Gerard Batten In Gloucester: A Fierce Sense Of Optimism So Dearly Needed Within UKIP
Last night, I had the pleasure of speaking alongside UKIP’s Interim Leader Gerard Batten MEP to party members and supporters in Gloucester in what was Gerard’s first public meeting as the leader and one of his first chances to pitch his work to the membership.
Put simply, I cannot express in mere words the extraordinary atmosphere of optimism and revival among the hundreds of members at the event. From activists as young as 16 like myself to the older loyalists who’ve been in the party since day one, everybody present quite happily bought one another a drink and spoke of great things to come for UKIP under Gerard’s much-needed leadership.
For the first time during my membership of UKIP, a feeling of excitement surrounds the upcoming local elections and there are murmurs of the patriotic party of Britain rising from its ashes and returning to its former glory.
Arriving at the venue an hour early, I had a little time to mingle with the attendees as eager as myself, who almost without exception could not find a single fault with anything the leader had said so far but were all keen to hear what he would put to them that evening and how he’d respond to their many questions.
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When Gerard turned up, I gave him a short interview for Kipper Central (which you can find here) in which he dispelled rumours of a £175,000 legal bill to be paid within 14 days and assured me that the party is a very sound financial position.
Swiftly after wrapping up our interview, we took to the bar before heading out to the stage to address the members. Before Gerard, Ernie Warrender – UKIP’s SME Spokesman – and I each gave short speeches which I shan’t dwell upon too much, though I should point out that both speeches received a great deal of support and certainly set the tone for the passionate speech which would shortly follow from Gerard.
And then, after much suspense, the speech we’d all been waiting for kicked off to a rapturous round of applause, somewhat stunning us all before continuing.
Gerard was very keen to make crystal clear that we are ‘in the black’ meaning that we are roughly breaking even financially, an achievement which was clearly very important to him and one which the audience couldn’t possibly be happier about! Along with the good financial position came news that the party would be carrying out an internal audit, which should dispell concerns of waste at the top.
While not touching too much on the leadership election, he was very adamant that there is a positive future for the party and that not only was a strong UKIP wanted, but that it was needed.
Speaking of how Theresa May has “sold our fishermen down the river”, he highlighted the fact that the PM had come back with absolutely nothing following negotiations with the EU and spoke of how this proved UKIP’s importance during and after the Brexit negotiations.
But, the UKIP leader argued, this should not take us by surprise. As he predicted a number of years ago in his pamphlet ‘The Long Road To Freedom’, the establishment would throw their full might towards stopping Brexit in every way they could. Evidently this would be a very accurate prediction.
He then went on to talk about the locals where he delivered one of the most powerful speeches I have heard from a UKIP Leader in over a year. He spoke of how utterly crucial it is that we can put up candidates in the May elections; even if none of them win. This would show, he argued, that UKIP is back on the battlefield – and with a vengeance.
After the speech – which recieved a deafening round of applause – we went to the Q&A. Besides one question on Universities addressed to me, all questions went to Gerard. Ranging from the constitution to Russia to party spokesmen, the discussion took a great number of shifts in direction – all of which were addressed very well by the leader.
Overall, it was an excellent evening which was only improved by the Brexit buffet afterwards. Every single person in the hall was desperate to shake Gerard’s hand and congratulate him, safe in the knowledge that our party is in strong, capable hands.