As the president of a UKIP society at what is, in general, a very left-wing university, I’m well aware of the fact that our views are not popular with a great number of students.
There have been many occasions on which I’ve been confronted about my views, and asked to explain them – and I have, wherever possible, done my best to engage with people and have a genuine discussion with them.
The Anarchist Society, on the other hand, have absolutely no interest whatsoever in democracy and freedom.
They disagree with us on a great number of things, but the issue I have is their attempt to silence anyone who disagrees with them.
Not only is it reminiscent of totalitarian states of the past, it is intellectually dishonest, and does a great disservice to the students of the University of Sussex, whom I believe are in possession of sufficient logical prowess to be presented with the various facts and arguments, and then be given the space to make up their own minds.
The behaviour of the Anarchists at this week’s Freshers’ Fair was nothing short of a disgrace.
Early on in the morning, while we were having honest conversations with students, telling them why we believe what we do, they were slyly (and also not-so-slyly) defacing our materials and equipment by slamming their stickers onto our leaflets and banner; they were also doing the same thing to the Conservatives.
We spoke to the Union staff, and with their keen and rapid help, it was swiftly stopped. Putting aside the damage to our supplies, we persisted in our original aim of letting as many students as possible know why we believe they can look forward to a brighter future outside the EU.
And that was that – until the end of the day, at least, because of course, they could not resist one final, futile gesture.
As we were packing away, they decided to stand in front of our stall, holding their red and black flag. It angered me at first, but I quickly realised that, as they were doing this at a time when very few students were still present, their only possible aim was to provoke a reaction, which I was not prepared to give them.
Confronted by a few of the Badger’s budding journalists, they declared their belief that UKIP (a party which achieved 3.8m votes in the general election) should not be allowed a society at Sussex.
Their reason for this claim? Well, it essentially boiled down to the fact that they disagree with us. I here appeal to anyone reading this: do you think you have the intellectual capacity to be trusted with a vote?
I believe you do, but the Anarchist Society clearly do not.
By attempting to silence their opponents, they reveal their patronising and supremacist attitude towards students at this university. As free citizens of this society, you have the right to cast your vote for whomever you choose – and in order to make your decision, you should have access to the opinions, ideas and information available to you.
The Anarchists’ attempt to silence those they disagree with is nothing short of saying to you students of Sussex that you should not hear the full range of views on offer, because you cannot be trusted to agree with what the Anarchists say.
It is insulting, dangerous, and totalitarian.
And it is not the UKIP Students Society that is the sole victim of this. They have inflicted this upon anyone who disagrees with them – and it is we in UKIP who have been on the lighter end of it.
Just last year, Anarchists forced their way into a meeting of the Socialist Workers Students Society, with whom they had a petty squabble, stole the books they were selling, and burned them outside.
I may disagree with the Socialists, but I will defend to my dying day their right to express their views, and your right to hear them.
In conclusion, I feel it is incumbent upon me to stand up for all on campus who feel they have the right to make up their own mind by saying this: no, Anarchists, it is not we who should not be allowed a society here, it is you.
You are thuggish, violent, immature, and your desperation to silence your opponents reveals your own insecurity about the fatal flaws in your arguments.
The only reason you would engage in the petty intimidation that you do is that you feel utterly incapable of defeating your opponents in reasoned, fair debate.
You spend much of your time (allegedly) protesting against fascism – and this is commendable. But if you are truly opposed to fascism, you should brush up on your history, and read about the last guy who burnt books.