One of the few pleasures of being a politician (for me at any rate) is the opportunity to speak to school sixth forms. Needless to say, as a group they are always completely certain and confident that they are right on every and any subject or topic of the day. This is right and proper and I was certainly no different at eighteen.
A small alarm bell rings in my head though when I nibble my sandwiches at the post-lecture lunch with the pupils and staff. Why do they all agree? Why do they all use the same buzzword bingo phrases? Right on political correctness is the order of the day - public or state school makes no difference. Indeed, experience leads me to suspect state school sixth forms are very slightly less 'PC'. I suppose it has something to do with an institutional guilt complex with public schools. Especially those situated in deprived areas, an oasis of calm, scholarship and tranquillity in a barren urban landscape.
I spoke at such a school last month, my sixth visit over the years, and as always was made welcome by everyone. A real pleasure. Yet at the sandwich lunch I got the distinct impression that the self-confidence had slipped. Very difficult for me to put my finger on it. A word here, a sentence there. One of the things that made me uneasy was the total acceptance of the concept of what are and what are not acceptable words. We would all agree that there are swearwords that we would never use in mixed company, words that would certainly cause upset and embarrassment at a family gathering.
Generally these words are self edited out of our conversation and need no third party. In our family the remonstrance would always be 'we are not in the stable yard now'. Although quite why the horses should have to put up with bad language escapes me.
As it would appear I am the enfant terrible of this particular debate let us just look at a bit of dry analysis now the dust has settled. My Birmingham speech was a forty minute dissertation on the UK economy. I covered government spending in some depth. Quangos, fake charities, the EU and overseas aid. Incidentally this adds up to about £80billion per year in spending, of which 100% is borrowed from our children and grandchildren. I used the infamous phrase 'Bongo Bongo Land', a very well-known euphemism of my generation as an alternative to Banana Republic. Corrupt, inefficient, anti-democratic and oppressive, probably African. Banana Republic has a stronger connotation with Central and Southern America, at least that would be my interpretation.
I was not alone it would seem. We got 10,000 emails, letters and phone calls of support at my office, and according to the producers of the many radio and TV shows I did in a 48-hour period, the response was the same. We got 47 critical incidentally - they are all recorded for posterity in my office. There was uproar from the 'professionally offended' political caucus. "Racist!" Yet that was not the response clearly of ordinary folk but politicians and journalists.
The deputy editor of the Yorkshire Post continues to vilify me for being "offensive" in spite of his own readership post bag. He is offended by proxy. There is no such place as Bongo Bongo Land and he was born in London, so name someone who really was offended? The real truth of the matter is of course, as we all know, the Yorkshire Post is a Tory paper and it was an opportunity to have a go at a Ukip politician.
As a Ukipper on the libertarian and radical wing of the party, the hierarchy has wanted rid of me for two years. Here was an opportunity for them to try and put the boot in. The overwhelming support sent them back to their dugout. Incidentally, at the time of writing, the EU audit trail has uncovered a €1billion Euro black hole in aid for the Congo. Should I have said Congo Land?
A few weeks later I used the word 'slut' at a fringe meeting. Obviously a joke, long and deep laughter from everyone in the room as the recording obviously demonstrates. Again, massive mock outrage. Shock horror! Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I used the C word publicly. Presumably the PC brigade would simple expire on the spot.
Now, of course, what it is really all about is politics. Everyone positions themselves to make as much of it as they can for their own ends. Diane James for example, Ukip candidate for Eastleigh, was at the meeting and laughed as much as anyone. (oh, yes, documented too), but as a newcomer to politics with an eye to the main chance rushed outside to tell the Daily Telegraph it was "demeaning to women". That sort of deceit and hypocrisy should serve the people of Eastleigh very well should they be misguided enough to send her to Westminster in 2015.
But the great danger with word usage is when some ephemeral self appointed third party takes it upon itself to be offended. This is a popular preserve of the newspaper editorial or the 'right on' TV presenter of whom there are so many. Indeed when I pointed out to such a presenter on air that a very senior BBC political commentator had used the term Bongo Bongo Land last year his immediate response was "in what context?", so the arbitrary subjective assessment was triggered.
So it does not matter what the derivation of a word is, or its definition in the Oxford Dictionary it means, as Humpty Dumpty said in Alice: "It means whatever I want it to mean".
Just this week, Andrew Pierce accused me of being a Neanderthal for making a joke about women cleaning behind the fridge. One wonders if he has had the benefit of a formal education. Did Neanderthals have refrigerators? Did their women folk clean behind them? Pierce obviously knows more than most of us.
Fascinatingly as always with any political phenomenon the law of unintended consequences comes into play. The Guardian, who 'exposed' my speech on overseas aid, put me on the front page for most of the summer with overwhelming national grass roots support. As the Daily Telegraph observed Ukip missed a golden opportunity to re enforce this success but as so often now with 'New Ukip' the pass was dropped to the despair of the grass root activists.
The 'slutgate' affair tried my patience beyond breaking point so I sit happily as an independent. There is now no senior Ukip politician implacably opposed to a deal with the Conservative Party on principle or devoted to libertarianism and radical reform. Is that good or bad for British Politics? You will write and tell me won't you? I know you will.