Extremism - 14th January 2015
I believe that those who have sent me to parliament, at least over the last twenty years or so, have had a fair idea of what they were getting for their money. Through columns and news items in the local Press, on radio and on television, I have sought to make my beliefs clear. I appreciate that my views will have incensed some people for some of the time but it is not possible to be all things to all people and I have always thought that people have a right to know where I stand on matters that affect them, their families and their futures.
Let me, therefore, be crystal clear: I do not wish to be re-elected with the support of anyone who espouses the views expressed, in the minutes following the murder of those working for Charlie Hebdo and of the police in Paris, by the current leader of UKIP. That the man now increasingly becoming known as “Bandwaggon Farage” should have sought to exploit, for party-political purposes, an appalling act of terrorism and to seek to blame what is in effect a couple of thousand years of multi-culturalism and heritage for this outrage is beyond contempt. We should have nothing to do with him or with his fellow travellers and I hope that at last people will wake up to what “NF” actually stands for.
The irony of the timing of all of this should also not be lost upon us.
On Tuesday, 20th January, on the 750th Anniversary of Simon De Montfort`s Parliament – England`s very first parliament – we celebrate Democracy Day when the media in general and the BBC in particular will be highlighting the cause of a democratic process that has evolved and embraced influences and other cultures over centuries. Throughout this year, also, we shall, in addition to commemorating the anniversaries of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, be commemorating the 800th Anniversary of the signing, by King John at Runnymede, of the Magna Carta. That document, imposed upon the monarch by his Norman Barons has, over the years, proved to be the benchmark for what are now recognised as the “human rights” of a civilised society and its provisions have been adopted worldwide. The right to life, the right to liberty and, yes, the freedom to move around the globe all have their roots in an agreement between Crown and Subjects that is eight hundred years old.
Magna Carta also embodies the right to freedom of speech and expression – that very freedom that, throughout the ages and in the name of many faiths and doctrines, extremists have always sought to censor or to extinguish – that was threatened not by “Islam” but by murderous terrorists in the offices of the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and on the streets of Paris recently.
Of course there is a need to impose, Europe-wide, a fair and reasonable migration regime – I have been saying so myself for as long as I have been in parliament – and of course we need to protect our own way of life and our own culture from the obsessions of others be they claiming to act in the name of Catholicism or Judaism or the Anglican Church or of Buddhism or of Hindus or of Muslims or Communism. What we must not do, though, is allow the dog-whistle responses of reactionary populism to drag us down a road that has some hideous similarities with the Europe of the late 1930s. We British are, by instinct and by nature, a decent and a generous and a hospitable and a courageous people. In the end the pen will prove to be mightier than the sword, the scimitar or the Kalashnikov but at this very troubled time we have to demonstrate the resolve to resist extremism from whatever quarter, from under whatever stone or from whatever gutter, it may emerge.