I understand UKIP is proposing to launch its national election manifesto in Doncaster - no doubt encouraged by its vote in the recent local elections.
I trust that in doing so they will be positive about Donny and not seek to present it as a community with major immigrant tensions.
Over recent decades, we’ve happily integrated Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Chinese, Kosovans and Polish families. They’ve added value to the community - doctors, nurses, care workers, market tradesr, industrial and maintenance skills, catering, transport and so on. Bawtry has two Indian, two Chinese and two Italian eating venues!
Most immigrants seek to find jobs and are not benefits claimants, while naturally retaining links with their homelands. Hence Polish Whizz Air flights from Robin Hood Airport.
We are all immigrants via our DNA - some may be Celtic, Roman, Saxon, Viking, Norman French, Jewish, or Huguenots. My own Northumbrian clan surname is of Scandinavian origin - Storie (Storey). It is a common surname in the North East.Our religious heritage reflects this. There is no reason why folk cannot have a faith but also be patriotic British citizens.
I’ve written to Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, pointing out that Doncaster has a fascinating history lineage. Many of its industries have strong trading links with Europe, hence he should not present us as otherwise in any launch event. He did reply from the UKIP Mayfair HQ, stating that the party is tolerant and not racist, but that it had recorded a phone call from a man living in a village to the west of Doncaster concerned at ‘Roma’ men ad youths hanging around the post office and leaving litter. The nuisance may be true, but it’s not widespread.
I pointed out in my letter to Mr Farage that I’m not a UKIP supporter when it comes to local elections or in electing a national government. I’m not impressed by hints of racism and homophobia in some public utterances by party members, although Mr Farage says the party is tolerant. Nor do I feel leaving the EU is business or job savvy.
All major parties are now aware of the public concerns at levels of immigration but recognise that with an ageing population and global economies, we need to attract folks with professional and occupational skills and students to benefit from a British education.
Mr Farage did take the trouble to reply at length to my letter on Doncaster Positives, and thank me for the trouble I had taken. He said he hoped I would scrutinise UKIP policies and write again about what I thought.
By all means tolerate a UKIP launch in Doncaster, and beware of any attempt to disrupt the event here, giving it even more publicity.
I trust with a Scottish referendum imminent, that we don’t have to consider immigrant status for their living North of Hadrian’s Wall.
* Tony Storey, Freeman of Doncaster, and long-serving former Hayfield School headteacher.