UKIP LONDON CONFERENCE: No UKIP = No Brexit
The above headline was the simple message of a packed out UKIP Mini-Conference held in London yesterday. Pleasingly, latecomers definitely struggled for a seat, more had to be laid out to accommodate the number of people attending. Obviously, this along with other reports of meetings across the country is a welcome sign of the vitality of the Party at a grassroots level.
Gerard Batten MEP opened the meeting with the first of what proved to be many lighthearted moments, likening Mrs May’s visits to Brussels to her visiting an S & M Club. His belief that we will leave in name only is surely what is being played out before our very eyes.
The electoral threat of UKIP won us the referendum he said and the fact that we are no longer an electoral threat is letting the establishment off the hook and imperiling Breixt. None of this controversial. It is not opinion but a demonstrably provable fact. So, what is to be done?
Lawerence Webb, UKIP Group Leader on Havering Council, spoke in some depth about the situation in London where changing demographics are a serious long-term challenge for the Party. Councillors are indeed our future as Mr Webb said, they are the way into Westminster, they are the rock on which serious parties build the foundations of their electoral challenge.
Both Mr Webb and Tim Aker MEP, who is also a local councillor, said that UKIP faced a challenge of relevancy. Mr Aker is a polished performer and his rage directed towards inequality and social injustice is a message UKIP needs to take on board. Also taken on board should be the heavy emphasis Mr Aker lays on door-knocking and the virtues of casework. The weekly canvass session should be a regular fixture on the calendar of every UKIP branch. Local government is without a shadow of a doubt much more corrupt than central government (and look how corrupt that is!) and UKIP needs to be at the forefront of draining this swamp as well as the Westminster one.
Peter Whittle is in fine form on Twitter at the moment, taking on all comers. My colleague, John Holland, wrote earlier that many in the hall found his words uncomfortable but I was not one of them and I saw no evidence of that, in fact, response around me suggested a warm reception for the words of Mr Whittle. Facts are facts and the cultural battle going on in Britain is a fact. As a London AM, Mr Whittle is at the sharp end of all this, of course, immigration is an issue that UKIP needs to put centre stage and the threat from Islamic terrorism is a daily reality for those living in the capital. His words against hate crime and the following assessment of the political landscape very relevant:
We are facing an assulat on our country by the left.
In addition, UKIP is desperately in need of its own media platform as Mr Whittle pointed out.
Henry Bolton carried on the relaxed mood of the meeting, opening his speech by saying dealing the Taliban were “in a different league” compared to UKIP. Mr Batten is surely right that leading UKIP is the hardest job in British politics.
Organisationally, Mr Bolton outlined the obviously dire straits that UKIP are currently in and he outlined how he is responding. Henry is becoming bogged down in the organisational side as a matter of necessity but really it is the province and domain of the Party Chairman who is responsible and accountable for our electoral performance as the supposed campaigning lead and the state of the Party machine. Serious questions need to be asked about the performance of the current incumbent.
When it came to the political meat of the speech, Mr Bolton, spelt out the objective for UKIP of “achieving Great Britain for the British”, a brilliant soundbite that does successfully encompass so much of what UKIP should be about. Getting the politics right is, of course, one, very important battle, however, the clear danger is that the organisational deficiencies of the Party are going to fail to do the political message justice. The clear message of this conference is that this must not be allowed to happen not just for the sake of UKIP but also of the country.