How does terrifying my family count as ‘good-natured protest’?

Apparently, standing up for the interests of the British public are policy positions for which you should be subjected to abuse

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The Independent Online

As readers will know, last Sunday I was accosted in one of my local pubs by a group of trade union, Labour, and Green Party-aligned activists posing as the champions of what some may perceive as decent causes. From what we now know, these people are in favour of unlimited immigration; wilfully misunderstood my comments about breastfeeding; and like to attribute comments made by Ukip supporters to me, as if that’s the level at which national party policy is formulated.

Immediately after the fracas, everyone realised what had gone on. I was in a pub, with my wife and young daughters, trying to enjoy a quiet Sunday lunch. I didn’t have any media, or any of our security team with me. Because sometimes, despite a life in the public eye, you want some down time, some family time. Everyone’s entitled to that. But that didn’t stop the so-called “activists” from taking to Twitter – and to national newspapers and their websites – to plead their innocence. It was all good-natured, they said. We just wanted to debate, they cry.

Well what part of frightening my family, and then bouncing up and down on the bonnet of my car, is part of civilised, good-natured protest? What part of scaring kids away, disrupting family lunches (not just mine) and shouting and screaming is conducive to healthy public debate?

The orchestrator of the episode, Dan Glass, now says he’s received abuse since he and his friends directed abuse at me and my family. Cry me a river.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. According to the landlord of the pub I was in, Alan Dear, “this was in no way a political demonstration but an ill-disciplined, attention-seeking rabble with no thought of other people’s safety or enjoyment… Young children with their parents (including the Farage children) were terrified by these events. Mr Farage remained calm during these so-called demonstrations and certainly had no minders, heavies or aides with him.” So I wasn’t the only one who thought this gaggle plus their “militant” (their words, not mine) mates were needlessly upsetting people with their stupid behaviour. 

Nigel Farage was mobbed as he ran out to his car (Levi Hands)

Apparently, standing up for the interests of the British public – wanting net migration to come back down to pre-2004 levels, wanting to leave the European Union, and wanting to stop Britain spending £12.5bon on foreign aid, and start spending some of it on our NHS – apparently these are policy positions for which you should be subjected to abuse.

Mr Glass and his mates will try and present comments made by former Ukip candidates – who we deal with immediately if we find they’ve done or said anything wrong – as some sort of party policy. He also seems to think that Australia’s points-based immigration system – which doesn’t allow the terminally ill into their country to use their health service – is morally unjustifiable. These are entirely confected arguments – desperate campaigning around fallacies in order to “mischief-make” (again, their words, not mine). But for a lot of people around this country who can’t get hospital appointments, or who can’t get school places for their kids: these are real-life issues.

Mr Glass obviously doesn’t seem to care about the well-being of people up and down this country. But him and his mates won’t stop me and Ukip from actually, democratically, campaigning on their behalves.

Don’t deny that immigration matters

I was shocked to read in the local papers that the Tory candidate in South Thanet has said that the impact of immigration is “overhyped” and “would not necessarily be a line in the sand” if EU renegotiation takes place. Even Jack Straw, who presided over Labour’s opening of Britain’s borders, has called the move a “spectacular mistake”.

What are the political classes playing at by trying to bury or gloss over an issue that is frequently ranked as the most important election issue to the British public? Even the people who disagree with me admit its time for a debate about it. I should think Thanet residents will be aghast when they read those comments, especially as a recent poll for a popular tabloid paper screamed that in the area, immigration and Britain’s EU membership were the most discussed issue.

Nothing like meeting real people

I saw that the Prime Minister got heckled this week at an event held by AgeUK. He looked a little flustered, and taken aback by what was, really, quite mild criticism. I think that, just like Ed Miliband was surprised to be heckled on the street last year, Mr Cameron wasn’t expecting that sort of reaction because he very rarely meets ordinary people.

I love to get out of the office and chat to people all over the country. It’s what shapes and informs my opinions. Sure, you get some people who can be a bit rude, but by and large, it keeps you in touch with people. Although to be fair, I just do it because I like it so much!