I have listened intently to your commentary on LBC this weekend concerning the direction of UKIP.
As somebody who has always been a big fan of yours I believe that your intentions are genuine but, on this occasion, your conclusions are incorrect.
Let me elaborate
Firstly, you state that the Brexit march on 9th December is a UKIP rather than a cross party event. This is not a correct assessment. Whilst UKIP members will be involved and both Gerard Batten and Lord Pearson will be on the list of speakers, it was always intended to be a march for Brexiteers from all parts of the spectrum – this was made clear yesterday in an email from The Party Chairman which states
“The planned march on 9th December was not organised by UKIP but members are free to attend should they wish.”
Which brings us on to your concern about the risk of violence at the event which could negatively impact on the Brexit campaign.
You stated that the involvement of Tommy Robinson will attract thugs who will carry out acts of violence and that previous events that he has been involved in have seen arrests and Police Horses attacked. As somebody who has been active in street politics since 2010 with a number of groups, I have indeed seen some unpleasant scenes at events – but these are invariably triggered and mainly perpetrated by the regressive left, most notably the likes of AntiFA and the UAF.
Take, for example, two marches by The Football Lads Alliance. In 2017, seventy thousand turned out on the streets of London to protest against extremism, grooming gangs and the treatment of our armed forces veterans. There were people of all backgrounds involved, including a large veterans contingent. With a very small number on the counter demonstration from ‘Stand up to Racism’, there was not one arrest.
Contrast this with their successor organisation, the DFLA, doing the same march this year. Around two thousand counter demonstrators turned up from AntiFA, UAF, SUTR and the Trade Unions – Police were attacked, as were women and children on the main march. Scuffles erupted down Whitehall as the counter demonstrators ran riot. Yet the mainstream media reported it as ‘violence at a far right rally’. You can see my report on the event here –
With the violence coming from those opposing the march, the biased media didn’t say who or where the trouble was coming from, just that there was disruption. Interestingly, there was no reporting at all of the previous year’s march which went off in good order.
It is not just the likes of the DFLA that these people turn out to oppose – they also turned ugly at an event in York recently where Veterans were marching for justice for their colleagues in Northern Ireland, they have attacked women calling for attention towards rape cases in Sunderland and I have also witnessed assaults on Jews at events in North London where the regressive left have been promoting ‘Justice for Palestine’. At a so called ‘anti racism’ rally in Westminster a couple of weeks ago, these people were indulging in anti Semitic tropes and again I saw Jews assaulted, this time in the pen opposite 10 Downing Street!
For a number of years, I participated in a St George’s Day parade in Brighton where families came to celebrate our patron saint with kiddies face painting, traditional English ale, bangers and mash and the presence of the Saint and his Dragon. After a successful first two years, these marches degenerated in to a war zone as the leftists turned out to protest our national flag, attacking women and children and hurling missiles whilst accusing the parade of being ‘far right’. Ironically, the last couple of events before it was cancelled did indeed see some from the real far right turn up to respond to their claims of ‘giving the fascists a beating’ at previous events, the left’s fantasies of bogeymen in attendance then becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.
Above – Violent regressive left activists in Brighton
Any pro Brexit march was always going to attract attention from these anti democratic thugs irrespective of who is involved although I agree that Tommy’s involvement has given them additional opportunity to stoke up the rhetoric. However, with none of the main pro Brexit groups organising anything we had two choices – do nothing at all and allow the media narrative of a switch in opinion towards remain to be further bolstered or get something organised which may leave us open to criticism and attack from both the left and the continuity remain campaign.
You yourself are more than aware that whatever you do, you will be vilified for it – how many times whilst leader of UKIP did these self same people accuse you of being ‘far right’, a racist, a little Englander and a Xenophobe? When these people are incapable of debating the issues, they will always go for the personal attacks and using the ‘racism’ card is their classic way of shutting down debate – they always play the man, not the ball.
Indeed, I distinctly remember during the referendum that the official Vote Leave campaign, assisted by Douglas Carswell, attempted to sideline you as they considered ‘Our Nigel’ to be bad publicity for the Leave side. Yet now, for what I believe are actually well meaning if misguided intentions, you level similar unfounded criticisms against UKIP.
Now to your criticism of Gerard Batten, a fellow founder member of UKIP and our current leader. (Below)
Yes, Gerard has a different style to you and I am sure would admit that he is not as slick in his handling of the media as yourself. However, it is this same direct style that is also a strength – he does and says things not because they play well to a biased establishment press but because he genuinely believes in what he is doing, a rare quality in today’s politicians. I have met people who have joined UKIP recently who have signed up because of that quality – straight talking, what you see is what you get. I joined in 2011 because I saw the same in yourself.
Funnily enough, this same dedication to pushing on with what is right irrespective of popularity is something you have previously stated you admired in Margaret Thatcher yet you seem to see it as a problem with Gerard Batten?
Please also do not fall for the media line that Gerard is pushing UKIP towards a ‘far right’ stance against Muslims – if you listen to his speeches and read the articles, he has consistently stated that his problem is with an ideology, not people. The Islamist ideology has driven terror attacks across the world and affects us all – indeed, it has killed more Muslims than anybody else with reformist Muslims a major target of these zealots. By ignoring the threat of the Radicals for fear of upsetting the wider Muslim community we do them and ourselves a major disservice on what will become within a few short years one of the defining issues of our time – culture, community and identity. We ignore the rise of Islamist extremism at our peril, part of what your LBC colleague Maajid Nawaz has referred to as the ‘Triple threat’ to our society, the other two being the regressive left and the real far right.
The timing of your attempted vote of no confidence in Gerard also does us no favours and was rightly rejected by the NEC – with Brexit at a crucial stage we cannot afford to be sidelined in a new leadership campaign whilst the debate rages across the news.
Since the disastrous tenure of Henry Bolton as leader (A man who you supported during his leadership push), Gerard has not only managed to stabilise the finances of a party that was weeks away from going bankrupt but has also added around 8000 new members. When he took over, nobody else was prepared to do the job and the party that you rightly say you have devoted most of your adult life to was on the brink of extinction. I think he deserves some gratitude for that rather than an attempt to have him removed?
One thing that you were absolutely spot on about was that with the current Brexit betrayal by both Labour and the Tories, voters will be looking for a new party to support and this opens up an opportunity for UKIP. However, unlike the referendum which was a binary choice there are other factors that come in to play when people vote in an election. Indeed, UKIP’s best results in a national poll (EU elections excepted) came in the 2015 General Election where we had a balanced manifesto to promote on the doorstep, although with our dysfunctional electoral system we received just one MP for our 4 million votes – you spoke about this disparity and the problems surrounding breaking through the barrier when I saw you at an event a few weeks back.
Brexit is now a major national issue but you can’t win an election on a single policy – if that was the case, the admirable Brexiteer Kate Hoey MP would have lost her seat in her remain voting constituency.
That is why UKIP need a full manifesto across all issues and must champion those that the establishment parties refuse to confront, however uncomfortable. Ten years ago our membership of the EU was hardly on the radar and UKIP were dismissed as ‘Gadflies, loonies and closet racists’ – yet the party was ahead of the curve on the issue and forced the referendum. We need to be brave and ahead of the curve once again to drive the agenda in this country.
Finally, your obvious dislike of Tommy Robinson and your comment that by involving him UKIP ‘risk becoming the new BNP’.
I fear that you have fallen in to the trap of listening to the media and the regressive left on this one.
Before I joined UKIP, I was the London VC and Hillingdon chairman for the English Democrats. I frequently sat on their NEC. It became obvious that there was real far right infiltration from the BNP as that party disintegrated and I fought against it, stopping Richard Barnbrook from joining and opposing the membership of both Eddy Butler and Chris Beverley. I resigned in a highly public manner when it became clear that senior members were in favour, a stance that saw me praised by the anti extremist Searchlight organisation.
I have no truck with the aims of the BNP and the National Front and would not hesitate to do similar if I really thought that UKIP were in danger of going down a similar route.
They were real far right activists, whereas Tommy Robinson is not – indeed, one of his criminal convictions was for whacking a neo Nazi who turned up at an EDL event and refused to leave. Isn’t it odd how the regressive left call him a thug for that yet openly encourage their street campaigners to attack the ‘far right’ and praise the UAF senior activist Weyman Bennett who not only has a conviction for assaulting a Police Officer but was complicit in the SWP attempts to cover up an alleged rape by his friend, ‘Comrade Delta’? Indeed, Bennett turned up at a UKIP policy launch during the 2017 General Election and with a small group of supporters tried to disrupt the event by all means possible. He even shared a platform with senior Labour figures at the aforementioned ‘anti racism’ march a few weeks back.
Tommy is far from perfect, on that you are correct, but has highlighted issues such as Islamist grooming gangs when the mainstream media were ignoring it for which he deserves praise. It is also a reason why he uses a pseudonym rather than his real name – I have met ex Muslims who do the same as their lives and those of their families are under threat from Islamists for speaking out. Having been subject to your own family coming under threat from leftist agitators whilst trying to enjoy a Sunday lunch out, wouldn’t you have looked at that as an alternative if it had been an option open?
Tommy also deserves respect for walking away from the EDL in 2012 when it became clear that the organisation had been infiltrated by the real far right – I saw the EDL on the streets when they first started back in 2010 where I was out demonstrating with other groups and it certainly did not start out as a racist or fascist organisation, with people of all backgrounds in attendance at events. Unfortunately, like the Brighton marches I mentioned previously, the concerted violent attacks from the regressive left activists attracted the real far right for confrontation – I then saw some ordinary people, pilloried from all sides, become vulnerable to the hateful messages that were peddled as a solution. It is a common recruiting tactic shared by all three of the aforementioned ‘triple threat’ to our society and false accusations of far right sympathy don’t help the situation – it is to Tommy’s credit that he still rejects these messages and refuses to go down that path.
You point out that UKIP proscribe anyone who has been a former BNP or NF member from joining the party, a stance I agree with. However, it is in the Constitution that the Leader, Chairman and NEC can make exceptions under compelling circumstances. Tommy was in the BNP for a year and was not active, letting his membership lapse when he realised what they really stood for. Many working class people, ignored by the mainstream parties, did similar before the real nature of that party became apparent. Your own advisor, Martyn Heale, was similarly a member of the National Front before leaving and joining the Conservatives, yet you defended him and his UKIP membership when it came to light in the press. This could be perceived as a double standard?
Where I do agree with you is that I don’t believe Tommy should become a UKIP member – however, my reasoning is in line with that of Raheem Kassam rather than yourself, he can be a greater force for good doing what he is doing now as a journalist than becoming bogged down in the day to day minutiae of being a card holding party activist.
As an advisor on certain issues to Gerard Batten, why not? He has a number of advisors on many different subjects and as somebody who has seen the inside of a prison cell he has first hand experience of what needs to change in our system. The government used to take advice from the former armed robber John McVicar on Prison Reform, a man who carried loaded weapons on his ‘jobs’ – I can’t remember Tommy being arrested for firearms offences, can you?
Which brings me on to your comments about his ‘right hand man’ being involved in a kidnapping case with a firearm two years ago. Legal guidelines now enforce a mandatory five year sentence for possession of guns, with additional years added on for having live ammunition. If he is out within two years then there must be something more to the case that the press have not revealed?
There is also no suggestion that this man will be allowed to join UKIP or indeed that he wishes to do so, my understanding is that he acts as security for Tommy – with the multiple threats to his person and various assaults having been committed against him then it could be argued that having a ‘heavy’ around may discourage further attacks. As an MEP, you have no doubt seen the personal Security that follows the Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, around who has suffered similar threats to his person?
As for the ‘kidnapping’ allegation – during the 2014 EU elections, you were very keen to push the candidacy of Amjad Bashir for an MEP seat in Yorkshire & The Humber. The Party Chairman at the time, Steve Crowther, was warned that Mr Bashir’s personal assistant , Mujeeb Bhutto, had a UK conviction for a kidnapping offence in his native Pakistan yet nothing was done and Bashir was subsequently elected on the party list system.
Bhutto later resigned when it all came out and Bashir (Above) defected to the Conservatives when other questions surrounding his businesses were raised.
Whilst it is quite possible that you were unaware of this at the time, Crowther was your appointment as Chairman and support for Bashir in the face of serious allegations coming in from members in the region could call in to question your judgement, especially when you are raising questions about the conduct of others over similar allegations on your radio show.
This is a pivotal period in history for our country with a real Brexit under threat by establishment Tories and the Labour party – now is not the time to turn your ire on to fellow Brexiteers but to continue to call out those who would betray Britain using your platform with the media, a platform you have used to great effect previously on issues such as the PESCO EU Army issue.
For the sake of the UK, our aims must be achieved and personality clashes are irrelevant – I hope and trust that going forward you will train your sights on the real enemy and not on those whose views in the main align with your own.
Yours, with respect