As one of those approved to be a parliamentary candidate when the next general election comes I have been thinking about the fundamental theme upon which I would like to concentrate. Of course we know that, for UKIP, the central issue will still be a complete break with the European Union, and a refocusing of Britain on the rest of the world, while the 2015 manifesto contained many excellent policies that I am sure will again be promoted by the party, inter alia: the strengthening of the defences of the country, including the retention of our nuclear deterrent; the reform of education, taking in support for grammar schools and the abolition of the target of fifty per cent of pupils going to university; the restoration of an NHS true to its original principles. These, and many others relating to the important challenges facing us, will obviously provide the bedrock on which to fight the tired old parties.
However, if I were to choose one overriding idea which I would like to see emphasised it would be that of freedom. By this I do not just mean freedom from the bureaucratic dictatorship of the European Union, although that is of course the first and major issue, but also freedom from all those St Paul described as "busybodies in other men's matters", who so dominate much of public discourse, namely the politically correct brigade, ably assisted by the health and safety fanatics, all of whom have found in the Internet, and the scourge of social media, a perfect platform for nagging the rest of us, as if we were recalcitrant children, rather than responsible adults. The media, and the so called opinion formers of the elite, are either too pusillanimous to oppose this nonsense, or else they agree with it, which is worse.
As far as political correctness is concerned they have managed, much as the creators of Newspeak in Orwell's nightmare world of 1984, to attempt to change what people think by distorting the language, so that people now often complain, in a country where the right to free speech is supposed to be paramount, "Oh! You can't say that anymore". They try to control debate by asserting that many points of view should be regarded as beyond the pale, circumscribing the arena of debate to include only those left liberals consider acceptable. We see this happening in universities where elements such as 'safe spaces', 'trigger warnings' and 'no platforming' have reached the ridiculous stage that feminists such as Germaine Greer are denied access to debates because of her views on gender politics. Anyone who opposes the fanatical views of these pseudo-fascists is denounced, so that Christians, and indeed other religious groups, are attacked for wishing to follow the precepts of their religion, if these conflict in anyway with the views of the politically correct. Apart from theological objections to some of the values promoted by the latter there is the disgraceful fact that hospitals and schools are being bullied into the banning of nurses, and teachers, from wearing even a simple crucifix, and this in a Christian country! These bigots, with their rubbish about 'Winterval' etc. even try to prevent age old celebrations of Christian anniversaries, including something as innocuous as nativity plays.
I have friends and colleagues from ethnic minorities and in no way do I support the use of pejorative labels directed at anyone for that reason. I would never do such a thing and I am sure neither would the vast majority of the basically decent British people. Not only would it be unjustified and gratuitously unkind but it would also be what we used to call "damned bad manners". I do not need the thin skinned apostles of hate from the Guardian reading liberals to lecture me on how to behave, but of course they want to go much further than that, making any deviation from their rules a criminal offence. They have already succeeded in turning much of the police force, at least in the senior echelons, into more like members of Orwell's Thought Police, pursuing citizens for what they think, and dare to say, rather than enforcing the law against real criminals.
This latter trend has also led to the growth of what can only be described as an industry relating to what is called 'historical abuse'. Obviously I condemn any who truly indulge in such acts but we have now reached the stage that all it takes for a person's reputation to be trashed, and their liberty put at risk, is for an accusation to be made about events which supposedly took place decades ago, without any evidence being produced beyond statements made by the accusers. Clearly some of these statements are true but, all too often, the police are reversing the principle of "innocent until proved guilty" and taking the word of those who may be fantasists, seeking money or their fifteen minutes of fame. The recent cases of Sir Cliff Richard and Field Marshall Lord Bramall, as well as the allegations, now disproved, made against long dead politicians such as Leon Brittan and Sir Edward Heath, illustrate just how the climate of suspicion, fuelled by the vociferous supporters of such witch hunts, has poisoned the well of justice.
Turning to the health and safety brigade I fully support the principle that in many areas a sensible system to protect workers from the risks associated with their jobs needs to be enforced, and indeed that measures should be in place to protect innocent members of the public from unnecessary risks. However too many organisations are using health and safety as an excuse for not allowing something which they wish to ban for their own reasons, when there is no such regulation. Frequently the Health and Safety Executive wearily points out that many of these so called rules do not exist but this does not stop the claims of those who are quite happy just to make up their own. Furthermore the ridiculous insistence on wrapping children in cotton wool, denying even simple pleasures such as playing conkers, does them no favours but merely pleases the busybodies.
Of course many of these areas cannot be dealt with easily by government action, as it really requires a sea change in attitude among those who are currently allowing themselves to be bullied by this vociferous minority. However there are quite a few things which do lie within a government's powers. Apart from the obvious ending of all interference by EU bureaucrats it would be possible, inter alia, to remove funding and recognition from educational establishments, including universities, which deny free speech, to insist that the leaders of the police force return to the task of fighting crime, not making good coppers sit in front of computer screens all day, and to demand that changes are made to ensure that the justice system reflects the essential principle of innocent until proved guilty. A government could also insist that, when health and safety regulations were referred to, the actual clauses relevant should be listed, and to impose fines and compensation where it was shown that the claims were false. Without doubt politicians could make clear that they were not going to bow down to the demands of those who shout the loudest. In a free country these latter have the right to say what they wish but where, as so often, they are clearly attempting to coerce people into accepting their outrageous wishes, they should just be ignored and left to rave to each other on Twitter, or Facebook, or wherever else they waste their time. Most deserve no more than to be laughed at, rather than given credence.
It may very well be that UKIP will not be willing to advocate such measures but what is certain is that none of the other parties will, as they are so in thrall to the arrogant, self righteous bigots who dominate the national debate. I am not a libertarian, who seem to believe that anything goes, but, In my view, the vast majority of the British people are decent and well meaning, and it is time we put an end to the poisonous climate where offence is taken, where none is meant, and people are divided against each other on totally spurious grounds. Freedom should be our watchword.