Many of the speeches I have given in the past year since I joined the English Democrats have been on the subject of the potential for our party and of the opportunities that are out there for us.
Barely a week goes by without us seeing the evidence of this - the media profile of our party has never been higher and our recognition amongst the English public is increasing all the time.
But as pleasing as this may be, potential and opportunities mean nothing unless we realise that potential and grasp those opportunities, and that is what we must do.
It will not come as news to any of you that the local elections are just over a month away - 5 weeks tomorrow in fact. The deadline for submitting nomination papers for candidates is a week today.
The English Democrats are a campaigning organisation but we are, first and foremost, a political party. We are committed to English parliamentary democracy and recognise that victory at the ballot box is the only way to power for our Cause. We are not in the business of begging other parties to take on elements of our manifesto, though this will undoubtedly occur more as our party grows.
In order to realise our potential we must give the maximum number of our people the opportunity to vote English Democrats on May 3rd, which means that we need more candidates to come forward now.
Not all candidates will be trying to win. Some will be paper-candidates who do not do any work whatsoever but by allowing their name to appear on the ballot paper as a candidate for the English Democrats they will be providing the opportunity for thousands of people to vote for us.
All the other parties do this - they all have wards which they try and win - or retain - and wards where they stand simply to have their party name on the ballot paper. And as we grow this is what we must be doing too, as a political party that does not take elections seriously is not a political party at all.
More seats than ever in Yorkshire
Now this May we should be fighting more seats than ever for the English Democrats here in Yorkshire. Barnsley along with my own branch of Leeds are leading the way in that regard, though we are also fielding candidates in several other areas, some for the first time.
For those of you who have already committed to standing as candidates then well done and on behalf of the party, thank you. Just don't mess your paperwork up!
For those of you who have not come forward to stand please take this opportunity now to consider standing as a candidate in the elections. If you want to throw yourself into it and go out leafleting then of course you are very welcome to do so but we would not expect this of you at this late stage - even just by standing as a paper candidate you can make a difference.
You would literally not have to do a thing - other than allow your name to be used on the ballot paper somewhere so that people can vote for our party. We will do the rest.
This goes not just for people in Barnsley but for people here from other areas too. All South and West Yorkshire has elections in May, and we want to field candidates everywhere. Don't think you will leave it this year and just try next year instead either, as there aren't any local elections here next year - the next ones aren't until 2014, the same year as the European Elections, in which our party will be aiming to return a number of English Democrats MEPs.
The time to come forward is now, so please, if you can stand as a candidate, or help in any other way, either by giving money or by coming out and leafleting or all the above, we need you now.
Some people may ask the question: why bother? Things are so messed up and wrong with our current society that it is beyond fixing. They may think that because they have not caused the problems, for example by never having voted for any of the parties which have caused this mess, that they are not responsible for fixing it.
Some get depressed by the scale of the struggle. Others do all they can to ignore the problems our society faces and seek any escape from it that they can.
No-one is immune from this. We all want to spend time with our families and we sometimes try and forget all about the outside world and many wrongs that need to be righted.
So the question remains, why bother?
I think this question can be answered by the motto of the Morley Patriot Blog for those of you who read it:
"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." - Plato
This is a useful stand-alone quote. This was one of those types of things that when you see them for the first time you want to punch the air and shout: "exactly"! or suchlike, and reading that quote inspired me to get hold of the book from which it was taken and read that too, which I duly did.
Plato's Republic is a delightful work which is presented as a dialogue between Socrates and a number of other individuals.
It begins with the question of what constitutes justice and this leads onto a discussion of how the perfect state would look. Plato was no democrat. He did not believe in what he regarded as rule by the mob, but nor did he approve of tyranny or oligarchy.
Rather, Plato argued that a state could only achieve a truly fair and just political system when it was ruled by truly wise men and women; philosophers no less. Such philosopher-rulers would be prevented from owning property or enjoying any of the trappings of wealth. They would be prevented from having a family in the traditional sense, and would have far less freedom in their everyday lives than merchants or tradesmen.
Plato argued that such a system would ensure that those in power would be the right kind of people to rule. Clearly those who seek high office, whether in Classical Athens or modern Britain, due to avarice or a desire to exert control over others, will rarely be fair and just leaders. Their actions will be governed primarily by a desire for further enrichment and the strengthening of their own positions.
Yet if a state’s laws were to ensure that its ruling class were to live relatively austere lifestyles, why would anyone want to govern at all in the first place? One reason proposed is that those people whose wisdom was such as to qualify them to rule our hypothetical state would be willing to sacrifice their own lifestyles for the good of the state.
Such philosopher-rulers would regard the well-being of the whole community as more important than their own well-being. Or rather, their wisdom would render them incapable of distinguishing between that which is good or bad for them and that which is good or bad for the community, so selfless would they be in their dedication to the well-being of the state.
And furthermore, to bring this back to the motto of the blog, whilst such rulers would not be motivated by any material incentives to take on the mantle of power, they would be heavily motivated by the disincentive that their refusal to take up office would ensure that the state would instead be ruled by lesser men, motivated by baser considerations.
And thus, whilst it is delightful enough as a stand-alone statement, our quote can be appreciated further when it is looked at in the wider context in which it was first formulated.
Now Plato's ideal state remains elusive and there are obviously significant problems as to how such a state would be constructed, but the basic principle I've discussed here boils down to this:
The current British state is rotten through and through because it is governed by the wrong people, and it is governed by the wrong people because the good people in our society have allowed this to happen.
This has been an example of the sentiments expressed in the oft-quoted phrase attributed to Edmund Burke that:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.The very fact that you are here today is proof enough that you are the sort of person who cares enough about our people to sacrifice your free time to attend a political meeting. None of you are being paid to be here and none of you will be here with a mind to future riches coming as a result of you being involved in this party. Being involved in this business costs you time and money and effort and sometimes heartache but you do it out of a love of our country and its people.
In short, you are the opposite of those who actually rule our current society, and this is why things are in such a mess.
This is why all right thinking people are obliged to take an interest in politics and engage in the political process however we can - standing as a candidate in the elections is one example of that. This doesn't have to take over your life, but politics should at least be part of your life, because the alternative is to allow all the wrong people into power.
This has a negative effect of us all, I don' think anyone here has enough money that they can afford to insulate themselves from the sickness of today's society - we owe it to our children to give them a healthier country to live in than the one which we have inherited.
A report of the meeting will be on the English Democrats website soon.