Friday 27-02-2015 - 17:09
In September 2014 the International Students’ Campaign with the Black Students’ Campaign alongside members of the public, young and old, demonstrated at UKIP’s annual conference in Doncaster to take a stand against UKIP and their bigotry.
This Saturday we will again unite as Campaigns and with the community in a diverse and vibrant protest at their Spring conference in Margate, Kent, where they will be launching their campaign for the General Election.
UKIP enjoyed some electoral success in 2014, securing their first MP seats as well as MEPs for the European Parliament. These successes have increased the party’s confidence and as we edge towards the General Election, we can undoubtedly look forward to an electoral campaign dominated by xenophobia and scaremongering, with the party influencing the political agenda in the same parasitic manner with which they have built support over the past few years.
Whilst the prospect of more – or any – UKIP MPs representing us post-election is repulsive, the greatest threat presented by UKIP lies in their ability to push the popular political discourse ever further against migrants, normalising right-wing, nationalist and classically racist politics underneath a veneer of populism, even without their members in power.Their ability to manufacture public support for their policies is turning the climate even more toxic for migrants, including international and Black students, to the serious detriment of their wellbeing and safety. The party is responsible for propagating lies and falsehoods about migrants for electoral gain, all the while including in their number members and representatives like their former prominent councillor in Thanet South, Rozanne Duncan who was filmed on BBC documentary Meet the Ukippers saying that she dislikes people who have “negroid features”, although she was “no racist”.
By no means does this absolve the other mainstream political parties of their role in the current ‘race to the bottom’ that has developed around issues of migration in the run up to elections, and the unprecedented crackdown on immigrants and migrant freedoms.
They should be held fully accountable and condemned unreservedly for their long history of upholding racist structures, exploiting migrants, systematically subjugating Black people and providing a political home for criminals and warmongers.
But by actively opposing UKIP on Saturday, we are targeting - through grassroots action with people and public - the acceptable face of racism and far-right politics that seeks to draw the public towards anti-migrant hysteria, by puncturing their populist façade and exposing their bigoted policies for the people to see.
We aim to signal to all parties that an electoral agenda built around the scapegoating of society’s most vulnerable will not be acceptable – we will not stand for politicking with our people’s oppression.
In protesting the UKIP conference we will show that it cannot be business as usual with cynical opportunists seeking to divide and conquer, and that we will not allow for the normalisation of old-school racism, sexism and bigotry in the political sphere.
It will be a message to the media, who are complicit in UKIP’s rise in mainstreaming their politics and inflating their profile for sales and attention.
And finally, it will be a stand in defence of migrants, who have contributed so much to the UK in ways that cannot possibly be quantified, but who are only deemed worthy by the political establishment insofar as their economic value or their capacity for menial labour – we reiterate our stance for open borders and the free movement of people, as people – not objects of exploitation.We hope you share our sentiments, and we hope to see many of you there on Saturday alongside us in Margate saying no to UKIP.
Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer
Shreya Paudel, NUS International Students’ Officer
Piers Telemacque, NUS Vice President Society and Citizenship