John Rees-Evans: UKIP – Don’t fear ideas! Instead, fear those who fear ideas.
It was Queen Elizabeth I who said ‘I would not open windows into men’s souls.’ Since then, gradually, it has been the hallmark, of Britain to be a country that respects an individual’s conscience, and their right to hold views, which we may or may not disagree with. UKIP must be the party that continues to defend this. I have been unsettled by calls for various candidates to be disallowed the chance to put themselves forward to the membership, and allow them to decide. This would have been a travesty; it is my belief UKIP members are better equipped than any group of people behind closed doors to make the decision on who is best to lead their party.
The growingly prevalent negative approach to free speech and liberty of conscience both within and without the party is one of the main causes of the decline of our country and the growing irrelevance of UKIP. We cannot hope to become relevant while we straightjacket ourselves to the tiny manoeuvre space we’re granted by the establishment. The direct democracy vision I have for the party (and the country in the long term) will mean that the people set the parameters of debate. Not me, not anyone else, but the people of UKIP and this great nation, providing it adheres to the rule of law and our ancient constitution. The robust debate, which flows from such, is like fire around a crucible – eventually the best solution, polished by argument, springs forth. Some candidates may have positions that some find strong, but they ought to have the right to express those, and place themselves before the electorate. With direct democracy, what I or anyone else thinks personally is not something to be feared, because the people will have the final word! It saddens me that so many people fear, or even hate, this idea of true representative democracy. For too long the members trudging door-to-door have done so at the behest of a clique at the top of the party. Some express fear that some candidates’ views may become policy, whilst others are passionate about particular causes and want to see it represented by our party; and herein lies the problem that direct democracy solves! No single person or group of people unaccountably decides our policies. The leader’s position is limited to the wishes of the members.
Only yesterday ‘The Daily Mirror’ attempted a hit piece on me where they tried to claim that I wanted to repatriate Indians using money from the foreign aid budget. The truth is that my idea was not even remotely close to this, and moreover, my idea was but one idea of 2 or 3 that I have for potentially solving the population crisis and foreign aid scandal. There is ‘more than one way to skin a cat’, so to speak, and what I proposed, whilst drastically misrepresented, was but one of the ways we could deal with the issues. In due course, I will mention other ideas on the same topic and others, and that is ok, because through direct democracy, the members would be free to accept, amend or reject any of my own, or other people’s ideas. Consequently, there really isn’t any scandal here, I proposed one of several ideas I have and it was predictably misrepresented by an already anti-UKIP, left wing, pro-remain tabloid. I trust that given the predictability, most UKIP members can see right through this. I have some other ideas, very different to the one idea I highlighted as an example yesterday, on dealing with population and foreign aid too. Seeing these ideas being so callously misrepresented, by opportunists, does highlight an important point regarding the misrepresentation of views, ideas and principles.
It is true that I have some traditional views on some matters which I have been open about. No potential UKIP leader should take a ‘Tim Farron’ approach; not only is that dishonest and hypocritical, it’s also not conducive to a party that wants real people over establishment cardboard cut-outs. Like Nigel, I have some radical ideas on various subjects, and nobody will agree with all of my opinions on everything, but one thing is for sure, under direct democracy, wide ranges of opinions are welcomed, not feared. My view on same sex marriage was recently represented in an interesting light. Keep in mind that many people, both in and out of the public sphere, ultimately share my view. Brendan O’Neill opposes same-sex marriage for example, as does Jacob Rees-Mogg and a number of other political and non-political individuals. My personal views are not necessarily views that will become the policy of UKIP. In fact, if I were seeking such a thing, I would not be putting forward an open, functional and transparent Direct Democracy platform. Anyone is free to dispute, ignore, dismiss or agree. Nevertheless, it appears that many people seek to use my personal convictions, as a tool to oppose my candidacy or campaign against voting for me, regardless of the fact that this is erroneous thinking due to the fact that I propose a Direct Democracy platform, as mentioned above. The argument that they use, or the concerns that they express, is that I am ‘anti-gay’ and ‘hate gay people’. This is another baseless misrepresentation; it is categorically false.
It would be hypocritical of me to cast a personal judgment on any individual for any reason, when I am so imperfect myself. I believe this to be the proper, morally right, and decent approach. As such, I have never, and will never, mistreat or fail any individual because of their sexual orientation, or anything else. Whether or not I approve of what this person is doing, is irrelevant in that. I have witnessed first hand, the effects that hatred for individuals, even when masked by religious beliefs or some social ‘activism’, can cause. My own campaign manager is both gay and Catholic. He has received vicious attacks from both sides of this debate. Attacked for being Catholic by LGBT activists, and attacked for being homosexual by a small number of religious people. As he will attest however, I accept him, as he is, without question. These attacks have at times been sickeningly vicious; so let me be clear, I continue to stand by him. Not because he is Christian, since I do not subscribe to Catholicism, nor because he is Gay, but because he is a human being. Thus, despite facing calls from these respective groups to sack him, I refuse. He remains in his post because he is the right man for the job.
Freedom of conscience, speech, association, and many others, are for all individuals. I believe, passionately, in these principles. That is why I believe in my right to profess my thoughts, but without forcing others to adhere to them. Similarly, it is why gay people, and others, are free to live according to their own conscience and free will, without forcing others to adhere to them. Many people do not conform to my worldview, and not everybody is interested in the same topic as everybody else. That is why any policy or rules for society must be what the people have decided, not dictated from the top down, be it from me or anyone else. These principles rely on open debate on any topic; on convincing, not forcing. The same freedoms and liberties I believe in are freedoms that have allowed various groups, including LGBT groups, to be free, and it is not within the authority of anyone to strip those freedoms away from others, no matter what! With that in mind, I intend to uphold those principles, and have done so thus far. Individuals should all be treated with the same respect and courtesy. This does not mean applauding, or even agreeing with any action or cause contrary to one’s conscience. It means treating human beings as human beings, and to do any different is reprehensible.
Do I want to repatriate anyone? No. This is callous misrepresentation. Hardly surprising coming from the Daily Mirror! Do I hate LGBT people or anyone else? No, again, a baseless charge. True diversity, is diversity of thought. We should be proud in UKIP to be, in that respect, the most diverse party in the country. That is why UKIP is perfect for direct democracy! You will undoubtedly hate some of my ideas, and may love others, but ultimately the final say will be in your hands. Do not fear ideas! Instead, fear those who fear ideas! It is for all individuals, both within UKIP and the UK as a whole, that I fight for, and invite to Be The Government.