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Donal Blaney: Remember it's a long ball game

Every week the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of the Young Britons' Foundation, Donal Blaney, explains one of Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process. Morton Blackwell is the Founder and President of the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

I have remarked before that politics and life mirror each other in a number of ways. There are times in life when it seems as though all of the troubles of the world are weighing you down and there is no hope for the future. Many of us find solace in our faith. Others turn to drink or drugs. In reality problems that seem unending at the time are, in reality, never as bad when viewed subsequently. The same is the case in politics.

John Howard was an unsuccessful leader of the Liberal Party in Australia who led his Party to defeat before subsequently returning from oblivion to lead his Party to victory. Jeb Bush failed in his first attempt to win the gubernatorial election in Florida before subsequently winning twice. Richard Nixon came back from defeats when running for President and, subsequently, governor of California. Bill Clinton was humiliated in 1988 before returning to win in 1992 and 1996. Closer to home, one need only consider the political rehabilitations of Neil Kinnock, Chris Patten and Peter Mandelson (all of whom took the same path to the European Commission).

One of the best pieces of advice that I received when I was a student activist (and when I still harboured parliamentary ambitions) came from Nigel Evans MP. He rightly observed that to secure election to Parliament - and thereafter to climb the greasy pole - you needed to have the skin of a rhinoceros and unflinching determination to succeed. You also need to realise that setbacks are rarely fatal.

What resonance is there this week in connection with the topic that has dominated this site for the past 72 hours?

Inigo Wilson's satirical "lefty lexicon" has provoked a level of bile and indignation wholly disproportionate to what he actually said. An intolerant band of zealots who have no interest in preserving our ancient freedoms (and who seem hell-bent on silencing anyone with whom they disagree in any way they can) has succeeded in having Inigo Wilson suspended from his job with Orange. It is more likely than not that Orange and Inigo will part company one way or the other in the coming days or weeks, much to the sordid delight of his callous persecutors.

Inigo's definitions and remarks in the lexicon were remarkably prescient: for daring to write an article that would have not been out of place in Private Eye, he seems set to be out of a job while in the last 36 hours he has undergone a miserable campaign of harassment and victimisation - which, as usual, consists of anonymous cowards posting defamatory comments on the internet and the indiscriminate bandying around of the words "racist" and "Islamophobe" in a manner reminiscent of the use of the word "heretic" by the Catholic Church in centuries past.

The overwhelming majority of Conservative Home readers have expressed their support for Inigo on a personal level as well as endorsing the Editor's clarion call to preserve our ancient right to freedom of expression. If the British people wished to give up those freedoms and instead wanted to live under a regime akin to that in Iran, Zimbabwe, North Korea or any other regime that denies its citizens basic human rights then I dare say they would have caused such an abdication of our inheritance to take place. Such a regime - be it based on the Cultural Revolution, Mein Kampf or Sharia Law - is not the British way. This is the nation of the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and common law. This is a nation built on tolerance, mutual respect and freedom. If those who want to stifle debate really want to see a Nazi or Taliban-style regime where book-burning and silencing of dissent is the norm then they are in the wrong country. True lovers of freedom in this country will not stand for it.

Inigo Wilson has had a week that probably makes him feel that his world is collapsing around him. He should know this weekend that there are thousands of people - irrespective whether they agree with his views, found his article amusing or even think he was well-judged to have written the lexicon under his own name - who will want Inigo to know that they support his right to freedom of expression. They will also want Inigo to remember that it's a long ball game. No matter how bad things might seem now, in the grand scheme of life this week will not look so bad after all. Rather like the Metric Martyr, Inigo has become a martyr for free speech.

Previous entry in this series: Don't rely on getting anything you haven't asked for


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