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- Parliamentary Candidates Interview: UKIP’s Pearline Hingston
In the run up to the 2015 General Election, Wessex Scene are interviewing the candidates running in all three Southampton Constituencies. Here, I interview UKIP Candidate for Southampton Test, Pearline Hingston.
Steve Adams: What will be your number one priority if elected?
Pearline Hingston: The purpose of UKIP is to gain independence from the European Union, so that is the priority for our party and for any MPs in the house of commons. To insist on an in out referendum on whether Britain should remain a part of this political European Union or whether we should leave. There are certain points that we wish to negotiate on and one of them, is of course, we want to be able to trade with all European countries and we want to be able to select the people who come and live and work in the UK. We want this to operate on quality not quantity and we want to operate a points based system for anybody in the world not just the people in Europe. People must be able to speak English, they must also have the proper qualifications to be able to fill the vacancies where there are shortages here in the UK.
SA: What can you offer students?
PH: Well the good news for students is, for those coming into higher education, UKIP would like to use some of the money we would save from not paying 55 million pounds a day to the EU, to support students studying the STEM subjects. That’s science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics. Because those particular skills areas face shortages in the UK.
SA: I understand you’re from Jamaica, how then do you feel about the perception of many in the media that UKIP is a racist party and what would you say in UKIPs defence?
Well if I thought for one minute that UKIP was a racist party I would certainly not be aligned to UKIP. I joined the party in 2009 because I was so unhappy about what I perceived as Britain’s continued racist immigration policy. In other words particular groups from eastern Europe are given privileges over Britain’s commonwealth countries who were part of the British Empire. As somebody born in Jamaica I felt that was very unfair. Also, people from the commonwealth used to do some of the lower skilled jobs in the UK and after they established themselves and got more training they were able to progress in the careers and jobs market. Now, however, the bottom has been basically pulled out from that because east Europeans are now coming in and taking those jobs. To go back to your first question on whether UKIP is a racist party, there are no more racists in UKIP than there are in every other party, or in the society in general. You will find racists everywhere, I will tell you that I have faced racism all my life and I know it when I see it.
SA: Looking at UKIP’s demographics, as outlined in an article by YouGov, it is overwhelmingly supported by over 50s, with 71% of its supporters falling in this category. How then in general, do you plan to reach out to the youth? Especially in light of the fact around 50% didn’t vote in the last election.
PH: It’s very sad that people do not use their vote, and we encourage all to vote. Please, use your vote because if you do not and you’re unhappy with what the government’s doing, well it’s your fault because you didn’t make that mark on your ballot paper. With regard to the demographics, the older population can remember that Britain was once a free nation that we used to be able to make our own laws in Westminster. I do sometimes wonder why we have those MPs there, what exactly are they doing? What’s the tax payer paying those people for when we’re giving 55 million pound a day to EU for 700 MEPs? So the poor taxpayer is forking out left, right and centre to pay for all this politics, UK politics, EU politics and so on. We need to have a strong look at what’s happening there. To encourage young people to participate, all we can do is put forward what our policies are and hope that they will actually read them. People just get little sound bites from the media and let’s just say the media is not our friend. Many of those people in the media come from privileged backgrounds, if you were from a privileged background you wouldn’t know what it’s like to have to rely on food banks, to not have the money to pay for your utilities etc. Because you’ve grown up in the last 20 years, you haven’t known anything different and many people actually confuse political union with trade. They say things like, ‘oh if we pull out of Europe we’ll lose that trade’, that’s not the case. Political Union is separate to trade, what UKIP wants to do is have self government for Britain but continue to trade with Europe. But people say they won’t want to trade with us, can you see Mercedes not wanting to sell their cars in Britain? I don’t think so.
SA: So would you say it’s more about a direct approach in reaching out to the youth? As many hear what is said in the media, and their view of UKIP is moulded accordingly.
PH: Yes, and I do take every opportunity to speak with students. I’ve spoken to students at Southampton City College, next week I’m doing a husting at Taunton’s College, I have done video interviews with students at Solent University and here I am at the University of Southampton, and I’m doing the husting on Monday in the Garden Court. Because I’m a lecturer and a teacher, I love being with students and I take every opportunity to spend time with students and explain our policies. Because I know many people can’t believe someone like me could be a member of UKIP, so you know if I felt there was negative things and people in my branch were horrible, I wouldn’t be there. Unfortunately I can’t speak for everybody else in UKIP, but I do cringer occasionally when I hear the negatives, but many of those people when they say certain things on twitter and Facebook and all that, those same people used to say those things when they were members of the Conservative Party. But nobody picked that up, because unfortunately we have many people who come over from the other parties, mainly Conservative. It does make me cringe and think their branch chairman should have handled that better. And of course Facebook and Twitter, that’s been a big downfall and I don’t use those things. So you could say to me that that’s a negative, because I’m not reaching out, but I see the dangers, and I see my position as dangerous. If my account was hacked or if somebody tagged themselves onto my site, it looks as if I’m there friend and looks negative. I will not take that risk so I’d much rather speak to people on a one to one basis.
SA: Labour’s Alan Whitehead has stood for Southampton test for nearly 18 years. Somewhat of a local monarch. What has he done to warrant his replacement?
PH: Well I stood against Alan Whitehead in 2010 and a long long time ago I was a member of the Labour Party. But since 2009 I’ve woken up, I really started to get more active in UKIP and want to get Alan Whitehead out and replace him as Southampton Test MP. Unfortunately enough Southampton Test people are very confused about society and the UK and the relationship with the EU. Adults never mind students are confused, there are lots of people in their 40s and 50s, I’ve spoke to people who are in their 70s who are confused about what UKIP is all about. So from my point of view I wouldn’t want this individual to continue as MP in Southampton Test, I would like to take his place. But of course I’ve got to convince enough people to vote for me, rather than him, and I don’t know if that’s going to happen.
SA: Are there any policies you think of his that fundamentally warrant his replacement or is it his position as a Labour candidate in general?
PH: Yes that’s right, you’re standing under the banner of a political party. You’re representing the policies of that political party, so I have no time for people who want to give up more of Britain’s sovereignty, who want to allow unlimited people with no qualifications and no English language to come into the UK, because I just see it getting worse for the current population.
SA: This election has seen some really powerful women take centre stage, most notably Nicola Sturgeon. How do you feel about this and do you believe there’s still more to be done to bring women into politics?
PH: Yes, it wasn’t sort of a career plan to get involved in politics, I worked in higher education for 30 years, but because the situation as I saw it in the country was getting so bad for people here I had to take a stand. So that’s why I became involved in politics, when opportunities came up, members of my branch offered me opportunities to do things, you have to have support from your branch, people have to elect you as branch chairman, so they’ve helped to support me as a woman and as an Asian woman. I feel privileged to have had that support and backing from my local constituency group and I encourage all women in my own branch and much wider a field in general to become more involved in politics because we need to have the female point of view.
SA: Do you feel then it’s going in the right direction or is there still stigma and problems with women in politics?
PH: Yes, men often think they take priority. Often on a platform at hustings I’m the only female and so I mean it’s interesting because I do stand out, so people tend to remember me and I hope they listen to what I’m saying as well.
SA: So you would encourage women, that there are opportunities to be had?
PH: I do yes, and I mean much of the political scene will depend on how you feel about the people you’re working with in your local branch. Remember, its collaborative working, it’s all unpaid, you’re a volunteer. There’s much time commitment, some people don’t like public speaking, there are certain skills you do need to have. Some people may feel they don’t have those skills, I personally try and encourage them and I put on training sessions for my members if they wish to broaden their skills and take up opportunities.
A list of all candidates running in Southampton and Winchester can be seen here.