October 23 2014 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Friday, May 9, 2014
In the minds of many, the UK Independence Party (Ukip) has become the anti-immigration party.
"I don’t agree with the people who are ‘vulnerable’. Someone with refugee status – why are they vulnerable? They are no longer vulnerable if they are here."
So why would the daughter of a West Indian immigrant, herself a victim of racism in the past, fight a campaign to see the party elected in Camden?
Maxine Spencer, a friend of Ukip leader Nigel Farage, is standing to become a councillor in Kentish Town in the Camden Council election later this month.
She stood in Cantelowes ward in 2010, polling just 147 votes, but feels more confident about the electorate’s response this time.
“In 2010, people on the doorstep were saying, ‘That’s a racist party’,” said Ms Spencer. “They were saying I should know better.
“But this time I’ve had people saying to me, ‘Is there a candidate in my area? I want to vote for Ukip.’ I was surprised to hear that, there was none of that in 2010.”
Ms Spencer was born in Hampstead to a black mother from Trinidad, who had moved to the UK in the 1950s, and a white father from Wales.
Her parents met while her mother was working as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Ms Spencer’s parents split when she was 11 and she immediately moved back to Trinidad with her mother and younger brother Jon Seymour – who made headlines in the Ham&High last month after he was sacked as a lollipop man by Camden Council.
The family returned to the UK eight years later and Ms Spencer is now a full-time carer for her mother at her home in Highgate Road, Kentish Town.
“My mum is a big supporter of Ukip,” she said. “People are misinterpreting what Ukip is about. My mum would be able to come over [under a Ukip government].
“What we want is people that are going to contribute to the country. Immigration is good. But we want to be able to control immigration.”
Having been a life-long Conservative, Ms Spencer became a Ukip member in 2004 while working as an immigration officer for the UK Border Agency.
She said she was frustrated in her job by European Union (EU) legislation and “red tape” which made refusing “undesirable” immigrants from EU countries almost impossible.
“We were letting people in who weren’t genuine visitors because we had to meet a target of getting them through quickly,” she said.
When asked what she thought about Ukip candidates who have allegedly made racist remarks, Ms Spencer said the party was not racist and would expel any members found to be guilty.
As for Ukip policies in Camden, Ms Spencer said she felt most passionately about Camden Council’s housing allocation system.
She insists more priority should be shown to Camden people wishing to find a council home, rather than “vulnerable” people such as refugees from other countries.
“I don’t agree with the people who are ‘vulnerable’,” she said. “Someone with refugee status – why are they vulnerable? They are no longer vulnerable if they are here.
“Women from Syria who are raped and come here are deemed ‘vulnerable’ but why aren’t women who are raped in Camden deemed ‘vulnerable’? I think it does need to be looked at.”