I went to the UKIP youth conference and it was terrifying
Believe the hype
Last week the youth-wing of UKIP, the Young Independence party, came to Nottingham’s Albert Hall to discuss their hatred of the European Union, migrants at Calais and to revel in the attendance of their supreme leader, Nigel Farage.
I was lucky enough to not only film parts of the event, but meet with the notorious man himself, and the whole experience was nothing short of terrifying.
Although the conference was aimed towards the youth of the party, it was mostly older members, either disenfranchised voters who have been politically re-energised by UKIP, or attendees parents who had requested supervision.
It’s important when reporting on political events to be even handed and balanced, but the problem with UKIP, was that every stereotype about the party is so bloody bang on. The only minority person at the event was outside of the event hall working the door. The scatterings of women who were present were conservatively dressed, and perfectly well-mannered but with a glare in their eyes that they would kill a man if required.
But the young men at the event, were quite a sight, and came in two groups. Group A, the Alphas, were nothing short of remarkable. They saw themselves as the future leaders of not only the party, but of the country and possibly the wider galaxy. Immaculate hairstyles, well-fitting suits and wonderfully ironed shirts. Worryingly driven, they were like less fascist Mormons. Group B on the other hand were your social outcasts, pushed out of normal society, who have never questioned the world we live in and are simply swept up in the UKIP tsunami.
While there was a sense of appreciation in the air, the crowd were somewhat more relaxed than I expected. No yards of ale were being drank, and no songs were being sung about stricter immigration policies.
But the pièce de résistance was the brief appearance by Nigel Farage. Standing in the corner of the room I felt I knew what it must be like to see Kim Jong Un speak to his followers. His main focus was the upcoming referendum on the UK staying a part of the EU, which surprisingly, he isn’t a fan of. He held a comically large cheque for £150 billion from the UK taxpayer, showing how much we pay to be a part of the union.
Something else of note at the event, that was never really explained, was the fact that the projector showed a map of wales, with the line ‘UKIP 2016, Believe in Wales’.
It seems that UKIP’s latest strategy for Nottingham is to not only leave the European Union, but England as well.
After King Nigel descended from his throne I managed to run through a side door, where I and a local newspaper columnist cornered him for some questions. I was briefed to keep my questions based on the Nottingham/ Midlands area, while the newspaper reporter went full HAM on Nigel, asking about eggs being thrown in his face, millions fleeing the conflict in Syria and his wife being a German national.
And then came my turn. He looked me deep in the eyes, albeit at a 45% angle as I am a good eight inches taller than him, which did kill some of the romance. But I was swept up nonetheless. I thought back to all the appearances he had had over the last few years building up to the election. Here I was, talking one of the most well-known men in British Politics outside the main two parties, and I was shaking like a little lamb, calling him Mr Farage.
As I was setting up, I said the classic line to show that I was a real journalist, not just some 4-year-old kid on work experience; “If you could look at me and not the camera”. He looked at me, with a spine-tingling stare as if to say “I’ve done more interviews than you’ve had fucking hot dinners, I know not to do a monologue to camera you lanky moron”.
My questions were fairly straight forward, “tell us about the event today”, “how important is the midlands to the success of your party” that sort of thing, but when I asked him why he chose Nottingham for the venue, it got a bit sinister he said “Oh look, I’m just the leader, I’m not the organiser,” before giving a nervous laugh that sent more shivers through me than polystyrene on a blackboard. The sort of laugh that usually comes with a high backed leather chair and a white cat. He gave off a powerful aura, feeling much more than a charming lunatic with baccy-stained fingers. He’s a calculated political mind.
When I had finished talking to Mr. Farage, one of the selfie-hungry, brain-washed organisers told me they had selected Nottingham because it was not only in “the heart of England”, but “Nottingham is a great night out”.
So while talking to King Nigel was an interesting experience, I think getting hammered with some outcasts and semi-mormons that aren’t keen on Europe would be a much more memorable experience.