I’VE got quite a lot in common with Mark Reckless the new Ukip MP.
He’s a bit younger than me but we are roughly the same age and I reckon we’d have quite a lot of the same reference points. We were both teenagers to late twenties in the 1980s, both had Irish family, both born in England, both went off to do a degree.
Now to be fair to Mark I don’t know where in England he grew up but I don’t think it’s such a wild leap to suggest that we might remember a lot of the same things and talk about some of the same things seeing as our backgrounds are so similar.
Now admittedly I did my degree at a polytechnic in the north of England and Mark went to Oxford University. And admittedly Mark went to a fee-paying public school and I didn’t, while the MA I was so proud of I got in the north of England too whereas Mark got his in Oxford and then the US.
So there are differences too for sure, but I’m going to be fair to Mark. We have a lot in common, you see, so I feel a kind of strange sense of fairness towards him, and I’m going to suggest that whatever advantages his parents bought for him when he went to public school he’s clearly no slouch. I’m going to say that Mark is a very, very clever chap.
Yeh, Mark Reckless could have been my smart mate and we could have hung out together and we could have talked about our Irish mothers and our Irish family. But I’m a bit disappointed in Mark, to be honest, because when he says the Irish aren’t immigrants I’m not sure Mark knows what he’s talking about. That disappoints me.
See, according to the dictionary I’ve got here, an immigrant is simply ‘a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence’. Now I accept that this means the word covers everything from English ex-pats in sunny Spain to Somalians in Sheffield fleeing civil war but as a sweep-all the word is fairly clear.
And as far as I know you cannot change the meaning of a word simply by wishing it so. So Mark might not want his mother to have been an immigrant and I don’t know how that sounds, having an immigrant mother, when you are at public school or in the Conservative party or in Ukip but however it sounds you can’t change it.
Saying you don’t consider your Irish mother who came over in the ’50s and lives in England to be an immigrant is a bit like saying you don’t consider December 25 to be Christmas Day. Good luck to you, you can believe what you want, but that doesn’t make it so. And it’s a shame really because I think Mark is just trying to avoid something in his family background whereas I am quite proud to have been the child of immigrants. I grew up surrounded by immigrants and I’m quite proud of that too.
Now I’m starting to think that me and Mark aren’t mates after all. And when I then read that Mark thinks people from ‘eastern and southern Europe’ are immigrants and need to be kept out and even sent back I just think Mark sounds incoherent. But, I suppose it does kind of make sense because in Mark’s world you can just make some people immigrants and decide others aren’t.
Then I read that Mark and Ukip are now getting support from an alienated English working class and I’m really thinking me and Mark won’t be friends anytime soon because I grew up amongst the alienated working class. And as far as I recall they were alienated by Mark’s former Tory party closing down their jobs and leaving them to face every social stress imaginable from unemployment through to housing through to the social changes wrought by immigration itself.
How Mark is aware of that from going to Marlborough and joining the Tories I’m not quite sure and how he thinks the old chestnut of blaming the immigrants, except my mum and immigrants like her, fools anyone is very disappointing from someone I used to think was so clever.
See, me and my mate Mark don’t have that much in common after all.