I recently Chaired an Annual General Meeting for the charity that I run, we got through all of the points without much pain, and celebrated with a few glasses of wine once we had completed the meeting. We though we were home and dry, as all of the business had ended, when I was asked to speak to two people who had just entered the room.
"Hello, I'm the Prospective Parliament Candidate for Sunderland Centre for UKIP", now I'm quite lucky enough to have only done two of these meetings and having a PPC candidate want to join in on the meeting was a new experience to me. He asked if he could speak to the members present, the Vice-Chairman sitting next to me nodded politely, clearly not noticing my scowl which said 'do not say yes', he fell in love with the guy after he said "I fully support gay marriage."
That statement got me thinking about the overall party, they're painted as one of the most homophobic, perhaps second to the BNP, although it was a UKIP councillor that said 'the gays caused the floods' in 2013, and also racist, again, perhaps second to the BNP, but is this really the case?
That believe of mine was briefly dismissed having met the North East Media Officer for the party, a gay man himself, but I was quickly reminded of some of the other famous quotes over the last year or so; 'It's a tragedy' that Section 28, which prevented the discussion of homosexuality in schools, said UK member Iain McLaughlan, NIgel Farage it's okay to be homophobic if you're 70 or older, homosexuality 'baffled' one UKIP Councillor in West Yorkshire while John Lyden Sullivan said physical education could 'prevent homosexuality' - Some may be unbelievable, but they're true!
Back to the meeting, the PPC was friendly, approachable and genuinely seemed pleased to speak. As we sat back at the table, my Vice-Chair had realised why I seemed nervous, in attendance at the meeting were a number of LGBT Asylum Seekers, who are not the biggest fans of the UKIP Party.
As the PPC discussed his views of the LGBT Community, all positive, he opened the floor to questions; 'Why did you're leader last week say those with HIV would not be allowed in the country' - I began to panic just a little bit - 'those comments were not the words used' explained the PPC, while his media office pointed out that it was merely to make sure that those with a 'disease' just like 'Ebola' would have to declare it to make sure it did not spread to others. It's wasn't the greatest comparison when addressing a gay charity, and it struck a nerve.
I remember the now famous 'gays caused the floods' comment, having been asked to write a piece for a number of media outlets when it was initially said, I remember countless messages to get The Weather Girls' rendition of 'It's Raining Men' to number 1 in the music chart.
I also remember a recent headline referring to the party as the 'part for the people', it made me note the recent faux-pas of Labour leader Ed Milliband, who kindly donated 10p to a homeless person, which was a truly embarrassing gesture for someone in his position, in 2014 people now believe NIgel Farage's party is for the normal man but between all of the stone-age thinking from some of his Councillors, numerous apologies having to be made by NIgel Farage himself, and the lack of understanding of minority groups, including genetics and the power of sport - I took part in P.E., it had no effect on my sexuality, can we really class the party as being supportive of the average man?Suggest a correction