Dear members and fellow UKIPpers
We will shortly be receiving our ballot papers and will be taking a decision as to who we would like to see leading UKIP forward. You all know who I support, and maybe this has coloured my observations, but I hope you might give me the benefit of the doubt as to the impartiality of this article!
It isn’t an exaggeration to say this will be the defining moment for UKIP, and it seems there is a fundamental difference among members as to how we would like the Party to go forward into the future, which has crystallized suddenly and starkly owing to a single event that has recently faced UKIP, and what have been the reactions to it. That event has been the cancellation, owing to threats, of the Young Independent Conference last weekend.
This is Britain, where apparently we still have the right to peacefully convene, to meet and go about our business as long as it is lawfully conducted. Except, apparently, in the case of the UKIP Young Independents (YI). As we all know, their event was shut down, cancelled at the last minute because the hotel hosting the venue received threats, not just to the venue itself but apparently to the staff that worked there. It seems to be the case that the hotel felt, rightly, that it couldn’t guarantee the safety of its staff.
I gather that the organizers tried four separate venues, and all those venues also felt unable to host the YI – not because the YI posed any threat or were doing anything illegal but because of threats and intimidation to those venues as well, from groups opposing the YI. Even their evening social event was affected, to the venue owners distress – she couldn’t afford to risk having her boat smashed up.
I was expecting our YI to be robustly supported not just by our interim Leader but by our Chairman and everyone who has been outspoken in the media recently where they have talked about the dangers of fascism. Gerard Batten MEP posted his outrage on Twitter, but that was all I’ve seen, though I may have missed comments from others on Facebook, which I don’t follow.
When commenters on UKIP Daily asked why Mr Crowther had been silent, as far as anyone could find out, the comments were revealing. Some members thought the YI had only themselves to blame, because of their choice of fashion and haircuts – some thought the choice of venue and even of that city weren’t a good idea, knowing how the rabid left behave. Apparently the choice of a speaker labeled by others as neo-Nazi (he’s not alone there, so have some of us been, memorably and publicly!) was the trouble, and there was also a comment that if AMW was elected leader this behaviour from the fascist left would be the norm. These comments contrasted quite starkly with the palpable anger and outrage of others, who felt UKIP should have confronted the threat, or at least called it out.
As far as I’m concerned it isn’t the choice of fashion, venue, city or speaker that should matter – I personally very much applaud Generation Identitaire for their attempt to regain a future that not long ago they would never have had to fight for – it’s the implication that the fault for all this lies with the YI. Surely the fact that threats, which must have been extremely serious, had been made to all the venues and the staff working there should have been our major concern. This was fascism in action and should have been called out as such by our interim Leader or Chairman, who surely should have asked the Police to do what they keep saying they do – police ‘hate speech’. As far as I know, no-one has asked – if they have, we haven’t been told. More significant, what did our Leadership candidates have to say – if anything? I have no idea.
In the USA Antifa have recently been proscribed but only because ordinary people – not so-called far right, just ordinary people like us – were brave enough to stand up to their brutal bullying tactics, continuing to meet and march and show Antifa up for the vicious thugs and bullies they actually were.
Judging from the very different comments on UKIP Daily, some would have liked UKIP to do the same – some thought we shouldn’t have been put in the position we were.
The lesson I take from all this is that there are some in the Party who would like UKIP to take an uncontroversial direction and seek to be more mainstream, with a softer approach – it’s a perfectly valid stance, and one particular vision of a future UKIP.
Others would like UKIP to take a more muscular stance – free to speak out, or host whatever speakers they want to hear – confident they will have the support of a Leader who will defend their right to do so, which right does still currently exist in Britain.
Might it be impossible for these groups to come together post election because their aims and objectives are so different? If that is so I hope that whichever Leader the members choose, those who are disappointed will either give the new UKIP a try or leave quietly and give the newly chosen Leader a chance to pursue their chosen way forward, as they will have been given a mandate to do so. I believe UKIP deserves to be given the chance to sink or swim without let or hindrance, whichever direction it takes.
Yours sincerely, Dee