In just a couple of days time, the United Kingdom will go to the booths to elect a new government. There isn’t too much crossover between politics and the Goth scene, but when a friend acknowledged that he was a committed supporter of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), a fringe political party enjoying surprising grassroots support, I decided I had to dig further. To see if being into Goth informed your political stance, or if party membership affected how you were on the scene. Below is my e-mail interview with Mark “Mori” Trowbridge, a longstanding Goth, band-member, self-employed IT specialist and supporter of UKIP.
TBG: Could you please introduce yourself, and tell me a little about who you are, what you do, all that general background information, please? MM: Sure! My name is Mark Trowbridge, aka “Mark Mori” of Teesside Goth Band Momento Mori, age 47 and three-quarters. I hail from Stockton-On-Tees, have moved around a bit – “big school” in Scotland, Poly in London, Florida and back to Stockton again.
I’m married to my gorgeous and very understanding wife Jenni, where we both happily work fulltime in the charity sector. My background is in IT & Telecoms – I can work a computer and a phone! For all but two years of my working life I’ve been self-employed. I’ve been into the Goth/Alt scene from a tender age, circa 1983. I was 16, but didn’t discover crimpers until I was 19 – this solved my naturally wavy hair issues overnight!
TBG: Thanks for talking to us Mark. You are public about your support of UKIP. How long have you supported the party? Are you a fee-paying member? Are you standing yourself as a candidate?
MM: That first question sounds a bit like Alcoholic’s Anonymous, doesn’t it? “I’m Mark and I’m a UKIP member”! Cue Jenni and the band “Oh FFS Mark, you said you wouldn’t mention politics”!
I joined UKIP in Dec 2012, after a good 9-12 months of research and soul-searching. This process was exhaustive, and involved a great deal of reading both on and offline – it certainly wasn’t an instantaneous decision. I’ve always had an interest in current affairs, but never before had I joined a political party nor ever thought I would. I’m really not the activist type. But, I’m still a member today, and may be standing as a “paper” candidate in the May 15 local elections. More on that later.
TBG: What attracted you to UKIP in the first place?
MM: The sustained and progressive loss of UK sovereignty and the hard fought for ability to hold politicians to account. I had become disillusioned with the other three mainstream parties, all three of which had previously promised an EU referendum in various recent elections and even “written in blood” in manifestos.
I finally realised this was a cunning plan to steal votes and was patently bollocks. These people were elected to Government to be entrusted with protecting UK sovereignty, not empowered to trade it for EU positions and pensions. In the past I’ve voted for all three.
What got me so extra-cited about the EU? For years I had taken an interest in how it was slowly but surely morphing into a Superstate, albeit ultimately controlled by unelected technocrats, the Commission. These people are not elected by the people of Europe, and cannot be dismissed by us either. Their solution for any EU problem is simply “More Europe”, even if that means turning over French, Dutch and Irish Referendums and parachuting in a Treaty masquerading as a Constitution. Greece is almost destroyed, asset stripped and turning to the Russians for help.
The truth is that the EU worked much better when it was limited to northern European countries due to similar standards of living. The EU Parliament has become a parody of democracy, MEPs cannot suggest or draft new laws, but simply “amend” new lobbyist-inspired Commission diktats and play voting bingo. Many EU countries have known extreme left and extreme right Govts in recent history, and it worries me that the EU Commission can go either way. Currently they are predominantly authoritarian and ultra corporatist.
TBG: Returning to UKIP itself, the party is usually in the media for the gaffes and mistakes of its candidates and councillors. How does that make you feel?
MM: Honestly? I feel very much like “Here we go again!” All Parties have their share of idiots, and I doubt this will ever change – across the spectrum. A basic tenet of political warfare is to attack your opponent – it will dilute their message and place them on the defensive. It works.
For every dodgy UKIP member who has blamed floods on the gay community, or been exposed for extreme opinion, there are five from other parties doing prison time for worse – paedophilia, rape or fraud. Since the rise of UKIP, generally speaking its mainly UKIP stories that tend to hit the front page, whilst Councillor ‘Lib-Lab-Con’ prosecuted for racism only hits page 13 of the local weekly news.
TBG: Do you have any examples of this kind of media bias against you?
MM: Absolutely. Here is a small sample, containing some pretty dreadful news stories of other parties’ Councillors, members, etc. I could list dozens more , but you get the point. For clarity, I don’t believe any one political party has a monopoly on crime or racism, but the way the majority of the national media and social media activists have been behaving, you’d be forgiven for believing UKIP have more than their fair share of these types.
Of course it’s designed to protect the established parties, and we never did expect them to risk losing their seats lying down. As for the complete morons booted out of UKIP for using the party as a platform for their extreme version of Christianity (anti-gay etc), or racist slurs, good riddance!
I’m currently being vetted to stand as a paper candidate in the local council elections, which may or may not be approved depending on the Partys views of my facebook and twitter accounts. Tipsy pics of me at Whitby Goth Weekend may not go down too well I fear! That’s fair enough.
TBG: One issue I believe many people have with UKIP is a lack of familiarity with their policies. Beyond stricter immigration controls, I don’t think people know what Farage stands for on defence, the economy, or the environment for example. Can you identify some policies you think make UKIP a good party for government?
MM: Absolutely. Although before I begin, I’d like to say I believe the idea of launching party manifestos a few weeks before an election to be insulting to the electorate. Every party has ideals and a direction of travel, but the sound-byte culture initiated by Blair is dumbed down politics for the ignorant. UKIP are just as guilty of this as all other parties – Farage knows that leading the campaign on loss of sovereignty and the EU referendum would not work as its too damn complicated, ergo immigration becomes the point of focus.
This next bit may feel like I’m regurgitating a mini-manifesto, hope it doesn’t sound too dry, but you did ask!
Economy – Lets take the economy first, as it’s arguably the most important. UKIP would withdraw from the EU and take up the UK’s vacant seat at the World Trade Organisation. This would proffer “most favoured nation” in any EU negotiations, as required by WTO rules. The EU currently has a huge trade deficit with the UK. UKIP would seek to initiate trade deals around the globe, something that currently we cannot do as a member of the EU.
TBG: Regarding the UK leaving the EU and taking up a ‘vacant seat’ at the WTO, according to the WTO website we’re already a member? Can you explain this one to me a bit more please?
MM: Sure! According to the WTO’s official website: “The European Commission — the EU’s executive arm — speaks for all EU member States at almost all WTO meetings.” The UK, although technically still a member of the World Trade Organisation, does not negotiate its own trade deals, except via the EU Commission.
The EU is a customs union and therefore all members have to abide by EU trade arrangements. The UK is not free to make trade deals as a sovereign country. UKIP are often touted as a right wing party, as it suits the agenda of the “big three” parties, but it actually has many left wing policies – EU exit is an old Labour policy for starters!
UKIP will introduce a turnover tax for large corporations, scrap income tax for workers on the minimum wage, and introduce a 35p tax rate for the “middle” earners – teachers, police, nurses etc. UKIP plan massive savings on public expenditure that the other parties simply will not consider. Examples are £8 billion (rising to £10b this year) savings from net EU payments, £9 billion savings in “foreign aid” (only true disaster relief schemes will be supported), scrapping of two Government departments and all the bureaucracy, waste and taxpayer subsidy that goes along with them – the Department for Energy and Climate Change, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The single most expensive Government Act in history will be abolished – the Climate Change Act. UKIP will also scrap HS2 – businesses in Birmingham will need to schedule their meetings in London 15 minutes later and save the country £50 billion quid!
Energy – Speaking of which, here we are onto Energy. This is a very divisive topic these days. Supporters of the “global warming” lobby effectively have shutdown many industries in the UK. These industries remain open market offshore, and have simply relocated elsewhere.
Whether you are a “Green Energy” fan or not, relocating industry to countries with higher carbon credits doesn’t solve anything. The net result is declining industry, a doubling of energy bills in a few short years, and increased spending of almost £18 billion a year via the Climate Change Act.
UKIP will abolish new subsidies for windfarms, which often benefit already wealthy landowners, and will scrap the large combustion directive – responsible for the current energy security crisis in the UK. As we close down power plants, the parts are being sold to other countries, including Germany. UKIP support a diverse energy mix of all types, except wind.
Democracy – Here’s a policy topic you simply don’t see from other parties – they daren’t talk about it!
UKIP will introduce a Right of Recall – a true Recall system, not a dumbed down LibDem offering like the one that didn’t make it through Parliament last year. This returns direct democracy to the people of any constituency.
Should 20% of constituents sign a recall petition, a dodgy MP can be brought to account, ultimately leading to by-election. Citizens will have the right to call for referendums on areas of high national interest. Expensive, yes – but what cost do you put on true representative democracy?
TBG: Continuing on policies, there are some differences within the party on things like the NHS, with Farage holding one opinion and the rest of his party another entirely.
Where do you stand, with the leader or with the other party members? How do you feel about this dissension?
MM: Great question! The NHS is currently underfunded, and accordingly stretched to breaking point in some areas. Neither of the two main parties have been able to resolve this. To privatise or not? New Labour experimented with part privatisation but “New Milliband Labour” intend to cap future NHS privatisation profits at 5%,whilst proclaiming they’ll not privatise it.
Additionally they picked up the PFI ball which the Tories started rolling in the 90s and went mad with it, to the tune of over £300 billion over the next 40 years, for £50 billion of actual cost. Admittedly not all of this was NHS, it was used to fund school infrastructure too. With an aging population (those born now can expect to live to almost 100) and mass uncontrolled immigration, the costs are only going to keep spiralling, as advance planning has become nigh-on impossible.
The NHS cost doubled between 1999 and 2010, both in cash terms and in percentage of GDP. Its since been reduced by the Coalition, but the essential truth is that one third of the population will not be able to finance the healthcare of the other two thirds and the wheels are about to fall off.
Farage was espousing the strengths of the likes of the French (a Socialist state) government funded insurance system, whereby compulsory insurance is paid by everyone and the majority of costs are claimed back. Insurance is provided by private not for profit companies. The French have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Our national insurance contributions are not actually insurance based at all, and the pot was pissed up the wall decades ago.
The issue in British politics is that the NHS is considered taboo and must be “celebrated” at all costs. All parties must sing from the same songsheet or face electoral doom. Farage is a realist, he knows the NHS cannot last in its current form, not without massively sacrificing education, defence, welfare etc.
However, Farage is not the Party, and UKIP back a ‘free at point of delivery’ National Health Service. That being said, I’m with Farage on this one. I believe the NHS will breakdown before it’s fixed. Its already started to….
TBG: One of the main objections to UKIP is the perception of racism within the party. How would you respond to that?
Certainly, organisations like the British National Party have pledged their support to UKIP, even though UKIP has tried to distance itself. How do you feel about such alignments?
MM: A part of the application to become a member of UKIP now reads;
“I am not and have never been a member of the British National Party, National Front, British Freedom Party, British People’s Party, English Defence League, Britain First or the UK First Party”
I’ve sat and had a drink with Farage, had an evening out with Paul Nuttall (Deputy Leader) and talked to six or seven of the current UKIP MEPs and none have any racist inclinations whatsoever. They all tire of the accusation. Unlike this lot of prominent UK politicians:
“The English as a race are not worth saving” – Jack Straw Labour, Ex-Minister of justice and Home Secretary
Editorial Note: I could not find any attributable source for this quote.
“White people love playing divide and rule” – Diane Abbott, Labour MP “Black people should be given more senior positions over white people in Britain to spice things up a bit” Chukka Umunna Labour MP
Editorial Note: This story was fabricated by a far-right website and unintentionally passed on by UKIP candidates.
“British jobs for British workers” Gordon Brown, Labour, Prime Minister
If Farage says this he`s branded xenophobic. How do I feel about such alignments? There aren’t any. The word racist has been hijacked by those afraid to lose power. Nothing to see here, move along. If you look at recent quotes from other Party leaders:
Ed Milliband – talking about his home voters in the consitituency of Doncaster North – “Worrying about immigration, talking about immigration, thinking about immigration, does not make them bigots”.
He’s since reneged and accused UKIP of xenophobia.
David Cameron – “We will reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, I`ll cut immigration or kick me out”
He’s since reneged and branded UKIP as closet racists for saying the same thing.
Nick Clegg said in 2010, “Its been over 30 years since the British people had a referendum on the EU, its time to give the British people that real referendum on Britain’s membership”.
He’s since reneged and branded UKIP as xenophobic for believing the same thing.
Basically, if UKIP are racist and xenophobic, then so are all the mainstream parties.
TBG: Having a drink with Nigel is pretty impressive, can you give us any insight into what he’s like, just with UKIP members like yourself?
MM: I’ve met Farage a few times, mainly on public campaigning walkabouts and at conferences. The most interesting was a few years ago in Durham, campaigning in the city centre, where loved to stop and speak to people.
At this point he was not as well known, but still recognised by many passers-by, and he would hold many impromptu street meetings, taking questions and explaining UKIP policies. He appeared confident, relaxed and completely at ease with talking to anybody – he was obviously enjoying it. Campaigning was punctuated with visits to the pub – this happened twice, it was thirsty work!
I mentioned I’d only recently joined the Party, and intended on standing locally. He asked why I had joined, and my response was ‘the EU’. I talked about my fantastic experiences touring Europe, especially the former communist Czechoslovakia.
I remember him saying the people from the ex-communist countries are genuinely excited by democracy, but their governments appear to settle for a lesser interpretation of it than the UK has enjoyed.
He also mentioned that it was dreadful that Greece was being torn apart by the Troika and that he would be making protestations at the European Parliament in the following weeks. He appeared to be very much the “ordinary” bloke – in my opinion this isn’t a pretense. TBG: How do you perceive the other parties? It seems the Tories will suffer significant seat losses and Labour will gain, but probably neither sufficient to form a government.
Farage has said he would only countenance a coalition with the Tories if an immediate referendum on the EU was held. How do you feel about that? How do you feel UKIP will perform across the country, and would you accept a partnership government similar to the Tory-LibDem pact we have now?
MM: How do I perceive the other parties? Well I think the previously convenient left vs right labels have become blurred as each of the three main parties have raced for the centre ground.
The truth is that each of them are very limited in their real decision-making and budgetary processes, not just by the EU, but by the fact that in reality it boils down to how to spend £20-£30 billion of each year’s budget. The rest of it is fixed, and this £20-£30 billion is not even real – it’s borrowed. Cut a little here, to spend a little there. They have already overspent by 1.5 trillion quid (the National Debt will rise by £90 billion this year alone), i.e. the next generation’s taxes are already spent. They are now moving onto the grandchildren’s tax revenues.
None of the three big parties want a return to true democratic processes for the people of the UK, none support an exit position from the EU, each will overspend on national income to finance bribes to their potential voter base.
The deficit is already larger than the Defence budget and will soon be larger than the Education Budget. The post crash buzzword “Austerity” is now understood by most people in the UK – I’d actually call it “balancing the books”, but call me old fashioned!
Regards the rise of the Greens, although I fundamentally disagree with almost ALL of their policies, I welcome the fact that socialists now have a home again after they have been effectively abandoned by the Labour party.
Next, you asked how I felt about a Tory-UKIP Coalition. UKIP have stated that they will not enter a formal coalition with the Tories, and I’m thankful for that.
Instead they would enter into a Supply and Confidence arrangement should we win enough seats – effectively allowing a budget through Parliament which would enable the Tories to govern should they hold the majority of seats at the general election.
However, UKIP have stated this would only be agreed to should several key demands be met, which include a free and fair In/Out EU referendum in 2015, a say in how the referendum question is worded, a limit on campaign funds for each position, and no eligibility to vote for those below 18 or foreign citizens living in the UK.
I would welcome this, but I’m not sure if Cameron would. I think he would need to fall on his sword, or at least be pushed. A supply and confidence arrangement, for clarity, does not mean UKIP MPs would be whipped to vote for Tory policies – the Tories would effectively be handcuffed in exchange for Ministerial cars.
TBG: Finally, where do you find membership in UKIP and involvement in the Goth scene overlaps? How do you think they complement each other, and have there been any clashes between the two cultures? How are friends and people on the Goth scene about it all?
MM: As a goth since the early 80s, it was all fairly apolitical! I think in the band we were more worried about how to get onto the next Enterprise Allowance Scheme – that’s about as political as we got.
Almost half of our songs were about the potential evils of organised religion, we wrote a track called “Jesus Only”, we probably wouldn’t do it now, it may be considered a hate crime!
Its time for me to play the ‘Goth card’ – some of my best friends are Goths! Actually, more like over half of my best friends really!
Personally I don’t think there is any overlap between this music and fashion subculture and mainstream politics. As individuals we all have an opinion, but many friends are politically disengaged except sharing the odd meme on Facebook.
Incidentally, I do know of quite a few UKIP voters who are Goths but don’t go public, but you’d likely find the same from other parties supporters too. To be really frank, I don’t think any politically minded goth should need to justify their politics – a major part of the culture is to respect each other as individuals and have the freedom to express ourselves, whether it’s fashion, music, even politics… just think of the S.O.P.H.I.E Foundation.
TBG: Thanks Mark. Anything you’d like to say that we haven’t asked?
MM: Yeah, if anyone is still reading this far, thank you! I completely understand there is a backlash against UKIP from some quarters, where we can be perceived by some as right wing racist thugs who hate gay people. How can a goth be part of that? Well hopefully I’ve cleared up some misconceptions about UKIP members, or at least this one.
Our Middlesbrough branch, who I drop in on now and again, is run by a gay couple. This doesn’t make local headline news. Fighting against an EU self promotion budget that is larger than Coca-Cola’s advertising budget can be slightly uphill I can tell you!
I’ll leave you with a famous Tony Benn quote, one of the few politicians who offered inspiration rather than exasperation; When meeting a politician, ask…
“What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system”
We’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to talk to us about his politics. Tomorrow, we’ll here from Robert Maisey, guitarist for London goth-tinged rockers Terminal Gods and Green Party supporter about his politics.
In the meantime, why not vote in our anonymous poll and let us know how the ‘dark vote’ could be cast in Thursday’s election!
EDIT 13:54PM – Responding to feedback, we’ve expanded the poll choices!