When you go home tell them of us and say: “For your tomorrow, we gave our today”.
Yesterday was, of course, Remembrance Sunday. Many of you will have attended Remembrance Services across the country, and perhaps even laid a wreath. For my part I took my daughter to our local church, as I always do on a Sunday morning, to enjoy the service.
It was a bright, crisp day in rural Sussex, the sort that makes you feel thankful for all we hold dear in this little country of ours. As such, it was a joy to behold the mingling of the generations, as the local representatives from the British Legion joined the village troops of Cubs, Brownies, Scouts and Guides in the lowering of the standards. All round, parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins and friends watched on, against a backdrop of the autumnal trees in their splendidly regal golds and reds.
My mind, however, was on an article that I read the day before. The Rev. Gordon Giles, a leading Church of England vicar, has condemned the hymn I Vow To Thee (which we had sung only minutes before), as obscene, offensive, and unfit to be sung by Christians.
The American political scientist George Friedman has identified three states of being in which a culture can exist: barbarism, civilisation, and decadence. In his book The Next 100 Years, he writes:
“Decadents cynically believe that nothing is better than anything else. If they hold anyone in contempt, it is those who believe in anything. Nothing is worth fighting for.”
We are living in a decadent nation; the cynics have taken control of the levers of power and set about dismantling them. But their triumph is by no means a given.
If UKIP has a Mission Statement, it is surely not simply to bring about the British exit from the EU – that would make us not a political party, but a protest group. Rather, it is this: to wrestle back those levers of power, so that we can turn the tide of the country from being a decadent, cynical state, to a state of civilisation.
My daughter is not yet two years old, but when she is older, I will explain to her exactly why we sing I Vow To Thee. We sing it to remind ourselves that we are not the centres of our worlds. To live in a decent community – to live in a successful country – requires a sense of responsibility, not only for our own welfare, but for that of our friends, relatives and neighbours. It requires a sense of shared ownership and common values. It requires the understanding that certain of those values: freedom, duty and honour, can sometimes be more sacred than the life of any one individual, as precious as each life is. We are social animals, and are at our best when living socially.
This is something that the other parties used to understand. Labour is rooted in the sense of togetherness that working communities once had. But that party chose to replace those strong, proud communities with meek, fractured shadows of their former selves. They isolated individuals and families by asserting that money was the only answer to any problem: friendship, companionship and ‘pulling together’ were replaced by a dazzling array of benefit payments, all of which, by taking away pride, disincentivise those in receipt from ever connecting on a human level with other people.
The Conservatives meanwhile used to have a healthy respect for tradition; a wish to preserve what was best about the old ways, whilst forging ever forwards in the world. It has replaced that pride in our achievements with a sneering disdain for the old values. The modernisers have had their way: Cameron now leads a thoroughly modern, entirely cynical, decadent party. Its time those within his ranks who don’t share his modernist vision were more honest with themselves about the direction their party has taken.
I joined UKIP, and I believe many of you did too, because I believe that UKIP is our best hope of seeing this country once again infused with the sense of hard work, decency and honest achievement that it once had. This is not ‘Little Englander’ talk, seeing Britain through rose tinted spectacles. The proof is there before our very eyes in the buildings of our finest cities, from London to Liverpool, Newcastle to Nottingham. All stand as testament to the tenacity and determination of the people of this country, including those born overseas.
And it’s in our arts, our literature, our scientific achievements. So many foreigners flock to our shores each year not just because of the generous benefits, but also, like my mother’s family when they arrived here in the 1970s, because they are Anglophiles. We have exported our language, our humour, our sports and our sense of fair play across the globe, and the world has responded positively.
But, as great as this vision of British renewal is, it will be no more than just a vision – unless we, as a party, make it happen. As the Political Editor for this site, Iain McKie, argues this morning, UKIP needs more than just rhetoric. We need a plan.
Iain identifies the need for a shadow cabinet, and fully rounded, fully costed policies on a whole slew of policy matters. I’d go further and call for more debate within the party on what our political philosophy actually is. Cameron has tested to destruction the theory that a political party can be an ideology free zone. His flim-flamming on policy issues, picking whichever solution rates highest in the polls, has lost him the support of millions of voters, all of whom distrust him. As my grandfather, a tribal Labour man, once said: “Say what you like about Maggie, and I do, but at least you knew where she stood”.
‘Libertarianism’ is too woolly. It’s used to describe anything from anarchism and minarchism, to hedonism, to Thatcherism – and everything in between. Perhaps we need a new word, or perhaps we simply need a booklet or pamphlet of first principles.
We also need a clear vision of what life would look like after an ‘out’ vote in a referendum, not least because it’s that vision that will win us the referendum in the first place. On the Daily Politics yesterday Farage was sanguine about the referendum when it comes, blithely dismissing any notion that it might be lost. Yet the polling shows that most people would vote to stay in the EU, if Cameron comes back with anything at all from renegotiation. The other European powers know this – and they’ll give him the fig leaf he needs.
Personally, I’d like to see more and better use made of internet campaigning as a way to attract younger voters to us.
And of course, we will need lots more funding. But I’ll leave that to others to discuss.
This website was set up in the spirit of robust support for UKIP. Here at UKIP Daily we intend to play our part by providing a platform for novel ideas and good tempered debate. So all that remains is for me to invite you to take part, by submitting your articles – your ideas – for how we can grow this party from an EU pressure group into the fully formed, fully functioning, heavyweight party that we all know it can and must be.
… Addendum: I generally write these posts the night before (with a little one at home, it’s the quietest time of the day). This morning I woke up wondering whether I had been too critical in this one. Should I hold back a little? And then I opened up my emails.
In amongst the usual news updates was a long email from a young woman who had come across UKIP Daily and was interested in what UKIP had to say. She wrote of the problems that her town was suffering due to high levels of immigration. Far from a racist voice, hers was one of bewilderment; she could see that some of her friends and neighbours who were first, second or third generation immigrants from across the globe worked hard and had embraced British values. But so many seemed not to have done. Meanwhile, jobs are harder and harder to come by, and the cost of housing prohibitive.
Towards the end of the email she says ‘I’ve never been into politics, but I just have to ask you, if UKIP get in, what will change?’ It’s this question we must answer if we want to win our elections and turn this country around.