by Mike Swadling
In February, I attended The Freedom Association (TFA) Jillian Becker Lecture held in London. Nigel Farage gave this year’s lecture, with an introduction from TFA’s Chairman and former MEP David Campbell Bannerman and a great summary by Chief Executive Andrew Allison.
Farage, as you can expect, gave a great speech covering many topics not least of all the need to fight against Net Zero environmental policies. He stayed for a fantastic question-and-answer, and never looks better than thinking on his feet with a live audience. For me, possibly the best thing about the event was that it was great to meet up with people you know, people you’ve heard of, and new people involved in all sorts of searches for freedom, or as Nigel put it; ‘it felt like old times’.
The Freedom Association itself has a proud history of supporting freedom in our country. It’s ten principles of a free society cover individual freedom, responsibility, the rule of law, limited government, free markets, national parliamentary democracy, and – something in desperate need of bringing to the fore – freedom of speech, expression, and assembly.
It is a great organisation, and I would encourage anyone to join not least for events like this but also because it’s a great way to support the fight for freedom in Britain. The event was also a great opportunity to meet people from difference parties; the Conservatives, the Reform Party, UKIP, the Heritage Party, journalists from the left and right, people from academia, and a range of activists all believing that we have a right to be free.
Events like these are also a great opportunity to make new contacts. I was busy picking up business cards from people in a variety of thinktanks who I certainly hope to persuade to be on our podcast if not at a live event. One of the greatest feelings I got from the experience was the overwhelming sense of community and comfort in not being alone in one’s beliefs.
Social media is no substitute for real life meet-ups in the flesh, especially with a large crowd. I had a similar experience recently going to see ‘Kevin Bloody Wilson’, the Australian singing comic, at a local theatre. All the political correctness we see in life, all the push back against ‘insensitive’ jokes, suddenly disappears when you’re in a theatre full of people singing songs with names to rude for me to mention.
But things are improving on this front. We hold a regular Libertarian Drinks here in Croydon as part of Dick Dellingpole’s Third Wednesday group. They are gaining popularity across the country, and you can find your local meet-up on the website. One is due to be set up in Christopher Wilkinson’s home city of Lichfield sometime soon. What’s been excellent for us is seeing the group expand from what started as a pro-Brexit group to include some people too young to vote at the time of the referendum! As we hopefully put lockdown well and truly behind us, in real life is clearly the way forward. In the meantime, the whole Jillian Becker Lecture is now available to watch on YouTube.
This article was originally published in the Blacklist Press, February 14 Free Speech Newsletter.