I have a lot of friends with different views and attitudes to the world. I include amongst my friends not only social liberals, left libertarians, and some economic liberals, but also socialist, anarchists, conservatives…..oh and I even have a friend who is a Welsh Nationalist from Leicester (England). The main point is that they all put up with me (amazingly), while I respect the fact that we all have different opinions on life, the universe, et al. Other than we get something from our friendship/association, I doubt you could tell that much about these people from the fact that they on occasion talk, eat and/or drink with me or in some cases go to watch a football match. I equally doubt that you could tell too much about me from observing these people – other than I have very long suffering friends. So I find the following quote a little less than the full true:
‘Choose your friends carefully……You reveal your character….Not only by the company you keep…. But by the people you avoid…..’
No you don’t! We are all more complicated than that and so are relationships.
Okay, so why am I writing about this and what has this got to do with my headline ‘do guest speakers define a political party?’
Well it’s a story that’s been making the news today, when I read the article that quote popped into my head. Have a look here in der Standard (Google translate works OK) it seems the BZÖ are coming under fire for their choice of a guest speaker, with ‘far-Right’ associations, for the launch of their Kärnten State election campaign. Based on this speakers reported history it leaves me wondering why you would invite such a person to help launch your campaign if you didn’t want to be associated with their views.
Given the BZÖ (currently languishing on an average poll rating of 2.4%) look set to exit the national parliament in this year’s General Election, you could ask why does this matter. Well a number of people (including a twitter friend of mine) regularly challenge me about my use of the phrase ‘more moderate far-Right’* when describing the BZÖ’s place on the political spectrum. I also use the term ‘Right Wing Conservatives’ as over the years they seem to oscillate as a party primarily between the two positions (they have tried to reinvent themselves a number of times including as a liberal party and also a business party but they keep coming back to either far-Right or Right Conservative).
Choosing to invite speakers with very different views to debate at your events is and should always be a healthy form of political engagement but if you choose a speaker to help launch your election campaign, then don’t be so surprised that people will consider that this rather….’reveals your political character’.
So I guess its back to BZÖ ‘more moderate far-Right’?
(* In comparison to the FPÖ)