[Continued from yesterday’s Part 1]
Unlike the money-is-everything Tories, and the Britain-haters of Labour, UKIP has always believed in and celebrated our nation, our values and our history. It is not just about money, the bottom line, or knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. For years now, as Culture Spokesman, and then as Deputy Leader, I have championed these issues as being of paramount importance. Alongside being the only true party of proper migration controls, we must be the party that cares – and talks – not just about the economic effects but also the cultural impact of mass migration.
From my work as UKIP’s group leader on the London Assembly, I know that so many of the problems we face – housing shortages, the pressure on social services and education – stem substantially from the fact that a city the size of Hull is being added to our population every year. I would make sure that the truly historic levels of migration we are experiencing are once again dragged to the centre stage of politics, rather than being side-lined or, as is happening now, accepted as the new normal.
We must be the party that speaks up about the threat we face from Islamism from without and within, at a time when the established parties are mute either from fear, denial or sheer cowardice. Contrary to what many might now believe, this is not an issue we in UKIP have shied away from. Far from it. I see it as of paramount importance and indeed I have been talking about this very thing since first joining the party.
We must be the party that fights the increasing encroachments on free speech which have come from an entrenched but misplaced cultural sensitivity. I believe that a nation springs not just from a balance sheet but from a shared connection to a place and identity, whether it be family, local community or indeed, nation.
UKIP has always been at its best when it is radical. We have never been afraid to discuss those issues which mean so much to ordinary people, but on which the old parties have closed down debate for so long.
Under my leadership, UKIP will be the party that stands for a country united under the same set of laws and values. Britain is becoming more fragmented. This is the direct result of a public policy of multiculturalism.
I have continually spoken out in the party and in the media against this misguided approach. It has emphasised separateness. It has vehemently disallowed criticism. It has treated all practices and traditions, however much they might offend our values and laws, as being of equal standing. It has been championed most fiercely by those who have little interest in preserving British identity, or who are indeed hostile to the very idea of it.
Over generations, we have seen where this has led us. Far from getting people to mix, it has instead produced in many parts of our country what can only be described as a series of mono-cultural islands. We should remember this: nobody voted for multiculturalism. And yet we all now live with the results. It is no wonder that even some voices in the old parties have raised concerns about the failure of such an approach. Yet they do nothing.
Under my leadership we in Ukip will stand up for our values. We will say firmly that a multi-ethnic society can be a harmonious one if it is bound together by an over-arching attachment to Britain and British identity. Britain has always been a welcoming society to people of whatever faith, nationality or creed who have wanted to make this country their home.
But we believe that those faiths and beliefs must exist firmly within a British framework. The time has come when we have to put markers down and say, this is what we are, this is what we believe in. We must do this, because no other party will.
I believe firmly in the rule of law. That law is British law. A society that can pick and choose a legal system gradually ceases to be a society at all. No parallel system should ever be allowed to impinge on the integrity of British Law. There must be no tolerance of systems which deny the equal rights of men and women. The rights of women – for these are the most affected by such practises – should and must extend to all parts of our society, regardless of religion or ethnicity. The public are rightly alarmed at the growth in sharia courts and the apparent unwillingness of the political class to face up to this. Under my leadership therefore we will continue to fight for a ban on sharia law – a system which is intended as a rival to our own and which undermines women’s rights – from being applied in the UK. It is simple: there should be one law for all.
I take the same approach to our values: whether it be the need for English as a common language, the need for our history and achievements to be celebrated in our schools, or the need for zero tolerance of cultural practises which go against our values and our laws, we have to have confidence in ourselves if indeed we are to promote a unifying British culture. That culture can be one that is open to anyone who wishes to identify with us and our values, but our own belief in the greatness of our traditions, values and culture is vital.
As leader of UKIP I will not shy away from expressing this, loud and clear. Rebuilding patriotism, confidence and a belief in ourselves would, under my leadership, be one of our Party’s biggest priorities.
I said earlier that it would be an honour and privilege to be your leader. It would also be hugely exciting, for I believe we have a vital role to play in the coming years.
I have got to know every part of the party over the past five years. I have spoken at countless branches and conferences, attended fundraising meetings with potential donors, formulated policy and represented us at every level of the media. I stood as our Mayoral candidate in London, and was elected to the London Assembly last year. As one of our senior nationally elected representatives, I’m proud of our strong record there. Over the past year, I have been at the very top of the party, supporting our leader and experiencing all the trials and tribulations of some rocky times for us. All of this has put me in good stead. We have a great new project: a Post-Brexit UKIP for a new era. I hope, together, we can get started on it.