‘Be The Government’ – Rees-Evans Launches UKIP Leadership Bid
The race to become the next leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) took another interesting turn last night (Wednesday) with the confirmation that South Wales based candidate John Rees-Evans (pictured above) had entered the contest.
Speaking at a packed event in Westminster, Rees-Evans set out a bold vision for a party based on ‘Direct Democracy’ where all policy is formulated directly by the membership and then, when in government, all major pieces of new legislation are enacted by a form of referendums of the people.
Rees-Evans stressed the dangers of going down the route of becoming a ‘single issue pressure group’, a clear dig at his main rival Anne Marie Waters, who wishes to re-position UKIP as an Anti-Islam party along similar lines to Geert Wilders Party For Freedom in the Netherlands.
Rees-Evans was introduced to the meeting by Dom Bardill, who started with an attack on the previous leadership, referring to ‘Professional footballer Dr. Paul Nuttall’, two examples of c.v. exaggerations on Mr. Nuttall’s website (The former UKIP leader was on the books of Tranmere Rovers but never signed professional forms and, although he started a Phd in History, he never completed the course to earn a doctorate). It was clear throughout his address that Mr. Rees-Evans considered the current levels of professionalism within the party and its structures to be ‘woeful’.
Rees-Evans stressed the disconnect between voters and politicians and related hearing the same message over and over again on the doorsteps: ‘politicians are all the same, so why should I vote for you?’. He argued that with the current level of democracy on offer there was indeed little reason to feel ‘engaged’ in the electoral process.
He then moved on to the central points of his address, an invitation for the public to ‘Be The Government’ and to make decisions about all major laws themselves. Providing a bill can pass certain numeric thresholds, he argued, it should be put to a referendum of the people using new forms of digital technology, although provision should also be made to empower those that still don’t have internet access. This development would create a ‘counter revolution’ in parliament and finally put the people in acutal control of their elected representatives for the first time.
Rees-Evans also unveiled his ‘four point plan’ for improving internal structures and the professionalism of activists, which as you would expect from his background included a heavy suggestion of the use of video and digital technology. He announced that he would be releasing a series of eight videos during the contest, each concentrating on a different policy area.
The presentation certainly enthused the large audience, with the speech punctuated with occasional chants of ‘J-R-E, J-R-E’ from the floor. It remains to be seen whether this time he can make the breakthrough into those sections of the membership amongst whom he is less well known, and also whether he can win over the significant section of the membership whose primary concerns lie with issues around immigration and integration. If he can unite these often disparate groups he could easily emerge as a major contender.
Here at Alt-Politics we will be following his campaign with interest and will be making known our own views on the situation later in the contest, when all the confirmed candidates have emerged.
Westmonster Dave is the editor of alt-politics.com