Thursday 25th June
Back in the UK and at my house at Walton, I had to go into Clacton today. Now Clacton is the only constituency in the country that has a UKIP Member of Parliament, and it is not because they are a bunch of Neanderthals or particularly anti Europe it is because their M.P. Douglas Carswell is quite a character. He was in the Tory party but was always a maverick and refused to toe the party line and never got even a junior ministerial job. Little surprise that he defected to UKIP and won the by-election by a huge landslide and the general election by a smaller but still decent majority; one suspects that if he suddenly defected to the Communist party and forced a by-election he might win that too. Now the Clacton constituency covers not only the seaside town of Clacton but the very posh Frinton and the not so posh Walton and a few affluent villages too. It used to be a marginal and Labour held it for a while in the Blair years but is really Tory territory. The town of Clacton itself though is quite mixed, there are some very well-kept large houses and streets of smart bungalows, it being a favourite retirement destination. But there is also Jaywick, almost a shanty town of tiny converted chalets where practically everyone is on benefits and Clacton itself like many seaside towns has a chronic unemployment problem.
In the town centre you see a high proportion of mobility scooters and many residents seem to have long-term medical conditions, many using walking sticks and lots very obese. One hates to make comparisons but sometimes it feels like chav-central, most of the young women have tattoos and various metal facial embellishments, short skirts seem de rigeour, as are bra straps and thongs showing above or below clothing. And the young men are no better, trousers at half-mast and baseball caps back to front. A typical English town, then. But the funny thing is I quite like the place, I never feel threatened and most people are smiling (well, they aren’t stressed out working, are they). Today it was sunny and warm and I was in a relaxed mood anyway. In a way London now seems far more threatening to me with its hordes of smartly dressed strivers all showing a cold hard face to the world. There is nothing remarkable about Clacton to make it UKIP territory and I suspect that Mr. Carswell will at some point have had quite enough of UKIP’s closet racists and will leave and stand as an Independent – and he will most likely win.