Ukip: the Asian and ex-Labour voters who could help party break mould
The party once dismissed by David Cameron as ‘fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists’ is on the march drawing on an ever-widening support base in the runup to local and European elections. Toby Helm andLucy Fisher report.
Seema Takhar does not fit the normal stereotype of a Ukip voter. Nor is she very interested in politics most of the time. But when she hears what Nigel Farage’s party has to say on the subject of immigration, it resonates.
It is midway through a weekday afternoon and Seema is busy dealing with clients in the beauty salon she runs in Havering, east London, when Lawrence Webb, a UK Independence party councillor, drops in with some local election leaflets. “Yes, immigration is a big issue for me here,” she tells him, adding she will now consider voting for Ukip. “When our family came here in the 70s they got no help. We had to work for everything. It is all different now.
“Maany of the immigrants today come and live on benefits and in council homes. Their children will live on benefits too because that is all they know. I don’t think that is right.”
Seema’s mother Renu, who came to the UK in 1973 from Kenya (the family originates from India), walks into the salon and reinforces the message. Renu now works in a post office and says much of her time is spent sending “moneygrams” abroad for immigrants supporting families back home. “A lot of money is made here but is leaving the country. When we made money here it stayed in the UK,” she says.
Webb, who became the first directly elected Ukip councillor in London in a byelection last year, refers loosely to such families as part of the“Windrush generation”. They have been here for two or three generations, he says, have worked hard, done well, are part of the community and now, in many cases, find their children can’t get work and have to compete for houses and places in schools with new immigrants from the EU. The result, says Webb, is that they are now turning for help to Ukip, which wants to end Europe’s open borders policy.