How long will it take before some of the people organising elections hustings realise that UKIP is now a well established and important force in British politics?
Just a short time ago, as the UK Independence Party candidate in Walsall South, I joined other Walsall South candidates at a hustings meeting in the Palfrey area of Walsall, it was quite a rough and tumble event. Had it not been for the fact that I had gone to a hustings meeting few days earlier to support Liz Hazell, our UKIP candidate in Walsall North, I would not have known about this particular hustings and not been invited. It was my Tory opponent who mentioned it to me and when I called the organiser to ask why I had not been invited he replied that it was for the three main parties only. I had to point out to him that after the European elections last year UKIP was, in fact, the second largest party by size of vote, fortunately he relented and invited me along.
What an interesting evening it proved to be. About 90% of the audience was Asian and they did not seem to bother about how much noise they were making as the candidates were talking. The Labour candidate is Valerie Vaz, sister of the ex Euro Minister, Keith Vaz. Naturally when I was pointing out how much the EU influences our lives and why the reason we have PFI is down to the EU's growth and stability pact, she was rolling her eyes - what else can you expect from the sister of Keith (let's give our country away) Vaz. Other than that she came across as a nice lady, quite approachable and friendly.
I did my bit for UKIP, sadly it will not be enough to get me elected, but at the end of the night I had a few pats on the back and some praise from people who I would not normally expect to support UKIP. We went home via the Lyndon House Hotel for a quick one and a autopsy. My UKIP crew thought I did well, which was nice of them to say - but they are biased and good friends. My next outing is at another hustings on Wednesday 28th April at St Mary's the Mount Catholic church in Walsall. Usually the hustings there are a little calmer.