On the 24th of August, I attended the Yorkshire And North Lincolnshire Regional Hustings for the UKIP leadership election at The Kyte Hotel in Darrington. 7 candidates were present and statements were read out from the remaining 3. I have relayed some of what was said in chronological order.
Proceedings began with a welcoming introduction from Judith Morris, then all candidates were given a chance to speak:
My first impression of Aidan was that he needs to work on projecting his voice more. I struggled to hear him at the back.
He said he would withdraw the UK from the UN treaties on outer space to ensure the country’s rights to what we can retrieve, such as platinum that we could mine from a nearby asteroid. He wants UKIP to search for aliens and drive forward technology for Britain.
I had no such trouble hearing David, he was almost like Brian Blessed!
He said he had been in Yorkshire before and our NHS treated him. He then added “Well, they tried to treat me” which was intended as a joke, but I fear it may feed into some people’s narrative of him being anti-English. He pledged to reform the party, put in place a permanent manifesto so UKIP would not be caught unawares by any more snap elections and rectify the Barnet formula so that funding is distributed more fairly throughout Britain.
He told us we should be running stalls on Saturdays for recruiting new members and suggested that he would be proficient at not toxifying our brand. He said we should not be associating with and being introduced by the likes of Tommy Robinson.
He recounted how he had pulled UKIP Scotland together. He informed us that he fought to leave the EU and for Scotland to stay in the UK. He told us that they, in Scotland, had leafleted earlier than the rest of UKIP in the General Election, which we should all do in future.
Anne Marie Waters
Anne began by addressing the accusation that she has an agenda. She responded by saying “I do have an agenda” and identifying it as ensuring that Britain as we know it still exists in 50 years.
She orated that the public don’t care about accolades, they want democracy. She did a little EU bashing and implied that jobs, schools and homes should be assigned to British citizens first. She said “Job 1” is to engage the public. She then had a short rant about paedophilia.
David sounded sort of overly cheerful, like a children’s television presenter but without being patronising.
He commenced with a story about when he was posing for photographs for a campaign. Remoaning protestors interloped and held up EU flags. David happened to have with him a Union Flag, so he stood in front of them displaying his patriotism. The protestors told the photographer that they’ll keep us in the EU, so David thinks we should keep Brexit at the top of UKIP’s agenda, but look beyond it to other issues too.
He dictated that education is the key to the future of our economy and promised the proliferation of grammar and technical schools. He said the UK imports people – we should instead train Brits so that we, as a nation, can become self-sufficient for skills.
He advised that we need to regain financial and fiscal responsibility. He also wants to fight against the overuse of political correctness, the Islamification of Britain and transgenderism in schools.
Jane began by pointing out that UKIP have espoused common sense for years and acknowledging the horrific events that have come to light in Rotherham.
She stated that it is a leader’s role to provide political responsibility. Under her leadership, appropriately skilled people would have different roles and would be accountable to a reformed NEC. She said that big issues need addressing for the smooth running of the party.
She suggested that politics should be presented to the public in “bitesize chunks”, so that laypeople can understand what is happening without getting bored.
She announced that she would initiate a professional campaign team that would also appear at branch meetings to train members to canvass. She said she would launch a media platform to improve UKIP’s external communications, but that our internal communications need bettering too. She told us she has a plan to contact potential fundraisers and would introduce a tiered system to the Patron’s Club, to make sure we’re on a sound financial footing.
Henry split his presentation into 3 categories:
Context – He talked about leaving the ECJ and establishing a new fisheries trade agreement. He highlighted the fact that the EU is unwilling to secure its borders. He said Britain has disenfranchised voters and a lack of social cohesion. He said Labour are undecided about Brexit (they’ve apparently since come out as against a proper Brexit) and “the Lib Dems… are the Lib Dems.”
Tasks – He wants to kickstart a platform to make us a dominant force in British politics.
Individual – He relayed the details of his extensive CV to us.
Ben began by admitting that people are asking who he is. He answered this question with “Not part of the establishment.” He told us of his CV and said he is a “normal guy” and a libertarian. He said the leadership in the recent past had no strategy or vision and he would compose the NEC of regional representatives. He wants to empower the members, sack the chairman and change our constitution.
He said there are poisonous people in UKIP and he’s had enough! He blames unelected people at the top of the party for throwing away the last election. He added that he wants to carry out a top down reform and finished with his Vote For Change slogan.
John (my favourite candidate) was unfortunately absent, due to the recent death of his father. I think it shows real commitment that he hasn’t pulled out altogether.
His written statement started with a section about Direct Democracy and UKIP Connect. He told us that UKIP Councillors have been treated badly. There was then a segment about UKIP Media. He said he needs to prioritise his family for a few days, which I’m sure you’ll understand considering his bereavement. He ended by informing us he would fight the establishment and urging us not to vote for the safe option.
Marion was another absentee that had written a statement.
She began by telling us she is a self-made woman. She is a patron of UKIP and has been a member for 10 years. She said that the party is perceived as not fit for purpose. She is committed to achieving a good Brexit and involving the members more. She wants to create a new image for UKIP and make us “champions of the NHS.”
Peter also had a statement read out in his absence.
He had written that Kippers are fighters and patriots. His first priority is to make UKIP fit for purpose. He said there would be no standing aside or tactical voting under him as leader. He told us he would establish Direct Democracy, but the mechanism for it would be meetings. He pledged to bypass the media and make us the party of national revival. He wants to protect our culture and deal with the issue of Islamism.
The first question from the audience to be randomly drawn out of a hat was “What qualities do you have?”
AMW: Anne’s response was that she means what she says. She is less rehearsed which makes her speech more passionate. She is also prepared to “defy the media.”
AP: Aidan said he is in a way “like Jeremy Corbyn.” (I’m not sure that’ll go down well with other Kippers.) He wants to initiate new policies on a different platform.
HB: Henry answered that he is relevant, credible and capable of motivating members. He pointed out that UKIP address issues that other parties won’t. He would trigger a debate on what British is.
DC: David said he’s been doing it for 4 years and that he’s fought against Ruth Davidson, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. He told us that he has one of the loudest voices in the European Parliament, which is an assertion I can easily believe! He orated that he’s the fourth best known politician North of the border and his opponents don’t hate him. UKIP Scotland is an organised political machine which is well funded. He described himself as a political libertarian and expressed his desire to make UKIP the “party of the little guy.”
DK: The other David’s answer started with the fact that he thinks quickly on his feet and another anecdote, this time about appearing on Newsnight. He mentioned the Al Kuds Day Parade, which involves the waving of Hezbollah flags. He promised to ask Sadiq Khan to write to Amber Rudd and convince her to add Hezbollah to the British list of proscribed groups. He said that he had got representatives of all parties on the London Assembly to agree about this, which is no mean feat as UKIP is outnumbered in the Assembly.
BW: Ben told us he is like “a dog with a bone” for fixing UKIP, but will resonate with the electorate. He said he’s a new face and will introduce a system for members to propose and discuss policies. He asserted that other candidates have media baggage, with which our adversaries could “kick us in the goolies.” He is working class and talks a lot of common sense.
JC: Jane informed us that she has never been a member of any other party. She stated that UKIP has crashed since Brexit, but the party is not broken and is still relevant. She explained that our leader must be known by the media and possess determination and strength. She told us that she has previously beaten breast cancer and that she’s “in it for the long haul.”
The second (and final, due to time constraints) question to be drawn was “Excluding Brexit, what’s your vision for taking the party forward?”
JC: Within the first 100 days of her reign, Jane would put in place building blocks. She stated that she has “no objection” to remedying the NEC, amending our constitution and firing people if necessary. She dictated that we must attract professionals and that we have lost good candidates before. She said we should be more democratic and that she’s always pushed for regional representation on the NEC. She told us she would establish better communications with our branches, with working policy groups using and nurturing our grassroots talent.
BW: Ben promised a Bottom up reform and a professional policy unit. He wishes to scrap VAT and Foreign Aid, as well as commit more funds to defence. He would adopt a zero tolerance attitude towards terrorism and rectify the crime and punishment setup. He said he would renationalise prisons and make prison a punishment. He stated that we should be the party of the NHS. He pointed out that we have driven debate without any MPs and that we should not pay the EU’s “divorce settlement.”
DK: David explained that political correctness is really Cultural Marxism, designed to deconstruct British life. He pledged to abolish transgender education and return marriage to being between a man and a woman, to halt the establishment’s “progressive agenda.” He said that a lot of “good ideas get lost in space.” (Maybe Aidan has some ideas about how to reach them.) He advised that we should have candidates in every constituency, ready for an election. He also criticised the recommendation to vote tactically at the last General Election.
DC: David number 2 orated that the Tories represent big business and Labour represent trade unions. We should represent the “forgotten and ignored” normal people. He promised us grammar and technical schools. He said the law should apply to everyone, but the police are “terrified” to investigate and prosecute certain groups and individuals because they’re too politically correct. He opposes parents being interfered with by the state. He wants to protect our history and culture and told us “I like Lord Nelson”, adding that you cannot judge people from 200 years ago by today’s standards. He claimed he would make the party an election winning machine by professionalising it.
HB: Henry opined that we should be the party that contributes practical policies and recognises that the members are the party. He said solutions should be decided “free of dogma” and should be the best solutions for Britain, putting British people first.
AP: Aiden informed us that he would promote wealth and creation and prioritise individuals over society. He is in favour of legalising cannabis. (I saw him afterwards about this and directed him to my article on the subject which you can read here.) He said that Britain operates with an “enormous deficit” – he would balance the books and raise interest rates. Rather than have European passports, he suggested we have British passports, maybe with dual citizenship passports for our expats. He said we need to espouse new policies that change our party’s image.
AMW: Anne told us that we as a party must be different to the others, promoting freedom for all and standing against totalitarianism. She claimed that she will say what no-one else will and that she has publicised a full manifesto. She also said that she would be tough in the field of law and order, reiterating that the police are afraid to be called racist.
The floor was then opened to questions. An audience member asked the candidates what they would do about MEPs that renege on their financial obligations to the party.
AMW said she would publish their identities and punish them.
AP answered that he wouldn’t take legal action against our own MEPs.
HB responded that it would depend on the individual case.
DC told us that it’s illegal to force them to contribute and that our central party squanders money. Instead, he would run the Patrons Club properly and find better ways of raising money.
DK replied that Stewart Agnew had asked the same thing at every hustings that he had been to, so it was a “set piece question.” His answer to it was that he wouldn’t pursue payment. He would look at fundraising, including Crowdfunding. He said he would win back patrons that have left and increase the membership.
BW orated that he isn’t bothered about legality, they agreed to it so they should pay. He thinks that fixing the running of our finances should be the first priority. DK responded that he wasn’t asked to pay anything and some give voluntarily to their branches. Ben insisted that there was an agreement and that David would know about it if he hadn’t “stormed out of the meeting.” An argument ensued!
JC promised to publish their names in the Independence newsletter. She told us that the party were cross with our MEPs for not paying, but the MEPs were cross that the party doesn’t listen. She suggested that solutions should be negotiated by both sides.
Another audience member enquired what each candidate’s personal weakness is.
JC admitted that she made mistakes upon becoming an MEP, but ensured us that she would learn from them.
BW stated that his is booze.
Both Davids gave a similar answer, which amounted to blurting out the truth.
HB said it’s that he likes to be liked and he’s “too military.”
AP confessed he could be a bit of a tyrant.
AMW conceded that she is disorganised and impatient.
I hesitate to include the last question, as it was only asked of 1 candidate so it may unfairly skew your opinion one way or the other, but I feel this would not be a thorough and comprehensive account without it. AMW was asked “Was it wise to say Islam is evil?”
AMW explained that totalitarianism is evil. Communism and Nazism are evil. She also spoke in favour of free speech. She received a thunderous round of applause for this answer.
The candidates who were present were then allowed to make a closing statement:
Aidan told us he would choose issues to concentrate on and mentioned that he is an Atheist (which precludes religion from interfering with his politics.)
David dictated that he is capable of raising funds and that UKIP Scotland funded themselves. He claimed that the Scottish manifesto was better than the central party’s in the General Election and informed us that he is experienced at fighting elections.
Anne Marie Waters
Anne stated that she has a “full manifesto” and that she speaks from the heart rather than rehearsing. She said that UKIP gave the public an alternative about Brexit and we must now give them an alternative about Islam, which we must have freedom to discuss.
David orated that it’s been a bad year for UKIP and that the media says we’ve done a good job but we’re not needed now. He said that we had good, costed policies on our manifesto for the last election and we should have pushed them more. He wants the party to be in government, but mitigated that it will take a long time like it did for Labour. He also wants to change the country so that everyone can thrive in their own land.
Jane announced that she has no agenda – she’s an open book. She thinks if we elect the wrong person, it will divide the party and “we’re finished.” She said that UKIP is not broken but it does need reform. She suggested that our manifesto has got to be costed, sensible and do-able. She claimed that she is widely known by the media and that our members would be up for a fight with her.
Henry warned us that our membership and the media “won’t forgive us if we get it wrong.” He said being our leader is a tough job with little time to deliver, but he can get our party back on its feet and reinvigorate the membership. He told us again of his background and CV. He said that he can keep people’s attention and he’s an expert on security and prosperity.
Ben reminded us about his CV, that he would build from the bottom and that he won’t forget the members. He recommended that we focus on where we are strong then build from it. He pledged to refocus the party, taking us back to basics.
Afterwards, I asked each candidate the same question, which was “Will you work with the other candidates in a team whoever wins and will you get 100% behind the new leader if it’s not you?
David C answered that it would be “difficult” if AMW won. While I disagree with the sentiment, he was the only one who was brave enough to give me a name. He also refrained from disparaging her, merely stating that he disagrees with her on too many issues and thinks she would take UKIP in the wrong direction.
Jane said it depends on who the leader is. She wouldn’t have passed some onto the ballot.
Ben gave me a flat yes and told me that he trusts the membership.
Aidan replied that it depends on who the leader is, but he admires all of the candidates and would be honoured to work with most of them. It would also depend on what they say.
Henry said he would work in a team, but backing the leader would depend on who it is, so “most likely no.”
Anne responded that it would depend on who wins as she can’t work with people who’ve lied about her.
David K just said it depends on who it is.
I think several candidates could do a decent job of leading us, while not being ideal for the role. I believe that Anne is a little too focused on 1 issue, though it is an important issue that urgently needs resolving. My opinion about Aidan is that he is much more focused on a single issue and it’s not high on most people’s agenda. His ideas should be explored in the future, but we need to deal with problems that Britain has on Earth first. I suspect that David C would struggle to perform as well representing England, Wales and Northern Ireland as he does with regard to Scotland. I am unconvinced that Henry, despite his vast leadership and organisational experience, has served enough time in politics. My favourite on the night was Ben Walker. However, he wants to do very similar things to John Rees-Evans and I have seen John’s plans fleshed out in more detail. Therefore, despite his absence for the most legitimate of reasons, I will still vote for him. (You can read more about him in my earlier article here.)
I have composed a partial “dream team” from some of the candidates:
Leader – John Rees-Evans
Deputy – Ben Walker
Chair – Henry Bolton
Spokesperson for culture – Anne Marie Waters
Spokesperson for education – David Kurten
Leader in Scotland – David Coburn
Spokesperson for space – Aidan Powlesland