nigel farageIn this week’s New Statesman, when confronted with the fact that most in London do not share his “uneasy” feelings towards immigrants speaking in their mother tongue, Nigel Farage launches another attack on the capital’s so-called “commentariat” who are “caught in the whirlpool of London thinking”. It’s his typical accusatory anti-liberal, anti-elitist, anti-London rhetoric, and so you’d think it would register just as a minor tremor on the UKIP-irritation seismometer. But it wasn’t. This was a good 7, at least, on the personal Richter Scale.

It’s simply because I find his premise aggravating. In suggesting that the more liberal, more progressive views of Londoners stem from being generally “better off” than the rest of the country, he’s not just being offensive, but plain ignorant too. 28% of Londoners are deemed to live in poverty, which is 7% higher than the rest of the country. Yes, it does have the highest proportion of people on high incomes in the country, but it also has the highest national proportion of people on low incomes. And the fact that Farage’s “middle-class progressives” (the Liberal Democrats and, according to Farage, the Tories too) hold less than half of all the council seats in London (853 of 1,803) and less than Labour alone proves that “working-class progressives” still dominate at least half of the capital.

In the same article, not only does he paint all Londoners with the same economic brush, but he almost suggests that cuts to essential services are something they aren’t experiencing, especially when compared with small English towns (his example of Boston, a seaside constituency UKIP are tipped to pick up next year, is clearly not one he spontaneously picked off the top of his head). I live in Enfield, London’s northernmost borough. Our local hospital’s A&E shut last December. Little more than a month later, the hospital made national news when a two year old boy tragically passed away after his mother rushed him unknowingly to the now-closed A&E. The story of Chase Farm Hospital, of years of officials misleading locals, of public protest and “efficiency cuts” surely resonates with communities across Britain.

But that’s the point. Sure, London’s poorer communities differ in the nature of their challenges and their ethnic makeup, but many of them are experiencing the same let-downs from councils and government that have supposedly pushed rural and northern Britons to UKIP. The difference is that UKIP’s quasi-nationalism and triumphant chauvinism just comes across as totally irrelevant to communities that have to deal with some of the most complex social issues in the country. The kind of communities that know UKIP’s stances on the real issues will just exacerbate already worsening situations. How can a party of neoliberal Thatcherites address income inequality? How can a Libertarian movement engage people with government if they want to shrink its size?  How can a party opposed to devolution fix our broken constitution? And looking to the future, how can climate-change deniers mitigate the greatest existential threat we face?

For Londoners, the answer is simple. They can’t.

* Guy Russo was the Parliamentary Candidate in Enfield North at the General Election and is an Ex-President of the Queen Mary University of London Liberal Democrats.