In 1968, my father then training to be an accountant and working for the NHS went to a pub with some of his English colleagues whereupon he met with his local MP and an exchange ensued.
This MP was Enoch Powell and the encounter was soon after his Rivers of Blood speech, the content of which traded on the fears and insecurities of the electorate by demonising selected minorities for political advantage. Immigration!
This was a populist and sometimes right-wing campaign strategy, it is not new, and today we see the same elements of demonising minorities all around the world for political capital.
Be it minors, womenfolk, the poor, the different by race, tribe, religion, custom, beliefs or sexuality, the disabled, the powerless or the voiceless, some opportunistic politician has found something to excite the basest of our instincts to garner votes.
In this general election season in the UK, the leader of the UK Independence Party in debates decided to aim the crosshairs at refugees with HIV he falsely claims costs the NHS £25,000 for treatment.
This is sensationalist bunkum, but it gave impetus to a malevolent listener to this reprehensible invective to take the picture of an innocent man and make him the face and person of Nigel Farage's rotten lies.
It’s about real people
Bisi Alimi, whose story we know as the first Nigerian to come out on national television, who suffered personal and institutional persecution then had to flee Nigeria narrowly escaping death was the target of the atrocious besmirching.
We granted refugee status to Bisi Alimi and he has been of the most exemplary conduct, contributed immensely to the cause of LGBTI minorities and many human rights issues all around the world. If he remained a refugee, he is one we want amongst us as an inspirational figure and more, but Bisi does have a British passport, he is not a refugee.
However, that is beside the point, this attack was aimed at those who have sought refuge in our country with the devilish intent of persuading us to put cost above our humanity. That has been the bottom-line of the UKIP agenda, making cost the issue at the expense of our greater humanity and tendency to compassion.
The heart of who we are
When people come to the UK seeking refuge on humanitarian grounds, we have had a tradition of welcoming them and helping them thrive in our communities and society. This has been the case for centuries and long may we continue to set the standard for compassionate relief and humanitarian consideration.
The personal attack on Bisi Alimi was not only contemptible but completely unrepresentative of who we are. Yet we must know that this campaign strategy is shocking and awful, one trading on our fears to put wedges of division and difference within our communities.
Nigel Farage is a canny politician and he knew what he was doing by sowing seeds of suspicion and anger in the hope that some amongst us might act unconscionably and irrationally, along with his intention of shoring up support for electioneering purposes. We must repudiate this kind of talk completely.
Taking the fight to Nigel
However, under the auspices of the Thanet Trade Union Action, the irrepressible Bisi Alimi is taking the fight to Nigel Farage in the constituency where he is contesting to be the local MP and you are invited to Meet Farage's Tourist.
My hope is by the time Bisi Alimi has finished speaking we would see Nigel Farage for who he is and give him and his kind of populist rhetoric the heave-ho.
Nigel Farage is not the face of our hearts and minds, I believe Bisi Alimi more represents who we are and the example we want to better be to the world - open, empathetic, considerate, helpful, fair, just and truly British.
Please attend if you can and share with your friends.
Meet Farage’s Tourist
Thursday 30 April at 19:00–21:00
Odd Fellows Hall,
142 High Street,