“Friends, Kippers, Countrymen, lend me your ears….” (not Will Shakespeare).
What a state UKIP as a Party is in! A libertarian Party? It appears that libertarian may mean many things to many people. From the UKIP Constitution:
2.5 The Party is a democratic, libertarian Party and will espouse policies which:
- promote and encourage those who aspire to improve their personal situation and those who seek to be self-reliant, whilst providing protection for those genuinely in need;
- favour the ability of individuals to make decisions in respect of themselves;
- seek to diminish the role of the State;
- lower the burden of taxation on individuals and businesses;
- ensure proper control over the United Kingdom’s borders;
- strengthen and guarantee the essential, traditional freedoms and liberties of all people in the United Kingdom.
I would like to emphasise the final part of the UKIP Constitution 2.5:
“…strengthen and guarantee the essential, traditional freedoms and liberties of all people in the UK….”
A noble sentiment and goal. It appears that a reminder is required for those who are in positions of representation in the Party as to what constitutes ‘essential traditional freedoms and liberties’.
Freedom of Speech is the one right upon which all others rely and follow. Free Speech is the very foundation of the civilisation from which we all benefit today. In the United States, a century after our own 1689 Bill of Rights, ‘the people’, through the ‘Founding Fathers’ and Framers, attempted to secure the primacy of individual liberty and property rights in formulating their own Constitution and Bill of Rights and improve upon that which England had at that point in history fashioned. In the list of Amendments to the US Constitution, freedom of expression makes an appearance at number one. Right at the start of the Bill of Rights*). Numero Uno.
But are we forgetting our history? Are we forgetting the foundations of our society? Have we lost the understanding of what our basic rights are and from where they came? It appears to me that the awareness of the importance of Free Speech has been eroded and is disappearing all the time. What follows from restricted speech, absent speech – bad speech, are bad ideas, hidden ideas, fear, confusion and bad decisions.
I, like many in UKIP, and outside it, champion Free Speech vocally and perceive it to be ever more threatened through imposed cultural changes; pressure from environmental / political activists, Islamic spokespeople and through legislation falling under the all-encompassing description ‘Hate Crime’. Schools and Higher Academia are not helping either.
The latest verbalised assault on our fundamental freedoms – that to freely associate with those we choose and to share with them ideas – has come from two UKIP Party members and representatives in an official Party communique. You could not, as they say, make it up….
“….UKIP’s Jane Collins, Yorkshire and North Lincs. MEP and Cllr Allen Cowles Leader of UKIP Rotherham support the decision of Rotherham police and the venue to cancel Ms Walter’s [sic] rally….” (extract from UKIP Press Release of 28th June 2017, see the full text here).
“…I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it…” a phrase sometimes attributed to Voltaire, or Evelyn Beatrice Hall – (it matters not to whom, as the words say it all) – was one historical reminder of the importance of Free Speech.
If a member wishes to address the membership as she has ambitions to lead the Party, of course she should be heard! To agree with enforced silencing through left wing thug groups, the police and a venue owner who is stuck between a rock and a hard place, is cowardice on the part of the named Party members above and not a stoic defence of our traditional liberties.
The Greek poet Euripides was even more forceful in his subjective aphorism exemplifying the pure righteousness of the freedom to express oneself. “….This is slavery not to speak one’s thought……”. Wisdom aged for over two millennia, yet striking in its modernity and appeal to the free mind and the truth seeker!
When a fellow Party member advises other party members to close their ears to another fellow member – my reaction is to do the opposite and listen closely. I intend to listen to what Anne Marie Waters has to say. Attentively.
I am saddened at the current penchant for prejudice within certain Party members. Prejudice characterised by the desire for Anne Marie Waters to (i) Not be listened to, (ii) Not be heard, (iii) Have the rights of fellow members to freely associate be handicapped by the actions of the Police Service and intimidatory thug groups such as Hope not Hate, and (iv) Stigmatise Anne Marie Waters in the national press using ad hominem attacks such as ‘single issue’ ‘extremist’ ‘neo-fascist’ or ‘far right’.
Do not those who fear Anne Marie Waters’ words and deeds understand? Only the light of truth can reveal whether she is a suitable leader for UKIP, not the darkness of silence, stigma and ignorance. Perhaps those that seek to silence Anne Marie Waters do understand, which would be worse for it would be wilful contempt for our traditional and essential rights rather than ignorance of them.
She must be heard, questioned and tested! But to do this, she must speak her thoughts and UKIP members should freely assemble to hear them. It would be slavery for her, and fellow members, not to do so.
UKIP members can register for Anne Marie Waters events by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and membership number. There are other party members who will seek to be elected Leader of the Party. I encourage all members to listen to each of them, attentively and without prejudice.
[*The US Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution]