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Why older black voters must say no to off-key calypso

UKIP'S CARIBBEAN CONNECTION: Winston McKenzie hugging UKIP leader Nigel Farage with other black supporters

A FRIEND of mine in Trinidad was caught somewhere between hysterics and bemusement when he sent me the YouTube link of the embarrassingly out-of-touch Radio Berkshire DJ, Mike Read, mangling a calypso in a daft ‘Caribbean' accent on Monday morning.

But it's no laughing matter. The desecration of Trinidad's national music was not funny but the political message the calypso contained was chilling.

Read, a staunch UKIP supporter, party fundraiser and pal of Nigel Farage's brigade of scaremongers was clearly trying to connect with older, right-leaning black voters; a demographic UKIP has had some success with.

It was a hideous spectre of turning older migrants against a new generation of migrants using ideologies around ethnicity and cultural values combined with dodgy economics.

As well as xenophobic, in my view, the song was controversial for the line: “We can trade with the world again” meaning, not just with the EU.

The lyric chimed with what Tory MP Andrew Rosindell kept repeating last week at Caribbean Question Time. He wants Britain to increase trade with the Commonwealth and not be ‘handicapped' by European trading.

It's an interesting ploy to attract the black vote with a sentimental notion (probably quite appealing to older folk) that the Caribbean islands are brothers in arms with the former colonial master and that the British government and business community would prefer to spend oodles of money with its former enslaved people, not those pesky Western European traders that Britain used to battle with over control of slaves and colonies.

Far less, goes the UKIP notion, do we Brits (and that includes Black Brits) want to do business with the Eastern Europeans whose customs and values are so out of step with our Great British values.

The Europeans have flooded over here, UKIP want us to believe, but not with the honourable intentions of the Windrush generation that worked hard on the buses and hospital wards. Oh no! This intake don't want to do Britannia's bidding, according to UKIP, they are here to leech off the state.

The Caribbean electorate at Caribbean Question Time were mostly politically-enlightened, engaged voters from traditional Labour-voting black communities in London and beyond. The kind of people who won't ever forget Enoch Powell and and who see UKIP as an extension of Powell-era politics. They gave Rosindell, MP for Romford, short shrift on his anti-EU remarks. Had a UKIP candidate been on the panel they'd have been heckled off the stage.

But that crowd didn't represent all of Black Britain. There are significant black Conservative voters, black Conservative MPs, black UKIP voters and even black UKIP parliamentary candidates. Some of them will not only love Read's calypso, but agree with the sentiment too.

Ace Nnorom, a Cameroon-born former Labour activist, and Herman Lyken, a Guyanese former Conservative, have joined Farage's caravan. Both talk about black workers being “pushed out" of unskilled jobs by Eastern Europeans.

“Before it was open door immigration, the quality and value of Britishness was different," the Cameroonian told The Guardian back in May when two dozen ethnic minority candidates were wheeled out by Farage like puppets.

The rhetoric of beneficial trade with the Caribbean if we ditch the EU is a fallacy. Any increased trade between a UKIP/Conservative coalition and the Caribbean would perpetuate exploitation. Fruit coming one way and not much else; consultancy, pharmaceuticals, electrics and perhaps weapons going the other way, along with sunburnt holidaymakers.

In 2012, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced that “the UK's bilateral trade with the Caribbean exceeded £800m (£379m in UK imports, £446m in UK exports.) It's clear which side benefits and this is just the thin end of the wedge.

Earlier this year, the Telegraph quoted a Civitas report which said the UK's exports to non-EU countries were growing at a much faster pace than exports to EU member states.

UKIP is using a false proposition to entice the black vote.

As for Read's off-key warbling, it wasn't so much racism as another staggering example of UKIP failing to understand modern Britain or, worse, simply not caring about who they might offend.

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