UKIP is gearing up in Poole in the run up to the 2015 general elections with a new office – in the back of a printing shop.
In David Darling’s Everything4Printers print shop on 185 Bournemouth Road everything is in place: cartridges, paper and stationary. But for the past three weeks also a whole range of UKIP party and campaign information is in stock.
“I had this spare room and painted it in UKIP purple and yellow over the weekend,” says Mr Darling, a sunny character who smiles a lot and greets foreigners with a few nuggets of German or Spanish.
“I thought it was the ideal location for a party office to support our candidate David Young to win the general election in Poole.”
The windows of his shop, located on a busy Poole road, advertise low printing rates and policy goals of the Eurosceptic right-wing party. Mr Darling says that customers liked the idea to shop and at the same time inform themselves about UKIP.
Party membership in Poole has doubled from 100 to 212 members within the past 12 months. The telephone rings. “Probably somebody else to join up,” says Darling while grabbing the phone, “Good afternoon, UKIP!”
Between stacks of campaign placards, window signs put up with clothes-pegs and maps with red pins indicating party supporters, UKIP Poole and Mid Dorset chairman John Butler is working on a campaigning rota.
“Locally, we are a bit of a Do-It-Yourself party. But this office really is a statement of intent – that we are here in Poole, that we are serious and that we are here to win the parliament seat from Tory MP Robert Syms.”
One of the proposals UKIP is serious about is introducing referenda into local politics, “Whenever possible, people should have the chance to vote in local referenda. What the people want is what they should have.”
When asked about the widely criticised Crimean referendum, Butler says, “I can’t see why there should be a great objection against it. If the people in Crimea want to separate from Ukraine, then give them that choice.”
Butler says that UKIP is a party of people with strong core beliefs, “We believe that the best people to govern a Britain, or any country, are the people of that country.”
Another core belief is to “end uncontrolled mass immigration of unskilled labour.” But in Bournemouth and Poole, as Butler agrees, that is generally not an issue.
Nation-wide the latest Census data and a 2014 government report failed to establish a strong link between British unemployment and immigration flows. And University College London study found that immigrants actually make a net contribution to the UK.
“UKIP is a party of conviction”, Darling says, “and at the local branch we are not professional politicians by any means.
“But by May 15 we will have the right people in place to make a credible, alternative party. Who knows, in 15 months we might need a bigger office.”