Gregg Morrish reports on the UKIP campaign trail
On arrival at St James Park tube station around 5pm we began following the map towards Marsham Street. As we approached and were about to turn into Marsham Street we heard about 70 or so anti UKIP protesters, holding placards and chanting with the aid of a microphone: “Immigrants stay, UKIP go away” so we knew then we were getting close.
With others we stood on the opposite side of the street and watched for a few minutes, many filming the protestors, then crossed the road and joined the group about to enter the UKIP meeting. Whilst we were in the queue my father was approached by a couple of guys dressed in hoodies and scarves who shouted at him. The police were very quick to respond and removed the protestors.
Once inside the hall we were greeted by several friendly UKIP faces including Steven Woolfe and Lizzie Vaid. We had a quick chat to Steven, and were then directed to have our tickets scanned in order to enter the hall. Fortunately, being early, we managed to get seats close to the front, central to the stage, in fact the fourth row from the front.
The hall was about three quarters full when Steven Woolfe announced that they would have to delay the start of the meeting for around ten minutes, apparently due to the amount of people still trying to get in.
Steven was the first to speak. Amongst others seated on stage were Suzanne Evans and Sarinder Joshua Duroch (author of ‘Enoch, I am a British Indian’). Steven gave a solid performance even though he was briefly interrupted by protesters who had managed to get inside. They started shouting ‘UKIP are fake’ and were quickly dealt with by security, accompanied by much booing from the audience. Steven handled the situation extremely well, saying a few words in return that received a large round of applause.
Sarinder then gave a very impassioned speech, as always straight from the heart and then Suzanne followed with an excellent speech. All three speakers were received very well by the audience with much applause and standing ovations. The atmosphere inside the hall, already quite excited, had started to build.
I was sat next to a gentleman who engaged me in conversation and stated that he was the husband of a Conservative MP, although he declined to name her or her constituency. He confirmed he would be voting UKIP in the Euro Elections but would then revert to voting Tory. However he was often clapping during the speeches.
Lively speeches were given by Amjad Bashir, Winston Mckenzie and several other candidates, including several local London candidates. All the speeches were very well received. The audience front row consisted mainly of press photographers who were constantly turning their cameras round to snap the audience enthusiastically cheering and clapping.
All candidates present were then invited by Steven to come up onto the stage and to great applause from the by now excited crowd, Nigel was next. The audience was getting louder as all present realised it was time for Nigel to make his entry. Steven made the introduction, the door opened, the audience erupted with applause, cheering and a standing ovation.
Nigel, smiling broadly, stood in front of his candidates, many of whom were black, Asian and mixed race, whilst giving a rousing speech. He then threw down a challenge to the media, stating quite emphatically that he did not care what the media called us, he did not care what the other parties called us. “Call us right wing, call us left wing, but please, after tonight do not call us a racist party,” he said
The atmosphere could only be described as electric as everyone stood cheering and applauding. A fantastic evening for all.