While preparing for our upcoming meeting, I’ve been reading back through recent news items and conversations. Former leader Nigel Farage, whose lack of interest in UKIP has been conspicuous since we won his referendum, has again been critical of incumbent leader Gerard Batten – this time on the principle that Mr Farage dislikes Mr Batten’s new specialist adviser and believes that such appointments take UKIP in an unsuitable direction which distracts from its core purpose.
My own personal view on the guiding principle of UKIP is that the concept of ‘Independence’ referenced in the name of this party shouldn’t be interpreted according to the narrow precepts of any particular moment. It is true that the party was formed as a response to the UK’s ever-deepening involvement with the European Union, and seeking Independence from that body was very plainly our inspiration and original reason for being.
Over the 25 years since that formation, the texture and the nature of our society has changed in numerous ways – many of which have been good, and a few of which are deeply objectionable. Threats to independence and to liberty in general come from various sides, in numerous ways, and we’re not so arrogant as to declare that we and we alone know ultimately that this issue or that issue drives all others into insignificance.
Being iconoclastic on the topic of the European Project has naturally exposed many of us to other ideas which are outside of the mainstream. Contrary to the lurid claims of self-proclaimed ‘progressive’ agitators, we’re open-minded precisely because we’ve dealt directly with the sharp end of issues which establishment politics couldn’t process – and in facing the discomfort this inevitably brings, we earn a greater awareness of life’s complexity. Independence, for me, means first and foremost an independence from dogma – especially within one’s own mind.
The European Union, which has ‘graciously’ accepted the latest dreadful deal from Mrs May, is openly manoeuvring to become the master of a fully-integrated European super-state. It has its thought-crime laws and its grey-power influence over social and educational institutions, and it will very likely have an army to call its own within a decade. It is a challenge to the independence of sovereign citizens of our United Kingdom.
It is the only challenge? Unlikely. At a time when law and order are increasingly politicised, with military bodies not far behind, it is difficult to have faith that our bloated government is demonstrating suitable vigilance over those matters on which it claims a monopoly – border control, and the resolution of threats foreign or domestic.
Having failed in its multi-generational effort to persuade hardworking native Brits to embrace the politics of envy and grievance and destruction, the modern left is reformulating around a newer series of ‘victim’ and ‘oppressor’ paradigms – and it may well be true that this has led to a marriage of convenience with Islamist political interests. Islamist imperialism has centuries of historical precedent – and it is also plainly distinct as a concept from Islam as a privately-observed set of religious practices. Thus, the media line that intellectual honesty on this matter is bad because it might lead to poor treatment of individual Muslims speaks very poorly of how little respect said media has for the British people and our reasoned discernment.
We hear assorted claims regarding these threats, either of an Islamist character or a so-called ‘far-right’ backlash against it – and either might conceivably cause difficulties for freethinking peoples of an independent nature. I know a certain amount about these topics already, but there’s often more to learn – and our branch has recently enjoyed several lively talks about such matters in their broader contexts. We hope to have more soon, but even this desire to learn is being criticised by some in the party or within our wider movement for not ‘focusing’ on Brexit – as if there’s some opportunity we’ve declined, or door left unopened, merely due to our decision to spend merely 30 minutes each month talking about a fascinating area of world history and topical philosophy.
This strikes me as missing the point, in the same way that those who criticise the appointment of Mr Robinson are missing it when they say that this turns us from a single-issue anti-EU party into a single-issue anti-Muslim party. My attitude is that we shouldn’t be a single-issue party at all. Having spokespeople and specialist advisors and ‘czars’ is crucial in the high-speed tight-loop nature of modern public life, and specialism within topics of particular interest and capability is one of the ways in which cultural achievements can be made at the pace we’ve grown to enjoy as a group. We should not be clones, and it is just as correct for UKIP to have an element standing vigilant against cultural threat as it is for us to have researchers and commentators working on more conventional domestic matters such as education or transportation. I don’t think anyone has suggested that UKIP shouldn’t ever say anything about drug policy in case this ‘distracts’ from Brexit, and the same standards should apply here. Until and unless it can be shown that taking this wider view would be responsible for us not fulfilling our Brexit potential in some sense, I will continue to appreciate the diversity of topic and opinion we still enjoy as free people.