Kilburn… we did well there during the Referendum Campaign. The Edgware Road straddles both of our boroughs – Brent and Camden – one on each side – and gets a lot of visibility from buses, taxis and nonstop traffic. Plenty of pedestrians too – we got a lot of interest in Brexit (and a new member) from the market back then – plus some market stalls had put out Brexit leaflets for us. And a shop had put Brexit leaflets in every carrier bag they gave out! So, it felt important to head back there now that the government are messing with Brexit… I wondered if the other regulars were still coming here – the black gospel Christian singers, the Labour party, the Muslim preachers…either way, we were first to set up.
We weren’t disappointed… as we hung up our Union Jack flag people came over for leaflets. Early on we had an Irish chap who was a regular at Speakers Corner, going every week to argue with the Muslim preachers who seem to dominate there. He was very pro Brexit, used to vote Labour, but had long abandoned them. Not keen on joining any political party, he preferred to fight Islamification. He chatted for a while though. In fact, quite a few Christians stopped to tell us they thought the whole delaying of Brexit was disgraceful and completely ‘unchristian’ – and they were praying for a good outcome.
Just thinking we’d got off to a good start I suddenly heard loudly in my ear ‘Load of cr*p!’ – I spun round to see – yes, you’ve guessed it – a lovely member of our white English liberal elite hurrying past me. How articulate …. And so brave! We also had the odd leaflet chucked on the ground, but not too many. And of course, the occasional sneer – all from white English I’m sad to say…
Many were just interested in what we had to say about Brexit and how it was going. They also had gripes about the way the country was going, the overcrowding, the infrastructure and the treatment of ordinary people, much the same conversations we had during the referendum. The back of Kilburn has some very expensive houses, but the majority walking along Kilburn High Road are ‘working class’. It was once a very Irish area, and a lot of the older Irish stopped to chat. Having been here longer than they ever lived in Ireland they said they love Britain, it is their home, and they want what is best for it. They do not agree with people coming here and not feeling that way too – being dismayed by some of the attitudes of ‘newcomers’, many who have taken jobs that were once filled by Irish people.
Amongst the Black population who stopped feelings were mixed – some felt Brexit was a racist vote, no matter how much we tried to reassure them. Others were pro Brexit, but sadly one or two felt it wasn’t worth worrying about as black people still had no real say in the matter …. Well you won’t have a say if you don’t vote of course!
We headed into the market to see if anyone we used to chat to was still there. A lovely Caribbean stallholder was – 100% pro Brexit, and very disappointed with the government. Also, a committed Christian, he said he would be joining the gospel singers later on too. We found a new Caribbean café at the back – I showed a lady our leaflet – ‘Brexit betrayal? Yep! Just about how I feel’ she said… we gave her some leaflets and bought some teas for the ’gang’. Contrary to all the sneers and aggression in some places, when in more working-class areas – and with small businesses – I find there is an acceptance of UKIP’s ideas and of open debate about Brexit . Why? Because we are talking to people who are really affected by what happens. It seems small businesses are pro Brexit even if global brands never stop complaining about it!
After lunch, the Muslim preachers, looking for conversions, turned up but no longer dressing in long white robes. They are also the main reason the Christian gospel choir sings there. Even later (as usual), Labour finally turned up. I recognised their leader – dressed like Karl Marx, including tiny beard, they had also stuck up some horrible signs trying to stir it up again about the treatment of the Windrush generation – creating hate being their specialisation! Oh well, we just got on with keeping the Brexit message strong and positive.
We had a good turnout, even a member of the Putney branch (thank you!). Chris, Frances, Tom, Andrew, David, Eugene and I were frozen like ice after a few busy hours, but it was worth it. Kilburn High Road, like everywhere, is changing – poor people are being pushed out of social housing and looked fed up. And I noticed the same dodgy broken drain at the bus stop still not fixed (Brent council!) It was hard to find anywhere selling poppies due to cultural changes… (although Frances was asked to help pin one or two on!) but it is still full of character and we set a good example of UKIP – our stall was lively, cheerful and never short of visitors – we had fun! I love Kilburn, standing for election there I got to know the area well.
We had done our bit for today, even issuing a couple of invites to branch meetings, and now it was time to check out a cosy Kilburn pub….!