Farage: 'Do Not Ever Call us a Racist Party'
The media is already trying to downplay it: last night's UKIP rally in London was raucous, glorious, and dare I say... electric. Even a lot of the hecklers in the room left without saying a word – such was the impact. UKIP promised a political earthquake in the UK on May 22nd. It delivered an earthquake in London last night.
Speaking to a capacity crowd at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster, speaker after speaker took the main UKIP platform tonight to issue a plea. It was simple, but it wasn't patronising. It was specific, but it wasn't quota-orientated. Tonight, UKIP was out to prove that it wasn't a racist party.
The audience, it must be reported, was still predominantly white, and older. But as Nigel Farage said during his speech, today was UKIP's Clause Four moment, as in amongst the rows of expected UKIP supporters were dotted many younger faces, many more brown faces, black faces, female faces. The 2011 census showed that London was 60 percent white, 18 percent Asian, 13 percent Black, 5 percent mixed, and 3 percent 'other'. Last night's London audience was not far away from being perfectly that.
And Farage was not even the star of the show, not by a long shot. He joked himself about feeling like the supporting act.
Steven Wolfe, Suzanne Evans, Amjad Bashir, the house-rocking former boxer Winston McKenzie, and more. These crowd-pleasers of ethnic extraction grabbed the last remaining weapon of UKIP's opponents and proceeded to do with it what Average Joe's did to Globo-Gym in the cult classic film Dodgeball: smack them around.
Lulled into a false sense of security over its one and only attack line life, the political and media establishments have been digging up stories for weeks on UKIP candidates. Some have some terrible things, others have inadvertently taken the opposition bait. Last night's line-up of speakers were tasked with one job: crush the myth.
In the beginning there was Steven Wolfe, who after being heckled by protestors issued a warning about how such people, mainly from the Socialist Worker Party, called him a "fake" and a "racist". He responded emotionally telling the crowd how he himself was "called a n***er at the age of 5 years old". Wolfe did not censor his own comments to the room, and was met with applause for his handling of the situation.
Paula McQueen, a London-born grandmother of Jewish and Black extraction told the crowd, "We are libertarians, we believe in individual freedom, and we want the government to interfere less in people's lives."
Evans quoted Thatcher to great cheers from the crowd: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”
But the real star of the show was Winston McKenzie, the former champion boxer who took to the stage and almost shouted his way through an entire 10 minute speech. He had the crowd in hysterics with his jokes, and wolf-whistling at his key line: "I'm black and I'm proud and I shout it out loud!"
"Why is it only at election time that we get this [racist] nonsense?"
McKenzie tore into David Cameron, Ed Miliband, and Nick Clegg, "The three little pigs... are running scared!"
"I'm tired of seeing these tragedies", McKenzie said, holding up a newspaper front page showing one of London's latest victims of knife crime – a young boy. "Didn't [Boris] Johnson say knife crime and gun crime were his priorities?"
Farage was even somewhat of an after thought considering the gravitas of the earlier speakers. He delivered his stump speech, crediting Nick Clegg with UKIP's ascendency, and blaming "a bunch of college kids... who have never done a day's work in their lives" for running and ruining the country.
"Huge sections in the mainstream media defended their friends in the so-called 'main parties' or as we prefer to call them, the legacy parties.
"I don't care what you call us," he said, "You can call us right wing, left wing, you can call us small-minded, I don't care what you call us. But from this moment on, please, do not ever call us a racist party. We are not a racist party".
Outside the event, protesters from the Socialist Worker Party and other hard-Left organisations gathered in their dozens, shouting, "UKIP, No Way! Immigrants, here to stay!" Various protesters abused those queuing to get into the UKIP event, with one man calling this reporter, "a faggot" for wearing a pink shirt.
Raheem Kassam tweets at @RaheemJKassam