It’s been a revealing week for anyone thinking of voting Conservative. First David Cameron launched the Tory EU election campaign by calling anyone who thinks that Britain will be better off outside the EU “extremist”. Quite why the likes of Daniel Hannan or Douglas Carswell stay in a party to receive such abuse from their own leadership I cannot say.
Then William Hague’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, taking the PM’s words to heart, wasted no time in silencing an “extremist” within their ranks.
This is the extremist in question:
Here are his extremist views, condemned out of his own mouth!
“I take no position on whether a Brexit is desirable, but in the event of such a decision by the people of Britain, my paper sets out a course of action that would maximise the potential for an open, prosperous and globally engaged UK.”
You see, Iain Mansfield made a fatal error. While working for the Foreign Office, he foolishly decided, in his own personal time, to enter a competition. In an attempt to improve the debate about what an independent Britain would look like outside the EU, the Institute for Economic Affairs asked entrants to imagine a referendum has resulted in an “Out” vote. Against this background, they were invited to compose a “Blueprint for Britain” outside the EU, covering the process of withdrawal and the post-exit repositioning of the UK.
This may have produced little comment from Iain’s employers, except, unfortunately for Iain, the blueprint he prepared, entitled Openness not Isolation (click here for full text), was so good that he won the competition.
Iain was last seen collecting the IEA award on Tuesday night. Since then he has been banned from making any media appearances. Press interviews have been blocked; the only one to go out was pre-recorded. Even his online blog seems to have disappeared. Clearly even contemplating the possibility of life outside the EU is a thought crime to the Conservative leadership and must be silenced.
Hague’s Foreign Office is bullying an employee in the hope of suppressing a report that they would rather the British public not see. You might have hoped that Britain’s free press would be holding the government to account over this outrage. You would hope in vain. The only mention I have seen is on the Telegraph, prominently featured in the “News > World News > Europe > EU” section.
Imagine if Iain had written a blueprint to abolish school academies, or to do away with the ‘bedroom tax’. Both would be inconvenient for the government, but any attempt to bully the author or suppress the reports would instantly be headline national news. Once again we see that free speech in this country has been greatly impoverished, and at best only applies selectively to those that the political elite deem worthy.
When asked for their views on the EU, many people say that they simply don’t know enough about the issues to make an informed judgement. Here’s an example of the British government deliberately going out of their way to ensure that the British people remain in the dark. They know that the more we know about the EU the less we will like it. They know that once people understand that there is a bright, prosperous future beyond the EU, for all the peoples of Europe, that there will be no turning back. Fear, ignorance and misinformation are the only hope for the pro-EU establishment and they will use them at every opportunity.
While this behaviour from our established political leaders is highly depressing and, dare I say, something you might expect from a certain Mr Putin, I hope Mr Mansfield won’t be too discouraged. He says he has not hitherto held strong views either way on whether the UK should leave the EU; I’m hoping that his experiences this week will help tip the balance. While his career prospects within government may be irreparably damaged, might there be a UKIP vacancy for a policy advisor? Unlike the government machine and the Tories, UKIP would value Iain’s important, detailed and valuable work.
If you’re thinking of voting Conservative, in the mistaken belief that it will be the best way to get an EU referendum, then you would do well to pause and reflect on the behaviour of the Tory leadership this week.
Photo by Foreign and Commonwealth Office