Wesley Andrews is working his way through a hefty fry-up at the Retro Diner, a no-nonsense cafe on the Shirley Road in Southampton decorated with union flags, portraits of British bulldogs and images of scooter-riding mods. His sausage, bacon and eggs go cold as he launches into an attack on the system that he says has turned this street into one of the most ethnically diverse in the UK.You can almost see the shudder as the 'Guardian' hack writes this, can't you? How could these people turn down the chance to have delightfully chic Armenian delis and hardworking Polish gardeners and Philippino nannies?
"It's like you're not in Britain," he says. "You can walk up and down this road and not hear anyone speak English. That makes me angry. I know people who've come here, don't work, don't pay taxes but get a big house on the state. I've spoken to people who tell me they're here for the free money."Oh, no, we know that's not true, don't we? Clearly, these people saying this must be pawns of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!
A 28-year-old support worker who cares for people with disabilities, Andrews is from a white Labour-voting family. He is well-educated and well-read. As he speaks, his fellow diners at the Retro nod and grimace. They do not consider him an extremist…The baffled incomprehension of the writers face at this point must be wondrous to behold. Clearly, he must be thinking, this place must be an age-old Tory stronghold?
Across the road, James Morris, 74, an an antiques dealer, flies the union flag from his Old Curiosity Shop. He was born around the corner and has seen the street change beyond recognition. Morris, like many here, has always voted Labour (the party has held Southampton Test since 1997).
"But I'm going to take a close look at what Ukip are saying. I'll be listening to those boys carefully before the next general election."This is going to be an increasing problem for Cameron, and it won't matter how many BME meetings he forces his MPs to go along to...
Naturally, not all residents are as strident as Andrews and Morris. Neil Walker, the owner of Retro, is quick to explain that he was not trying to make a political statement by opening a very British-looking cafe: "It was a business decision. I thought there was a gap in the market for good old staples. Actually I think the Poles and all the other races here have brought good to this area. They've made it more vibrant."
Quentin Thatcher, an estate agent, agrees: "For us, they've created a demand for housing locally, which has helped our business. They are hard-working, plain-speaking people – good to deal with."Yes, there's always people who profit. Usually, that's all they do - because they live elsewhere!
What of the younger generation? Outside Richard Taunton sixth form college, a few minutes walk from Shirley Road, a group of black teenagers bounces a football. "I don't think there's a problem," says one 17-year-old.
"A few years ago, it was my parents and grandparents having a tough time. Now it's the Poles who get the stick. I'm not going to say people shouldn't come here."
One of his friends adds: "The EU means we can all go wherever we want, doesn't it? If I can't get a job here when I leave college, I'll go abroad. The world's a big place. You don't have to stay and work where you're born."You are in for a shock, kid - you won't find other EU countries quite so welcoming!