In the thought that you would be interested here’s my take on the Bath promo-truck event which took place today [Ed: Saturday 29th September 2018]. There’s some good news and some really bad news to report. I don’t have Gerard Batten’s direct email address but I will DM him via Twitter as I think he should be aware.
This was a huge undertaking for UKIP Bath & North East Somerset Branch. We have never done anything as ambitious in the City of Bath before. We were very careful not to give it advance publicity, as we all recognised that Bath is “enemy” territory. By that, we thought the “enemy” meant LibDems and Bath for Europe, but not so – read on.
I met the truck outside the city centre at 9AM (as arranged). At the same time the team met in Kingsmead Square to set up the stall. There were around 30 kippers present from our own branch and from other local branches such as Yeovil, Wells, Somerton and Frome, Salisbury, Bristol, Stroud and others. Excellent turnout, and greatly appreciated.
The truck started off as arranged but the stall immediately encountered problems. There was a competing children’s event. Its organiser claimed he had exclusive use of Kingsmead Square and wanted us out. We faced offensive comments from his people like “how can UKIP be so insensitive as to put ourselves in front of children”. He threatened to call the police and council to remove us from the square.
We stood our ground and exhibited written permission from Bath & North East Somerset Council giving us permission to use the pitch and to play music. The police arrived, but quite rightly said it was not a police matter but a council matter. In the end (as the council offices were closed) we made peace with the other event organiser, and agreed to distance ourselves slightly from his area and to soften our music.
Despite this; sadly, one of the other event’s team (who apparently hated UKIP with venom) fired off like a loose cannon and tried to tape off our area to prevent anyone entering it. Although this raised tempers on our side, we spoke to the other event organiser who fortunately cooperated to remove his rogue team member from our area. At all times we urged our own members to take the line that we were not there to cause trouble.
Throughout the day we had more positive interest than we expected. Some new members signed up (pity they were from outside our own patch). We received a good donation, and people came up and talked sensibly about Brexit and other issues.
After this; a group of left-wing protestors turned up and positioned themselves right in front of our stall displaying a huge anti-Jacob Rees-Mogg banner. (We don’t know if they came because we were there or whether they would have come regardless). It mattered not one jot to them that Jacob is MP for North East Somerset and not MP for Bath!
Things got really out of hand around 2PM when we started to encounter trouble from punk-style anarchists. We expected opposition from the blue beret brigade or Bath LibDems, but we didn’t see either. We didn’t bargain for the sort of anarchist hatred we actually encountered.
One purple haired female (untypical of Bath) barged into our stand, grabbed large numbers of our leaflets and threw them into the waste bin. Although we had around 30 UKIP members present everyone went straight for the female, but when we turned round we found our UKIP flag and pop-up banners totally ruined and daubed with spray paint:
Obviously, the female was a (professional) distraction. We had to take them down, which was doubtless the intention. Nobody saw the paint sprayer and it all happened very quickly. This moment of anarchy caused around £115 of irreparable damage.
In view of the hostility we were encountering, Philip Evans, Branch Chairman gave everyone the chance to pack up early. I am pleased to say that not one Kipper agreed to move. To a “man”, (to coin a phrase) we all refused to be hounded out or to be silenced. Although some of our signage was wrecked, nobody was hurt and everyone present agreed to stand firm.
Things then took a turn for the worse.
Up to that time the truck had been circulating around Bath without problems, broadcasting our message of hope for an independent future, but not causing any trouble. However just after 2 PM the truck moved into our patch in Kingsmead Square, which is very narrow and partially closed off for the other event.
A group of anarchists then decided to stand in the road in front of the truck which hemmed it in. While it couldn’t move, the “paint sprayer” attacked both sides of the truck with his spray can, completely ruining both side panels. He sprayed offensive terms such as “racists” and “scum”.
Phil Evans took the decision to send the truck back to London, as we could not allow it to be seen again in that condition. Sadly, at this point we have to concede, that the anarchists won. They successfully shut down our costly event. Clearly, that was exactly what they intended. This high-profile event, made possible only by donations from generous UKIP members, was ruined at a stroke.
Even then, no Kippers would agree to close our table and we continued campaigning until our planned finishing time.
Philip Evans reported the criminal damage to the police and Phil holds an incident number. Brian Cooke has a video of the stall and a visual record of the damage. He also has a clear image of the perpetrator. This will be pursued. [Ed: we will publish the video of the stall and the damage as soon as we receive it.]
Our flags and banner can be replaced but we don’t know wat will happen regarding the truck. The panels definitely won’t be useable. We don’t know who owns them (we just rented them) or if they are insured. Can Russell Hicks comment on this?
Lessons to be learned for future events: don’t let the truck get hemmed in, keep it on the open road. Bath has narrow streets and lent itself to unexpected sabotage. Also, don’t take valuable material like pop-up banners on to street stalls. Use cheap, replaceable material like correx boards.
Brian Cooke said:
“Despite all the difficulties I think the day went really well and I like to think we made an impression today. ………. To think it has toured London & other places without incident and gets trashed in Bath! What does that say about the rabble from Bath”.
There may have been other incidents that I didn’t see or may have forgotten, but I have lived in Bath & North East Somerset for 30 years and always thought of Bath as a nice quiet City but have not seen anything like this happen before in the entire time I have lived here.
UKIP WILL OVERCOME IN BATH & NORTH EAST SOMERSET!
Steve Grimes, Branch Secretary, UKIP Bath & North East Somerset Branch