Taiba Yaseen, Presenter for Channel 4’s Make Bradford British and co-writer of the play Faultlines, shares her thoughts on the inspiration for her play following the recent victory of UKIP in her hometown Rotheram, in South Yorkshire.
The rise of UKIP in the Rotherham by-election last year motivated me to work with Steve Rogers to reprise our second play Faultlines – The Second Generation, which is currently touring Yorkshire. The play offers a unique insight into life in 1970’s Rotherham; the arrival of South Asian families; the growth of racism; the rise of the National Front. How relevant all of this is today! The play explores racial tensions, the fight against intolerance and the need to build community relationships.
Sadly on the 17th of May this month, Rotheram voted Caven Vines its first UKIP councillor and as the daughter of a Kashmir immigrant family, it saddens me that my hometown has voted for a party that is rabidly anti-immigrant and betrays deep-rooted prejudices. All my life I have worked to celebrate the diversity in our society: my work in communities, on programmes like ‘Make Bradford British’ and the plays I have written have all aimed to highlight our common humanity and our ability to reach out and touch one another.
Contray to UKIP attempts to portray immigrants as the bogeyperson, immigrants are no different to most people – they want a better life for themselves and their families. What’s wrong with that desire? It’s what our country is built on! We are all immigrants and it’s only a question of WHEN our ancestors got here! Nigel Farage is himself a descendant from a French and German immigrant family and he is married to a German – I bet they didn’t tell voters that on the doorstep. I honestly have not heard so much tosh, based on UKIP’s narrow view of the world, which fails to see its own contradictions, as with most oppressors.
The recently elected supporters of Mr Vine have been trying to justify their nonsensical ever-shifting position on immigration. Apparently, they are now not anti-immigration! So is that why they are proposing a 5- year ban on immigration for settlement? Then UKIP’s friends in big business had to point out their stupidity: of course our economy needs immigrants!
Do these people not know our British history? Clearly, the 5-year ban had to slip to allow a mere 50,000 immigrants each year (yes dimness is spreading). Big business is still not happy, so now UKIP have to contemplate letting more in! Where will it end? The saga continues…..
Apparently there is a hierarchy of immigrants – I’m alright because I’ve been here for a while, just like Mr and Mrs Farage (a German immigrant). It was also okay for Mr Farage’s French and German ancestors to seek refuge from persecution here. Basically it’s this new lot; you know the Bulgarians and Romanians, who UKIP don’t want now. We know from history how this story ends. That’s why people like me, are not going to keep quiet. We are going to speak up for the Bulgarians and the Romanians because we can and we should.
If UKIP really wants to be taken seriously as a party that is not filled with prejudice and ignorance, they should not select a candidate who recently told The Guardian that too many Muslims have been let into the country.
“When they get here, suddenly – you don’t have to be born in this country –you can come here, live here for a while and stand as MPs and that sort of thing. We are giving ’em power which they shouldn’t have.”
Am I one of those Muslims who have been ‘given power’ I shouldn’t have? If not, who are they are talking about? It’s shocking how closely UKIP members are aligned to the BNP and other far right groups – Even the BNP’s own website states that Mr Caven Vines candidacy is sending out the coded message ‘Don’t worry folks, UKIP secretly agrees with the BNP.’
In Lincolnshire, the 16 UKIP councillors would not reaffirm an equality pledge, supported by all other councillors, which recognised the diversity of communities in Lincolnshire and gave a commitment to serve all people equally. As if this was not bad enough, the UKIP Leader went onto to say that UKIP refused to sign the document as it “pushes forward the chance of multiculturalism, one of the fundamental things that’s wrong with our society.”
Such a closet racist stance disgusts me. However as a Rotherham lass I remain ever hopeful. Please be warned UKIP – don’t get too comfortable. Remember the 2 BNP councilors who proved to be a passing fad in Rotheram. It is only a matter of time!
The final showing of the play will be on 30 May 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Arooj Shadi Hall, Altercliffe, Sheffield, S4 7WZ.