Why are ethnic minorities supporting Ukip?

Ukip's non-white candidates might stand alongside Nigel Farage on stage, but how can they do the same when it comes to immigration?



Nigel Farage has desperately been trying to move Ukip away from the claims that his party are racist. The latest step in this PR campaign has seen him appear on stage at a rally on Wednesday, surrounded by ethnic minority supporters.

Alongside roughly 40 ethnic minority UKIP candidates, Farage revelled in the moment. “Let this be Ukip's Clause IV moment,” he said, referring to Tony Blair's political breakthrough in 1995.

Yet it's still difficult to ignore the numerous outbursts from party members and supporters in the last month which have revealed a much darker side to the party than the one Farage has been trying to present to the world.

So why, in spite of what we know about Ukip, are ethnic minorities supporting the party?

It could be because many of those affected by immigration are ethnic minorities already living in the UK, and competing with each other for low-skilled, low-paid jobs.

However, this doesn’t explain the support for Ukip from Sanya-Jeet Thandi, a privately educated LSE student born to Punjabi parents, who appeared on Channel Four earlier this week to talk about her membership.

Thandi debated identity with the musician Awate, who told her she was ”betraying her skin colour“ by supporting Ukip. It was a strange accusation to make - how can anyone ”betray“ their skin?

I wouldn't say Thandi has betrayed anyone, but the fact that she thinks Farage is on to something is still bizarre.

She may now be middle-class, but at some point her family would have come to the UK for a better life. And now she wants to protect her lot by making it more difficult for others to enjoy the same benefits? It doesn't add up.

There is an idea that around the 50's and 60's there was a golden age of immigration when immigrants came to the UK and worked hard, contributing to key services and helping to lift the country up in the post-war era.

But where is that attitude now? Today immigrants are presented by the right-wing press as nothing more than caricatures, scrounging off benefits and living it up at the expense of hard working British people and taking British jobs.

Ukip appear to be utilising ethnic minorities in the same way that the EDL and BNP have done in the past. Tommy Robinson was careful to parade Gurmeet Singh, and Nick Griffin held on dearly to the Reverend James Gitau. These two men were foolish enough to believe that they were not a part of racist organizations, and were duly trotted out.

But they were merely tokenistic pawns in each party's electoral game (and in Singh’s case he was also deeply Islamophobic).

Tokenism is a clear way to try and deflect racist attention, and for some reason some members of ethnic minorities been duped into playing along.

What Farage is doing is the classic ”I have black and Asian friends, how can I be racist?“ But for members of ethnic minorities who have benefited from immigration, it is quite odd for them to be opposed to it, even if Ukip do centre their anti-immigration rhetoric on the EU.

Those who join and support Ukip aren't cleansing the party's image, but just masking it, and giving it a false sense of legitimacy.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform