Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Field notes on the Character of the Ukip

With elections on the horizon there has been much chatter in the publishing houses of London about the rise of the Ukip. Rumours were flying that they were massing in the East, forming an army ready to threaten the Pax Europaea. Regretfully, this idle speculation over afternoon gin and tonics has not been accompanied by much practical research, so it was with this in mind, and the spirit of adventure in my heart, that I embarked from the students union at the crack of dawn on Tuesday the 20th of May, Year of our Lord 2014.

Ukips have few transport links, with only one perilous route into and out of most of their communities, but I heard there was the occasional train, so decided to chance my luck. Every carriage taking me further from civilisation was more dilapidated than the last. By the end of my journey there weren’t even phone charging sockets, never mind wifi access. I disembarked at a settlement called Skegness, a windswept place looking out over a great grey ocean.

Here I met the man who was to be my guide. A proud, moustachioed fellow, wearing pinstripes and a pocket square. It struck me how some elements of Western dress had spread even this far. The impersonation, however, is not perfect. It is as if the Ukip wishes to mimic aspects of our appearances, perhaps as a status signifier, but his view is distorted, a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. He told me his name was Roger, and it soon transpired he was some sort of community leader.

The Ukips, I learned, practice a strange form of democracy, comparable in many ways to South Pacific cargo cults. The oldest, greyest and most racist men are chosen and placed on a list. This list is then sent to far away gods they refer to as the electorate, who decide how many are to ascend to Brussels. This ascension is both an honour and a sacrifice for Ukips, in spite of the riches it offers, and Roger had done just this.

My guide informed me we were to visit a local drinking establishment, apparently the heart of their society. They encouraged me to imbibe a strange liquid, brown and lukewarm, which made me gag. In the corner stood a strange machine covered in flashing lights. Occasionally a Ukip would wander over it to it, gesticulate wildly and offer up some coins, in what I can only surmise was some sort of religious ceremony. As the night continued, I noticed some similarities between Ukips and the lads one sometimes meets on a night out. There was something more primal to the rituals though, a lack of self awareness, this is a people completely oblivious to our notions of irony.

The female Ukip is rarely seen, typically spending their days cleaning obsessively behind the fridge. Contemporary western notions of gender roles are almost absent here. At first I interpreted the society as strictly male dominated, but subtleties soon emerged. I discovered that on occasions the Ukip woman, one past child rearing age, may undergo something of a metamorphosis. They take on the exalted role of the ‘battleaxe’, a terrifying figure, looked upon by Ukip men with a strange mix of fear and sexual desire. I tried to engage several in conversation about this, but we shared so few cultural references dialogue proved impossible. Nobody had even heard of Judith Butler, though I left a few copies of Undoing Gender lying around, a token act of missionary work.

While it may seem to the untrained eye as if the Ukip is an uneducated savage, there is a certain nobility in their cultural poverty, and I learned a lot during my time with them. Before I left some Ukips even allowed me to take photos with them for my facebook profile, the memory of the innocent smiles on their faces will stay with me forever.

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