More new friends: UKIP
Like Antonia and others, I got a friendly e-mail from UKIP asking if I wanted a conversation with them. As it happens, I don't, but only because I've had plenty of opportunities to have conversations with UKIP voters and activists:
In the run up to the last European elections, I was out canvassing for the noble and altruistic cause of trying to get myself re-elected. On one particularly miserable day, I went from door to door to door, speaking to people who had previously voted Labour but now weren't sure because of council tax/the war/immigration/whatever other issue happened to be uppermost in their minds. Towards the end of the evening, I canvassed someone who was actually pleased to see me.
"Oh yes, I think you've done a lot for the area, I do want to vote for you"
Then her brow furrowed.
"The only thing is, the UK Independence people were on the telly earlier, and I agree with what they are saying, so I'm not really sure who I'll end up voting for."
The right thing to do in this situation is to explain about how UKIP are right-wing loons and defend the fine record of Labour MEPs in helping to build a Social Europe which benefits us all. But I'm afraid I didn't do that. Instead what I said was, "You do know that there are two different elections, one for the council and one for what you think about Europe?" This cheered my constituent up, but was still a Bad Thing to do.
At the European election count, the day after the election, a friend decided to try to make friends with some UKIP activists. There was a young man in a sharp suit who was keen to explain that UKIP was unfairly portrayed as a right-wing organisation, and in fact it was open to anyone who didn't agree with a European superstate, and his comrade, a ruddy faced older gentleman wearing a blazer. Ignoring the young man, my friend introduced himself to this gentleman and asked if he could get his views on a couple of issues. Firstly, what did he think of the death penalty.
The old boy's face lit up, as he explained that obviously it should only be used for very serious crimes, but that, yes, he thought that reintroducing the death penalty was an excellent idea.
And what of school discipline, my friend enquired. Would giving teachers the right to cane naughty children help correct the bad manners which so many young people showed. Again, the man from UKIP agreed that he did indeed think that this was the case.
Just as my friend was about to ask about his views on a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, the younger man finally decided that there had been enough conversation and ushered his fellow activist away.
So, you see, they don't really want a proper conversation about important issues of social concern - they're just like all those other lying politicians.