I wake up to the sight of UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s gurning face on my Guardian, his one man band political party having topped the Euro elections.
And I read about France, which has lurched alarmingly to the right, embracing an openly fascist party.
How did it come to this?
A recent poll of UKIP supporters found 51% of them felt immigrants should be helped to return to their countries of birth, plus their families even if they were born here.
If enacted into law, this would have issues for quite a few people including me.
My grandfather on my dad’s side came to England from Norway. He was too young to fight in World War 1 and too old to fight in World War 2 but during the latter he helped enforce the nightly black outs in Bristol, walking the streets as the deadly Luftwaffe bombed the city below.
My dad joined the Merchant Navy at 15, joining the Atlantic convoys who helped feed the British people, dodging the U boats.
Some years after the war, my father met my mother in Rotterdam.
My mother’s family lost three homes during World War 2 and all their possessions several times over.
In the 1950s, she married my father and moved to Britain where she stayed for the rest of her life.
No one in my family ever claimed benefits – in fact my grandfather worked well into his late seventies.
They’re all dead now but the fact remains that I am the son of people who came to this country. And in the eyes of many UKIP supporters, I should be repatriated. Should it be to Norway, where I have never been, or the Netherlands? And should my own children be ‘sent back’ too? Where does the line of immigration end?
Obviously, I don’t know what the reaction of neighbours was when Alfred Johansen arrived from Norway. Were they concerned he would take their job or bring with him his own Scandinavian culture? If his new neighbours had been an early version of the Farages, would they have protested and made racist comments about him?
Or when Neeltje Verburg arrived from the Netherlands. Did they really want her sort in their neighbourhood, even though she spoke near perfect English? And what if she started breeding?
We live, so say, in enlightened times but just how enlightened are they really?
Britain has returned MEPs who support the break up of the NHS, the return of grammar schools, who want to double defence spending, to ensure the very richest are taxed at the same rate of the very poorest and who blame nearly all our problems on foreigners (the main UKIP issue).
Whilst UKIP represents the hopefully temporary triumph of hate over hope, it is currently a step too far to compare them with openly fascist parties, but only a step.
At times of high unemployment and austerity political extremists gain support because of fear. Look at the rise of the German Nazis for example and the National Front here in the UK before Thatcher came along and stole their clothes. And now the rise of UKIP has effectively destroyed the fascist BNP.
Laughably, Farage presents himself as somehow anti-establishment, as befits a privately educated former city trader. The beer-swilling, cigarette-smoking man-of-the-people image he presents is a million miles away from the reality.
The media, and in particular, the BBC has a lot to answer for here, embracing as it has personality politics, ignoring it’s public service ethic.
Papers like the Daily Mail present politics as they present Britain, where everything is broken and nothing works and we’re being engulfed by benefit-scrounging foreigners.
UKIP feeds from this discontent like flies on a cow pat and in a country and a world which has suffered terribly since Farage’s friends in the city establishment almost destroyed our economy people reach for simplistic alternatives and someone to blame.
In my view, the political parties need to react positively to what is happening.
Cameron’s Tories will, I am sure, react by moving to the right and by saying all the ‘right’ things on immigration to, as they will see it, appease those who have moved to UKIP.
The parties of the centre and centre left need to argue a very different case.
The reality remains that the UK remains 89% white and we are not being swamped.
The overwhelming majority of people who come to the UK do so to work, just like the overwhelming majority of Brits who go to Europe.
Someone needs to make the case that it benefits all of us to have an internationalist attitude and that pulling up the drawbridge now will be self-defeating.
Yes, UKIP’s ‘victory’ was where two out of three people didn’t bother to vote and seven out of 10 who did vote did not vote UKIP.
We really do need hope, not hate, and whilst hate has won this time we need people will positive ideas and vision to make sure it doesn’t happen again.