Not for the first time; and certainly not for the last, some individual comments of UKIP members will be fished and publicised with a negative slant in order to dissuade voters from solidifying their support on the ballot paper. It’s simply a part of modern political strategy. When one has nothing constructive to offer find something bad to say about your opponents.
This week it was David Silvester, last week some comments were ‘lifted’ from our forum and plastered all over the Daily Mail and we must expect similar treatment from our opponents in the future so the question, perhaps, is should we be overtly worried by this or should we retain individuality as a virtue? The question of is there a limit has already been answered and is embodied within the existing law.
One approach would be to attempt to sanitise seemingly unpopular or irrational views. It’s really tempting to do this but it is also playing to the agenda of the opposition. I notice that our forum is currently undergoing ‘essential maintenance’ so let hope we haven’t caved in already. One of the real attractions of UKIP is our unstinting support for freedom of expression, our dismissal of political correctness and the principle that honest lawful views can be shared without persecution.
The other approach might be to defend an individual’s right to say what he believes to be true and there is considerably more to this argument than initially meets the eye.
Firstly, we don’t know how many people might agree with Silvester. Of course the politically and socially acceptable position on religion and/or god from a politician’s viewpoint is to express a deeply held and sincere belief in whichever religion happens to dominate your electorate, attend the mandatory services and perform the necessary perfunctory tasks yet form no principles or take any action based upon the chosen faith. That way one can pretend to be godly but without being influenced by religion.
After all, with an estimated 2.1 billion Christians, 1.5 Billion Muslims and over a billion other supporters of indefinable deities the likelihood is that David Sylvester’s views may well enjoy silent support from a considerable number of people who, because of the nature of persecution, even on a superficial scale, will not necessarily want to air their opinions publicly. Similarly, this is why visible concern about mass immigration does not reflect the true levels of discontent and we can expect greater support in a private polling booth than opinion polls might suggest.
Secondly, how do we know he isn’t right? The whole area kind of lends itself to uncertainty and the only possibly rational position to adopt is one of ‘open minded scepticism’ towards both the proposer and his detractors. After all nobody actually knows whether or not the floods were a result of divine intervention or not but , oddly, it is seen as sensible and politically correct to attack something about which one has no conceptually substantive information at all. Those that say there is no god are perhaps less well informed than those who say there is. However we’ll all have our opinions, as for me, I don’t think the connection he suggests is supported by my personal understanding of our spirituality and soul life, but I would support his right to make it. It is a logical extension of the teaching of Christianity and a follows from a fundamental prejudice of this and other religions.
In his amazing book ‘The Hidden Reality’ Brian Greene offers probable mathematical hypotheses incorporating multiple universes of different types, parallel worlds and our own multi-dimensional universe with ten dimensions and not the four we can interact with. The experience stretches the bounds of conceptual ability but assuredly emphasises all too well just how little we as a species know about anything. This is a salutary lesson.
Anyway, back to political reality. In this world not knowing anything or having any firm opinion is considered a real plus. Politicians have learned to say nothing at great length simply by being in fear of expressing an opinion. UKIP is trying to cut through that mould of deceptive drivel and say what we mean and perhaps, censuring the ‘eccentric’ is not the best way of underpinning this principle.
However, as every slip or injudicious comment made by anyone associated with UKIP may be employed as a weapon we need a consistent defence. We have to express, staunchly, our support of free speech even when it nudges political correctness or touches the odd nerve. This is what makes us different and for most it is probably seen as a welcome change.