I am delighted that Nigel Farage has spoken today at the Ghousia mosque in Armsley, near Leeds.
What has been really striking is the reaction online. Those who claim (mainly the ‘Hope Not Hate’ lot) that UKIP has some soft undercurrent of racism have been thoroughly shown up. I’ve seen precisely one UKIP supporter complain about the visit online, and they were roundly shot down by other UKIP members pointing out what we stand for.
UKIP believes in Britishness. We believe that there should be such a thing as ‘British culture’, which celebrates the positives about our nation. A common belief that we should make our country the best that we can. And I’m sure that we all have our views of what Britishness means. Whether it’s a belief in standing up for what’s right, or the dogged tenacity of those few who defended our nation at the Battle of Britain, or the courage shown by William Wilberforce MP in making us the nation to lead the way in abolishing the abomination that was human slavery, we all have a view on what being British means.
I’m English every bit as much as I am British. I believe in the Union because England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland work better together. Those who try to create tensions between our nations for their own political ends weaken our greatest strength. Bring on the referendum in Scotland! I believe that the SNP will be soundly defeated, and rightly so.
If we believe in Britishness then it follows that we in UKIP must reach out to the Muslim community. Everyone, whether Christian or Muslim, Jewish or Sikh, agnostic or atheist, should be proud to be part of our great nation. It’s what binds us together. When we see ourselves as united and working together, we achieve far more than we do when we are divided. We should never feel guilty about being proud to be English/British. Every Spaniard I’ve ever met has been proud to be Spanish – and rightly so!
It’s not a negative ‘nationalist’ fervour. I’m proud to live in my local community, and I’ve lived within 10 minutes walk of here all my life. I’m proud to be a Sheffielder. I’m proud to be a Yorkshireman. And yes, I’m proud to be English and I’m proud to be British.
If it weren’t for the insidious European Union redefining what the word ‘European’ means, I’d be proud to be European too. I’m still pro-Europe – and therefore, passionately anti-EU!