(Originally published 28/03/22, re-published 27/04 to coincide with local press coverage.)
There are many ways one might have chosen to spend the sunniest Saturday of the year so far, as was bestowed on us a couple of days ago, but perhaps one of the less obvious is dressing up as a Jehovah's Witness and going door to door asking neighbours to co-conspire with overthrowing the government...
Which is not exactly what I did, but a close approximation... Allow me to explain. Well, first off, the Jehovah's Witness part was unintentional. I was not aware that, apparently, they have started dressing largely in black, which I also was (I live in an old stone house which is always freezing, and I have not yet learned to dress for the actual weather rather than the temperature in my living room).
"You look like a Jehovah's Witness," my door-knocking companion observed thoughtfully, as we walked towards a door.
"I don't," I scowled.
"Are you Jehovah's Witnesses?" We were greeted with literally seconds later by the gentleman who answered the door.
"No," replied my door-knocking companion (as I tried to disguise my deepening scowl...), who happened to be Jonathan Tilt, leader of the Freedom Alliance political party. "And we're not selling anything either. Miri here would like to stand as a council candidate to oppose government corruption, lower council tax, get the licence fee abolished, and protect freedom of speech, and she needs ten signatures from people in the ward to nominate her to stand. You're not endorsing her by signing, and you don't have to vote for her. She just needs ten signatures from local people saying she should be allowed to stand."
When I agreed to stand as a council candidate for Freedom Alliance, and Jonathan told me this was the process for gaining nominees - going door to door and asking complete strangers for their signatures - I thought firmly, there is no way this is going to work.
Bracing myself for a torrent of abuse and the door slammed in our faces, I was utterly stunned when the gentleman gave a broad smile, and said,
"Yes, that's fine," and took the papers for signing.
"Good luck!" He waved us off with a flourish.
I was astonished.
"That's the kind of response I got in Batley, too," said Jonathan, who stood in the Batley by-election last year. "People are generally really friendly and supportive."
We knocked at eleven more doors, and of those eleven, nine were quite happy to lend their signatures, meaning what I'd thought would be hours of trawling the streets and enduring demoralising receptions, was complete in under 60 minutes and we didn't have a single bad encounter (of the two who said no, they were very polite about it).
Hence, I am now ratified by the good people of Golcar to stand in the upcoming council elections, to challenge the absurdly corrupt Kirklees council (how corrupt? This corrupt: they used public money to bribe 'social media influencers' to promote the Covid vaccine to their peers, and when I challenged this deeply unethical and reckless misuse of public money in a letter sent to five councillors, four journalists, and an MP, I was completely ignored).
For those of you who aren't familiar with Freedom Alliance, it's a new political party, founded in 2020 out of the anti-lockdown protest movement, by two local friends of mine, the aforementioned Jonathan, and Lien Davies - neither of whom are in any way professional politicians (Jonathan is an accountant-turned-acupuncturist, and Lien runs a plumbing business), but who saw a need to mount a formal political challenge to the despotic, anti-democratic tyranny that was unleashed on us in the name of "the pandemic".
Since Freedom Alliance's inception in late 2020, they have stood over 160 candidates in council and by-elections all across the UK, and have amassed thousands of votes - but the obstacle they repeatedly encounter is that the majority of people on "our side", don't vote and don't think it's worthwhile voting.
A position I am entirely sympathetic with, as this was me as well until 2020. I had never voted, not even in the Brexit referendum, as my stance was, "it'll obviously be rigged in favour of Remain, so what's the point?"
I have to admit I got one of the biggest shocks of my life when I woke up on the morning of the 23rd of June 2016 and heard that Leave had triumphed. I simply could not believe it, and began to reconsider my political views, given that the overarching conclusion from the Leave camp was that the groundswell of support for Leave had been too big: there was no possibility of rigging it. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, politics isn't as hopeless as I thought...
Then 2020 and "the pandemic" happened, and I started investigating every possible avenue available in opposing the draconian, inhuman restrictions being imposed in its name. I familiarised myself with the law and sent out many letters challenging illegal discrimination and coercion; I attended numerous protests, rallies, and marches; I created and distributed an anti-lockdown leaflet which ended up being printed over 100,000 times and attracted the attention of the BBC (and the police!) - and, for the first time in my life, I joined a political party.
I'm very well aware of all the arguments against becoming politically active, because I've made them myself in the past, and meant them, but that was "then", and no old arguments can be reliably applied in the extraordinary world we have lived in since 2020. Once the UK Government 'went rogue' and started behaving like a crazed dictator, plunging the populace into the catastrophic anti-human hell that was "lockdown", we needed a coherent, robust political alternative, because the only "opposition" the supposed opposition was presenting, was criticising the standing government for not being draconian enough!
The state and ruling classes are very well aware that vast swathes of the populace are politically inactive, don't vote, and certainly wouldn't stand as candidates, and this suits them very well, because they can interpret this behaviour as, "these people are happy with the way things are. That's why they don't vote or agitate to change things politically - they like them as they are". I know that this is not the message many non-voters are hoping to send by abstaining from engaging with the political system, but that is how the establishment will choose to interpret it. That non-voters are either happy with things as they are, or are apathetic and indifferent ("can't be bothered").
However, a vote for a party that challenges the establishment, that opposes lockdown and protects medical freedom, cannot be misinterpreted. That is a clear clarion call showing that people vigorously oppose the current administration and are willing to get active and express that opposition in a formal way. A vote for a pro-freedom party cannot be misinterpreted as contentment, apathy, or indifference, as not voting can be (indeed, it would be better to spoil your paper with an anti-establishment message, than to not vote at all).
My experiences with Freedom Alliance have been really eye-opening, insofar as, if you know the world's a stage, I can vouch that becoming politically active gets you a back-stage pass... Last year, I attended the vote count as a counting agent for a friend who had stood for Freedom Alliance in a local ward. At all elections, votes are counted in a central location and all candidates are invited to attend, along with an 'agent' of their choice, to supervise the count and ensure there is no cheating or rigging.
This was a most interesting experience, as - while we didn't see any cheating as such - we did see such things as the local political 'actors' get into costume when the cameras were about - councillors putting on their masks and socially distancing when the local press approached them, and then immediately ditching the masks and huddling back together once the cameras had gone.
What I also learned was how hostile most of the established players are to newcomers. The other smaller parties were nice to us, but we were summarily dismissed and ignored by the 'big boys', therefore confirming that, in reality, the very last thing the system wants you to do is engage in the democratic process and become politically active. This is because, ultimately, we could harness the system to our own ends (to some degree at least), if enough of us engaged with it, and the establishment is very well aware of this, which is why it does so little to encourage people to so much as vote, let alone stand as candidates. Prior to 2020, I didn't even know there WERE local council elections, much less the process for standing as a candidate in one, a process which had been a total mystery to me until last Saturday.
Well, why didn't I know? Why don't we all know? Why isn't this process taught to us in schools and why don't we know in detail how to engage with our own democratic system and use it to genuinely represent us? There is a reason why we are all kept in the dark about this. It's because the establishment doesn't want us to use their own system to challenge them, because they know if we really got organised and enough of us did that, it could make a real impact and derail their plans. A small fringe of anti-establishment voters and candidates, they can easily ignore. But what if there were hundreds of thousands, or millions of us?
The fact is that the biggest source of untapped political power lies within non-voters, who represent an increasingly large proportion of the electorate at every election. Not only can the establishment interpret this as "they're happy with the way things are", they can also interpret is as, "the democratic system isn't working", and therefore choose to replace it with something much worse, which is a very real possibility in the near future.
So, while we have it, I think it's one very important and real-world bit of activism we can engage in. I don't think politics is "the answer", any more than I think protests are "the answer" - there is no one answer to such a huge and complex problem, but there are various different things we can do to challenge the current situation and try to shape the future in our favour, and I think politics - especially local politics - is one of them.
That the political process has intentionally been kept so secretive and enigmatic, tells us all we need to know about how much the overlords would like us to engage with it. A particularly disabling feature of all the mystery and confusion shrouding politics is that it makes people very dubious, wary, and scared of it, as was I. My initial feelings about standing as any kind of political candidate were rank terror, as I assumed it would be far too demanding, high-profile, and complicated. Actually, it's not any of these things at all. The "hardest" part is getting your ten nominating signatures - and, as detailed at the beginning of this piece, that's not hard at all (even if you do dress up as a religious evangelist).
Once you've done that, you don't actually need to do anything else at all, as the main thing is getting your name on the ballot paper, so there’s an option for people to vote for something different. Many candidates do nothing more than this - this is known as being a "paper candidate". You will, I can assure you, be completely ignored by the local press (they're legally obliged to print your name and party in their election coverage, letting readers know who's available to vote for, but they don't have to say anything else about you, and if you are an anti-establishment party, they will go out of their way not to). You won't be getting stopped in the street by angry voters or have journalists rifling through your past looking for any skulking skeletons to haul out of closets - that's "showbiz" politics, involving the big, moneyed, corporate parties, not small, grass-roots movements like Freedom Alliance.
So I would like to really encourage anyone who has not yet registered to vote, to do so, and to vote for a pro-freedom candidate in your area if there is one, or spoil your paper with a message of your choice if there isn't - paper-spoiling sends a far stronger message to the establishment than not voting at all. And if there isn't a pro-freedom candidate in your area, why not consider standing as one yourself next time? As I said, it's really straightforward and non-scary, once you know what you're doing, and if you get in contact with Freedom Alliance (details at the footer of this article), they can guide and support you through the whole process.
Freedom Alliance are also always looking for help and support in other ways, such as leafleting, so even if you don't want to stand, there will be plenty you can do to help out - including attending their meet-ups and events, which are a great way to meet like-minded people.
The photo accompanying this article shows me (in the pink 'Covid 1984' hat) campaigning with Freedom Alliance for the Batley by-election last year, with some of the rest of the team. Perhaps next time I go door-to-door, I will wear this hat instead, so rather than being mistaken for a religious preacher, I will be correctly recognised as a conspiracy evangelist instead... 😉
If you'd like to know more about Freedom Alliance and how to get politically active in a strategic (non-scary!) way, please do visit their website at www.freedomalliance.co.uk, or get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01484 861682.