A considerable amount is written by the left and right about Ukip, its views, its policies and its people.
We are often accused being little Englanders and against immigration per se. We are not. We would happily welcome the brightest and best from around the world, regardless of country, religion or race, but we would not welcome those whose own countries would benefit from their brightest and best staying at home to help build them out of poverty.
Here is a poignant piece by Ukip's deputy leader, Paul Nuttall who recently visited Bulgaria.
Bulgaria: My Experience
On 1 January next year, all restrictions on the movement of Bulgarians and Romanians in the EU will be lifted. This means that under EU 'freedom of movement' rules, 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians will be free to come to the UK to work or claim benefits. There are already a 100,000 Bulgarians and Romanians living in the UK. We also know that the British government commissioned an investigation into how many Bulgarians and Romanians were likely to arrive after the restrictions are lifted. Worryingly, the report has been buried and none of the cabinet is willing to discuss figures. Thus, people are drawing their own conclusions.
I recently visited the Bulgarian capital of Sofia on a fact finding mission. What I found was a handsome city with some beautiful architecture surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The people were friendly and English was widely spoken, especially amongst the young. On the face of it, it seemed to be a run-of-the-mill bustling and vibrant European capital city. However, once the surface was scratched, things were rather different. The word on everybody's lips was 'corruption.' Bulgaria has three times the amount of corruption than the EU average. Indeed, the Centre for the Study of Democracy believes that 150,000 bribes take place in Bulgaria every month. The vast majority of people pointed the finger directly at the recently departed government of Byoko Borisov and his party GERB.
My visit to the city had caused a bit of a sensation in the Bulgarian press. I was billed as an anti-Bulgarian MEP who hated the country and the Bulgarian people. I thought this was slightly odd as I had never uttered a word about the country or its people. It turns out that the hysteria was being fed by the Bulgarian Far Right which was determined to make political mileage out of attacking me personally and my visit as a whole. The stormed my press conference, called for me to be deported and held a protest outside the British Embassy, thus forcing it to close for half a day. I concluded that it was more about political posturing on their part, rather than wanting to engage in any serious debate.
The point I was trying make, and did so successfully I believe, is that mass migration from Bulgaria to the UK is as bad Bulgaria as much as is it is for the UK, for I firmly believe that the people who will leave Bulgaria will be the young, educated and qualified. These youngsters, many of them fresh from university, will travel West in search of a better life, and they cannot be blamed for that. However, what they will encounter is a country where 21% of its own youth are unemployed, and quite frankly, the jobs are not there. Thus, if they opt to stay one of two things will happen: either they will resort to claiming benefits or more likely, knowing the fantastic Eastern European work ethic, end up working in a café, bar or restaurant. I suggested live on Bulgarian national TV, that these are the people that Bulgaria needs to keep within its own borders: the future accountants, lawyers and teachers who can change Bulgaria, root out corruption and get its flat-lined economy kick-started.
One experience of my trip shocked me most: my visit to Sofia's largest Romani site. The district of Fakuteta contains around 50,000 people living in a square mile. It looked like a South African shanty town and I could well imagine I was on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The fact that somewhere like this existed in an EU state appalled me. The children were malnourished and living in dirt, the rain was seeping through the ceilings of their homes and the streets mud baths, probably awash with human excrement. What amazed me was that some of the Bulgarian camera crew and reporters did not know that this place even existed. To me, this simply emphasised just how much the Romani are cut off from mainstream society in Bulgaria. I ventured to make the point that these people could not even afford to make it into central Sofia, never mind to the UK. However, I was informed that I was being naive and that these poor people would be moved on to the UK by criminal gangs all too ready to exploit them and their children for criminal gain. It sickened me to my stomach and my visit to Fakuteta will stay with me forever. I leave this point by saying that something must be done to help these people.
It cannot be denied that a lot of people in Bulgaria want to come to the UK, and I suspect our own government know this. A poll on Bulgarian TV showed that 54% of people would prefer to leave their own country and come and live in the UK. Bulgarian minimum wage is just over €150 per month and the average wage under €400 per month. You cannot blame people for wanting to better themselves and do the best for their family. However, I suspect many will be disappointed when they find the streets of London are not paved with gold.
It has some shocking details about the state of that country. How many other UK MEPs could write this from first hand experience?
I think Paul's experience should be a shocking reminder to this government that they need to admit to the British public what is likely to happen when Bulgaria and Romania's admittance restrictions are lifted in 2014. Instead of posturing as Cameron and co are doing in saying they will restrict benefits and housing, they should be admitting that under EU accession rules there is nothing they can do to stop them coming. It is a great shame that these two countries will see a brain drain which will not help those at the bottom of their societies. Instead, a considerable number of them will be exploited and we will be paying the bill.