The debate about a UKIP membership for Tommy Robinson (TR) rages on – in the Party as well as here on UKIP Daily – so, to begin, let me put my own private ‘credential’ cards on the table because it has sadly come to this: that one needs to do so before stating one’s points, just as we’ve got used to say, over the years, that no, we’re not racist-Islamophobic-xenophobic when we describe facts which were there for all to see.
So, firstly: yes, I admire Tommy Robinson for his courage. Yes, I believe the way he has been treated by the state, at present, and in the past, is outrageous. Yes, I’ve watched his Oxford Union address and read his book ‘Enemy of the State’ – probably long before some of his vocal supporters here on UKIP Daily did.
Secondly – do I think that creeping Islamisation is a huge problem for our society? Of course I do! Look at my earliest articles for UKIP Daily, e.g. here, or here on Lord Pearson’s speech being deemed offensive in the HoL, from November 2014, or on Rotherham a few months later – so kindly do not assume that I am from Barcelona when it comes to Islam and the threat to our society!
I’ll spare you the long list of my articles about the threat of Islam, Islamic terrorism here, in Europe, in the world, about immigration – you can look them up for yourselves. I will, however, link to one more article, here, where I first made the point, repeated ever since: that we cannot fight on two fronts, for Brexit as well as against Islam. That was written in January 2016 …
I hope these ‘credentials’ are sufficient to allow me to speak my mind on TR and his admission to UKIP without being painted as an irredeemable Shire Kipper – but don’t worry, I’m not going to rehash the arguments already debated extensively here in UKIP Daily.
Let me first take a necessary step back. We seem to have lost sight of the vital difference between a movement and a political party, an important point in this debate. From wikipedia:
“In the social sciences, a political movement is a social group that operates together to obtain a political goal, on a local, regional, national, or international scope. […] A social movement in the area of politics can be organized around a single issue or set of issues, or around a set of shared concerns of a social group.”
“In a political party, a political organization seeks to influence, or control, government policy, usually by nominating their candidates and seating candidates in politics and governmental offices. Additionally, parties participate in electoral campaigns and educational outreach or protest actions aiming to convince citizens or governments to take action on the issues and concerns which are the focus of the [or rather ‘a’] movement.”[my emphasis].
This is nicely illustrated by the various NGOs we’ve come to love so much. The difference between the Green Party and ‘Greenpeace’ comes to mind. While some Greenpeace members may have become ‘proper’ politicians’, joining the Greens, Greenpeace activists, in general, have not.
With that in mind, here’s the first question:
Is Tommy Robinson actually a leader of a movement? Or is this ‘movement’ simply a collection of people who support him and his aims, coming together when he’s being threatened but otherwise not engaging in politics?
If that is the case, as I suspect it is, what makes Kippers think that this loose collection of people would suddenly turn into politically engaged activists working for UKIP or even become members upon TR’s admission? It hasn’t happened with the Democratic Veterans/Football Lads, has it.
Here’s another question:
UKIP branches and UKIP MEPs have been working together with ‘movements’ in the past, from the ‘Campaign for an Independent Britain’ to “Fishing 4 Leave”.
Is it, therefore, unthinkable that UKIP, as a Party, cannot work together with a ‘Tommy-Robinson-Movement’ – without Tommy having to be a UKIP member?
Quite a number of members I spoke with have pointed out that supporting Tommy’s aims is one thing, turning the Party into a ‘TR-anti-Islam’ party is something else entirely.
So let me make two final points:
We, small as we are, cannot hope to get the Brexit we want if we fight amongst ourselves because some believe that the fight against Islam and therefore an admission of TR takes priority over Brexit, never mind that it will split the Party.
We, small as we are, are a political Party which wants to see our representatives on local councils and in Parliament. We will never achieve this if the Party dies of self-inflicted wounds. We will never achieve this if we listen to the siren song of “there are millions who follow TR who will join UKIP”: how do we know this? Why haven’t these anti-Islamists joined AMW by now? Isn’t it rather the case that this won’t happen because the TR supporters are not political activists: they support TR and that’s it. Did they support UKIP in Rotherham? Why not? Did they support UKIP in the 2017 GE (‘burqa ban’)? Why not? But suddenly, we are told to believe, they will support UKIP when TR is a member? Forgive me if I remain deeply sceptical!
Let me repeat myself: there’s nothing wrong with supporting TR, there’s nothing wrong with going to demos on his behalf. Movements are separate from a Political Party and in fact, one can enhance the other while each retains their freedom to push their interests.
Why can we, as Party, not concentrate on fighting for Brexit now instead of tearing ourselves apart yet again? Without Brexit we will never be able to address the problem that is Islam – just look at the EU Directives which tie us into ‘hate crime’ legislation, into curtailing our Freedom of Speech in real life and online. This is what we will be tied to forever if we lose Brexit – and we will lose it if we keep tearing ourselves apart.
‘Yes’ to supporting TR as much as we can. ‘Perhaps’ to having TR as Associate. ‘No’ to having TR as UKIP member.