Never Judge a Book By Its Cover – A Hampstead Town Brexit Stall
Claudia Winkleman, Frank Skinner, Bill Oddie and Amanda Platell… was I at Strictly Come Dancing? No, it was our Brexit/Membership Stall in Hampstead last Saturday, 13th October.
We arranged it nervously – we hadn’t done a Branch one for a while, and Hampstead is notoriously Luvvie Land – surely part of the Liberal Elite? But research indicated it was one of the only 2 Tory wards in our 2 boroughs – and it is Tories who have been joining UKIP so…off we set!
We set up opposite Hampstead Heath station and braced, ready for abuse. Sure enough there were some ’You’ve got to be kidding me!’s and some ‘Hauuugh!’ huffing sounds but not half as aggressive as some places. Many gilded elite swanned past holding their noses and sneering. But quite a few people stopped to chat whether agreeing or not.
A lovely lady who started life in an Essex council house, did well, and moved to Hampstead told us she was shocked at the attitude of her neighbours towards Brexit. We chatted… I myself was born in Hampstead and so determinedly leafleted it before the referendum, so I knew that although the majority were probably Remainers, quite a few opened their doors to say they were glad to see us and were voting Brexit.
Not everyone in Hampstead is wealthy, the luvvies are inclined to forget that.
A lovely older cockney lady told me ‘Good on you girl! Good luck!’. Everyone uses the Heath, next to where we were, whether from the council flats or the mansions. Hampstead is the area where rich celebrities like Emma Thompson campaigned against Tesco’s (and McDonalds), essentially banning poorer people from shopping locally.
So, back to our celebrities who shimmied past. Bill Oddie looked unwell, and ignored us (A Remainer anyway). Frank Skinner (another huge Remainer – who cares!) blanked us. I offered Claudia Winkleman (tiny, orange faced and trademark white lipstick) a leaflet before realising who she was, she flicked an eyelash at it, looked irritated, and carried on walking. But Amanda Plattell – a very different story! Dressed casually, she stopped for a chat, saying it was great to see us out. She fully understood and supported the argument for Brexit. She explained she was a Tory and had just been to the conference, but was very supportive of UKIP and Brexit. Our Tom WS, an ex Tory himself, asked her to join us, to which she just smiled. A lovely lady and a breath of fresh air.
Next up was a chap who said he was getting a Portuguese passport because of Brexit. Why? He said for business reasons. Really? He calmed down and began chatting. After a while he seemed to like us and even handed out a couple of leaflets!
Now UKIP seems to me to be quite pro Israel. But we were approached by some Orthodox Jewish chaps who informed us they did not support Brexit as it was an anti-Zionist conspiracy between UKIP and Labour… !
London UKIP has many Jewish members who are very active, so I was surprised. Nonetheless, they were polite and Chris, Andrew and Tom did their best to reassure them.
Why are you handing that to me – cant you see my skin colour?!… He shocked me! What? UKIP is racist! I retorted: ‘I am not a racist and I wouldnt be a member if UKIP was’. He looked embarrassed and apologised. He was British born and mixed race – how do people get these ideas? The media! I proffered our manifesto and asked him to find something racist in it. But he had changed his tune and stayed to chat. Brexit? He could see the benefits.
A productive and busy morning. More people than we expected supported Brexit, many saying they were surprised to see us considering the attitude of many in the area, but were happy we were there as it would help others to be open about supporting leaving the EU.
Apart from the sneering luvvies who are too self absorbed to have any real opinion other than that of the Beeb, most who stopped just wanted reassurance it was going to be OK….
Yes, it will, just hold firm and don’t lose our nerve! Are you listening Mrs May?
[Photos by Janice North]