EFDD Reception. Henry makes his mark. UKIP ready for the future!
I am not sure why I was invited to an event by the EFDD but given the star attraction was billed as one “Nigel Farage” I could not resist. I did not know what to expect and had to hurry there straight from another meeting. Canapés are not really my thing and small talk is not either. I certainly do not belong to the chattering classes.
I soon ascertained the contents of the canapés were not to my taste but I sampled the cheese and moist rye crackers with the odd grape or two. I planted myself at a table in the centre of the room and found myself surrounded by an interesting collection of people which included people who had stood for UKIP in elections.
The wine was rather slow to arrive and I did not want to leave my briefcase unattended. Eventually, though, a young Mexican waiter appeared at the table and I used up my entire Spanish vocabulary on him (all eight words). I even understood his response. From then on I had only to rest my glass on the table and a bottle appeared to refill it. The group grew bigger. The periodic visits from a cheery man from Northern Ireland and his reassuring bear hugs proved most reassuring.
The organisers had asked us not to photograph and I obliged but it soon became apparent that the world and his dog were taking pictures. Towards the end I captured some interesting snaps.
The Groups Represented
An introduction was made in which we were told this was a get together of various parties with sympathetic aims. These groups included the “Bruges Group”. One of their number was in the group around me.
The talk around my table was that Nigel Farage would not appear. He was, as we spoke, appearing on LBC. They were proved wrong. Nigel did appear. He apologised that he was suffering from a bug that is going round and kept his speech short. He said nothing we have not heard before but nevertheless his words were inspirational and drew a good round of applause.
Henry Bolton Arrives
Almost unnoticed the unassuming figure of Henry Bolton had, meanwhile, appeared. He was seen engaging in conversation in various groups around the room. He spent quite a time with a group of Young Independence members. I shared a brief joke with him about the “competition” (Nigel). He seemed well at ease with the jest.
Later I was able to snatch a few words with Henry on some of the serious issues we face. I am not going to quote private conversations. It would be improper. I prefer to reflect on the general tenor of the conversations and the impressions they created. In this case I saw an incisive and enquiring mind at work. This was a man who listened, considered and responded. There was a two way conversation with each of those that contributed. Here was a man collecting views and building a picture.
His style is totally different to Nigel’s and it is difficult to explain how. Like Nigel he is not afraid to tell it “as it is”. When he speaks it is after due consideration and you have the feeling he is not hiding behind clever words. There is no pretence here. He will not attempt to flatter you or pretend he remembers you when clearly he could not. In a different way to Nigel he is a breath of fresh air. When we discussed his appearance on BBC Question Time he was at pains not to assume credit he felt he did not deserve. This is a modest man who I feel is honest.
The Right Man for the Moment
Nigel Farage was the right man for his time. He has stepped aside. Henry Bolton is a different type of leader altogether. My view, having now observed him at close quarters, is that he is the right man for this moment in UKIP’s history.
As the meeting progressed it seemed everyone wanted to buttonhole Henry and to be photographed with him. Two artists had constructed a collage derived from comments made by those who had attended and this provides an excellent backdrop for some of those pictures.
UKIP needs to build its soul. That means a philosophy, ethics and policy package. The job UKIP is going to face is dealing with the fallout arising from the incompetence of the Establishment over our exit from the EU. UKIP will need a carefully considered package of proposals to deal with every aspect of the government of our society and the repairs necessary due to those inept negotiations.
I kept my counsel for a while. I wanted to see how the man performed. Like most of us I was prepared to give him time. I have had a unique opportunity to witness him in action. I liked what I saw. I believe Henry Bolton is going to prove the man of the moment. UKIPpers should not hesitate to give him their full support. If you have the chance to hear him speak or put questions to him then I urge you to take the opportunity.