types still say it anyway.

Watson says he also experienced racism from within the Labour party, who he stood for in 2001.

“It hurt me. I came to Labour bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I have pictures of me and Gordon Brown. I encountered racism at a party conference in Birmingham. I didn’t expect that.”

WORK

Watson knows his local area; he lives in Tottenham. He knows Polish labourers wait outside Wickes on Seven Sisters Rd for building work. “They’ll do a day’s work for cheaper than black builders,” he points out but adds that he won’t use this as a negative campaigning tool.

Instead, he’s campaigning to bring back grammar schools, abolish hospital parking charges and to introduce the right of recall so constituents can kick out under-performing MPs.

The initial reaction of black people in the local community was “you’re a coconut,” he says. But when he went back to Lincoln’s Patisserie, a Caribbean bakery in Edmonton Green, a Jamaican man approached him.

Watson puts on a thick patois accent as he recounts what the man said. “Dem no racist. Dem a talk the truth. Now I understand.”

He thinks there was “an element of tokenism” in UKIP’s early days but his first aim after May 7th is to set up a black section in UKIP, just as the Labour party did back in the 1980s.

Like Watson, McKenzie and Nnorom, UKIP’s candidate in Hornsey and Wood Green, Clive Morrison, is also a former Labour man. He’s also an immigrant.

“I came here in ’69,” he says. “I arrived on the 24th of December. When I woke up it was Christmas. The weather was predictable. Winters were winters back then.”

Like many of his generation, his parents came six years before him to pave the way.

“I didn’t have a choice. I think if I was given the choice I would have simply turned back.”


FORMER LABOUR SUPPORTER: Clive Morrison denies that UKIP is racist

But now he feels fully British and he’s worried that black people in certain areas of London are becoming a minority again because of eastern European migrants who he feels are more racist than white Brits.

During the interview, reggae music begins playing over the PA of the pub. Does he not think the Poles’ cultural output will benefit Britain in the same way Jamaica’s did? “Maybe in 20 years’ time,” he says.

And what about the UKIP party member filmed by the BBC saying she didn’t like people with “negroid features”?

“We need to realise that these people are in every party,” he replies.

It’s a depressing thought and perhaps it’s true. But does that really mean UKIP is the answer for black British politicians?

Or are they simply looking for a platform, any platform, from which they might be heard?

Facebook Comments