The Brussels Diary: UKIP conference edition
A busy week away from Brussels at the Bournemouth West UKIP meeting and the UKIP conference
I will start this column with an apology for my absence last week. I spent the past week in the UK because I was asked to speak at the Bournemouth West UKIP meeting – around 75 people choosing to sit inside and listen to Godfrey Bloom MEP and myself on a beautiful September Saturday – and then there was Corby, and of course the UKIP conference.
I seem to be spending increasing time and money hurrying back for speaking events; I love it, but it is a rather costly pursuit. Anyway, last week was far more interesting than this one, so I will talk about it instead – needless to say any rumours of “turbulence” in Brussels are unfounded and despite many questions of whether I have gone totally AWOL the answer is no, I have merely deleted Facebook. It is liberating, I suggest you all try it.
I suppose I have to say this because she is our candidate for the Corby by-election but I really, truly adore Margot Parker. I have not met anyone so innately likable, so humorous or so worthy of being a Member of Parliament for a long time.
Margot’s background is impressive in itself; far from being a career politician A-lister, Margot used her grammar school education as a springboard into the private sector, working for and running businesses from telecoms to fashion. Margot has also lived in Corby & East Northants for 18 years, something that cannot be said of Mrs Mensch. Oh and she has cracking taste in shoes.
I will be spending a bit of time in Roger’s constituency office soon so I can spend evenings and weekends assisting Margot’s campaign which will be an absolute pleasure. With candidates including James Delingpole, Lord Toby Jug of the Monster Raving Loonies, and a chap belonging to a group known as ‘CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform’, this by-election will be anything but boring.
And so to conference. I was asked to speak at the last minute and, because I have spoken far too many times on the subject of targeting Tories to defect, I chose to speak about what it is about UKIP that appeals to younger voters.
It was without a doubt my favourite speech so far; I have finally started enjoying speaking in front of large audiences and this one was certainly large – a packed crowd of Party faithful and journalist types. We received some truly brilliant coverage over the conference – finally the main stream media are taking note – and on the Saturday a Survation poll put us on 12 percent.
Best of all, this conference saw even more councillors join us from other parties. One of these was 19 year old Robin Hunter-Clarke, an old friend of mine and someone definitely worth watching for the future.
Robin joined us for similar reasons to me and Roger: the Conservative Party no longer represents the values for which we joined. It is no longer the party that supports a smaller state, lower taxes, individual freedom and businesses; UKIP is.
In my speech I discussed the concerns of younger voters – how will they afford a house? How well will their children be educated when many state schools are hugely over subscribed and the cost of buying a house in a decent catchment area is often far higher than the cost of private education?
UKIP is the only party to advocate grammar schools, the only real tool for social mobility, and we would drastically reduce the tax burden by slashing income tax to 20 percent and abolishing employers’ national insurance contributions along with the death tax. I will be speaking at Conservative Party conference on the UKIP threat and I look forward to a serious debate as well as to seeing many old friends.
Despite the media’s reluctant interest in my party there are still the snide comments about our lack of an MP. Of course, this is far from ideal but UKIP are on the rise, we are optimistic, our poll ratings are consistent and I think in 2014 we will have the highest number of British MEPs of any political party. For a young party we are proving that we have a strong manifesto of domestic policies and are no longer a one trick pony.
To quote a hero of mine, Stuart Baggs of The Apprentice, we are a veritable field of ponies. Corby is a chance to show what we can do and I cannot wait to spend more of my time helping Margot’s campaign.
Alexandra Swann works in the European Parliament and tweets @AlexandraLSwann
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