The Brexit party claim to be democratic but are literally afraid of WORDS….
The sun was shining and the roads were busy as we approached Old Hall. On our way to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party rally . I had attended a prior event with Farage in 2015 at the Crowne Plaza, which was a friendly enough relaxed affair, with Nige happily posing for photos and enjoying a pint beforehand. Apart from the “send em back” chants it was an interesting affair. Fast forward 3 and a half years and with a country bitterly divided by Brexit this was a totally different and darker affair.
“You here for the Brexit lads?” asked security guard #1. There was a big queue to get in, the car park in the field was packed. A group of Pro Europeans were peacefully demonstrating at the edge of Old Hall territory.
I wasn’t a supporter of the Brexit party, but was prepared to hear what they had to say. I had attended many political events in Chester prior, Paddy Ashdown, Vince Cable, Boris Johnson etc. I had attended several anti fracking events, including a rally in Ellesmere Port , dominated by Labour party spokespeople. My conscience was clear and my intention of offering my usual wry commentary on events was honest. But a surreal nightmare lay ahead.
Entering the arena, people were holding up placards with the big blue arrow on and my colleague and I lingered for a while noticing the high turnout and the mix of people present including many younger people. I tweeted this in defence of the attendees, with many labelling them “gammon”. They weren’t by any means.
Nigel and the rest of his squad arrived including former Strictly Star Ann Widdicombe. My journalistic/ jumped up tweeter instincts kicked in and I was snapping away on my smartphone. I am easily amused and its always a thrill to see someone noted in our city, whether its Terry Wogan, B*witched or a ranting demagogue. Someone shouted out in the crowd “he’s lying to you again!” . Security didn’t seem overly concerned and took no apparent action as the protester made her point and then walked away.
More drama was to come as more protesters were removed. I heard shouting from the edge of the compound and could see people being led away. I recognised one as Cllr Matt Bryan, I didn’t see what happened but was able to get a photograph as part of my documenting of events. After I took the photo I was approached by security guard#2 who asked if I “was with those two”. I wasn’t so I said I wasn’t. “You sure about that?” he continued. Guilty by association of taking a photograph.
We were allowed to stay but it was clear security were watching me from that point. The Brexit party hadn’t stated that photography was forbidden at their event and many people were taking photos or filming , firstly of a TV Doctor/presenter David Bull. “It has to STOP!” he shouted about concerns about post Brexit medicine shortages. There were other speakers who blended in with each otter as the lack of policies or actual ideas on how to make Brexit successful became apparent. “Change Politics for the Good” proclaimed the banners… but how? Ann got a big round of applause stating that Britain would be “safe” in the hands of the Brexit party
At this point, roughly an hour into the rally, security guard#3 asked me to come with him as he wanted to have a word with me. I followed him, as the adrenaline kicked in. “Keep walking” he said as I was led away. We reached the back of the compound away from the crowd “no, keep walking” he demanded. I was concerned at being separated from my friend at this point, but was told I was not welcome on the private property and to leave at once. I asked the “security guard” for his name and he replied aggressively :”Rodney Trotter, and my address is Nelson Mandela House”. I was shaken .. I explained that I was an observer, but Rodney was having none of it and I was ordered to call my friend.
“Its ok. we’ve got him”. We were treated like criminals and I was then told that I was a “Far Left agitator”. There was no evidence of this and my tweets had been balanced. I’m no threat to anyone, consider the person that makes LEGO models of Chester as some kind of high security risk… I wondered if every single person at the rally was a die hard Brexit party supporter, or were some just curious? Clearly the party only wanted die hards there and were not prepared to tolerate any views not on message.. I dont and have never belonged to any political party. The Brexit party claim to be democratic but are literally afraid of WORDS. Harassing observers seems like an odd way of winning a political argument.
We were then walked PAST our car and told we could not return to Old Hall property until after 5pm. This was at 3.20. Requests to collect medication from the car were denied. Storm trooper#3 started asking more questions, asking if we were local. I did shake his hand and explained that we were reasonable people and didn’t want any aggravation. We walked off to wander around Huntington for an hour and a half.
Subsequently I had to lock my twitter account due to abusive tweets from Brexit party supporters. My integrity was questioned and my character libelled . The media attention created a frenzy of fake claims, with one stating that I was removed for shouting and being abusive. The CCTV will prove what happened. My conscience is clear. The experience has left me shaken but the support online has empowered me. I write this knowing full well I will receive further hate and abuse, but the truth needs to be told.
This is what this country has become sadly. The Brexit party do not believe in freedom of speech.
Make your own minds up and eventually I’ll go back to blogging about local businesses and reviewing theatre shows.