Bob has been out of work for eight months now, despite over twenty year’s experience in the photocopying sales business. He has been constantly appalled at the little Lenins, as he calls the Jobcentre staff, looking down their communist noses and forcing him to apply for jobs that are clearly beneath him.
The last straw came when Bobbette received a letter telling her she must attend a ‘work-related’ interview. Bob was livid. Their youngest child is only four for Christ’s sake. Bobbette had said she was happy to look for work and let Bob look after the kids, and technically at least she was slightly more qualified, but Bob had reacted in fury. He remembered only too well the seedy environment of the photocopying sales office. He would kill a man before Bobbette had to endure the leering and barrage of crude innuendo the office receptionist had suffered.
Bobbette’s brother is a Lib Dem Councillor in Eastleigh, and after some string pulling had managed to secure them a rather nice Housing Association flat in the area. Bob despises Bobbette’s brother and has vowed revenge for this humiliation. With the debts mounting up however, they had little choice but to move.
Regular readers might remember Bob and Bobbette as the couple who were appalled when after Bob lost his job they discovered they were not better off on benefits than in work. Realising the Government lied to them, they both joined UKIP despite being lifelong Tory voters. Bob had filled out the application himself for the pair of them. Bobbette, who had been convinced by Bob long ago that she was too stupid to understand politics, agreed with her husband and was only too happy to sacrifice some of the house-keeping to pay for the membership fee.
On arriving in Eastleigh a new political clarity had emerged in Bob’s mind. For a long time he had thought that benefits claimants had been holding the country back. How he had ranted at the tiny Lewisham Conservative club about paying for people to sit around at home with the curtains drawn, watching Plasma screen televisions and drinking and smoking away his money.
However Bob has applied for over 100 jobs in the last eight month, and rarely even received an acknowledgement. This has been the driving force behind Bob’s political epiphany. As if a veil has been lifted from his eyes, he has come to realise that Britain is being swamped by immigrants and no-one is doing a damn thing about it. That’s why there are no jobs for decent people like him. The only people he blames more than the European Union for this fiasco are the current liberal-communist, as he calls them, coalition government.
He doesn’t believe for a second that David Cameron will offer a referendum on Europe if he wins the next election. He’s heard enough broken promises in his life-time. Bobbette agrees, although for slightly different reasons. Bobbette thinks – and what does she really know – but she thinks - that David Cameron is actually rather in favour of both Europe and immigration. She doesn’t agree that this is because he is a secret communist as Bob sometimes shouts at the television, but that he believes in the free movement of labour as a way for bosses to undermine wages. She might say, if anyone ever asked, that he is instinctively socially liberal and out of touch with traditional conservative values. But she would add that he is ruthlessly right wing economically and sees the EU as a vital project to further market driven policies such as privatisation and reduced state spending.
She doesn’t agree with David Cameron about this of course. She is concerned about the impact of immigration on jobs and wages and she doesn’t think it’s racist to say so. But she’s not sure it’s quite the problem Bob sometimes makes out. She does worry sometimes that UKIP is only too happy to scapegoat immigrants themselves as the problem. She has even wondered whether some people in UKIP are a little bit racist. She mentioned this to Bob once and he stormed off to who knows where and didn’t come back for three days. She hasn’t mentioned it again.
Bob and Bobbette have settled happily in Eastleigh, although Bob has yet to find a job. Bobbette has made friends with a nice lady next door who has children of similar age. Bob doesn’t really approve of the friendship as she is a single parent with some strange views, but he is happy that his wife has settled down a bit.
Bob keeps himself busy as well. When not applying for jobs he often walks down to the M3 to watch for any illegal immigrants who have been smuggled in through Southampton. He hasn’t spotted one yet, but it makes him feel better. At least someone is actually doing something about the problems this country faces rather than just talking about it.
Bobbette think he’s out knocking on doors looking for work. The debts are starting to bite and even with their much reduced housing costs, they are struggling like never before. For her sake Bob regularly re-assures her with made up tales of interviews and possible job offers. She would only nag and start talking about getting a job herself if he told her about Project Enoch, as Bob jokingly refers to his activities with his new UKIP friends.
Bob is overjoyed when the by-election is announced. Whilst he doesn’t quite understand what Chris Huhne did wrong, he is going to be only too happy to give this liberal communist coalition a damn good kicking. He and Bobbette have handed out thousands of leaflets for UKIP Well Bob has. Bobbette has woken up in the middle of the night in terror at the thought of Bob looking in her neighbour’s recyling bin.
They attend the polling station together. Bob is dressed in his best shirt and tie for the occasion. He looks over at his wife’s long skirt and strange, almost dangerously ethnic looking earrings. Bob would never dream of telling his wife how to dress but he would have hoped she might have made more of an effort. Ultimately however, if her standards were slipping, he blamed this Government.
Inside the polling booth Bob begins shaking with rage. He glances down at the voting slip in front of him, and despite being alone, makes a theatrical contemptuous gesture as he looks over the names of the three main party candidates. Taking the pen in his sweat drenched hand he pushes down so hard he almost breaks the nib as he makes a cross next to the UKIP candidates name. Breathing out he feels a sense of elation as he exits the booth to rejoin Bobbette. This is the day the country says enough of these communist traitors he thinks proudly.
Bobbette is shaking in her booth for a slightly different reason. For years she had just voted Conservative and never really thought about it. Her mother and father had both been Tory voters and of course Bob was a staunch supporter. But Bob’s conversion to UKIP has unsettled her. And in that brief moment of political autonomy, as insignificant as that autonomy may be, she starts to tremble, in anticipation as much as fear.
She realises that here, away from Bob and his temper, she can do as she pleases. And Bob will never know. Her pen flickers briefly over the name of the Trade Union and Socialist Candidates and she even lets slip a small giggle, surprising herself. She’s not quite ready for that yet.
Instead she makes a cross next to the name of the Liberal Democrat candidate. She’s not sure why. She knows they lie. In fact she is secretly appalled with them for the way people who are struggling so hard are being treated. People like her and Bob, although Bob would never admit how poor they really are now. She certainly won’t be voting for the Tory Party, and she can’t vote Labour, her father would turn in his grave. And the truth is she is becoming slowly disgusted with some of the things that Bob and his new UKIP friends say. A plague on all their houses she thinks with quiet determination. And votes Lib Dem.
Leaving the polling station she grabs hold of Bob’s arms and squeezes excitedly. Bob slips his arm around her waist and pulls her close. Bobbette feels almost delirious at her moment of rebellion. She can’t wait to tell her neighbour. Bob is also brimming with pride. We are closer than ever Bob thinks to himself and decides to show her how he has really been spending his time. Patting Bobbette on her behind he steers her gently towards the path that leads to his spot next to the M3.
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