One of the attractions of going to Conference is the opportunity to meet so many other grassroot members one would never get to meet otherwise. It’s the opportunity to chat face-to-face, air opinions and learn what others feel are as important as the issues which occupied us during the leadership campaign.

Here are my personal impressions – there will be reports on what happened before and after the new leader was announced in another place.

So first off – what were members talking about when the doors finally opened on Friday?

The weather!

Bournemouth had been hit by a most magnificent thunderstorm in the early hours which woke all up who had spent the night in various guest houses and hotels in Bournemouth. Depending on how well one slept, that was around 12.30 a.m. to 1 a.m. By that time, the storm was raging, the lightning strikes were blinding and the thunder was waking the dead. Oh – and car alarms went off right, left and centre.

Surprisingly, in spite of that sleep deprivation members were in a wonderful mood, not even grumbling that much when doors were opened after a 10-minute delay.

The Press was storming in in full force – their queue seemingly as long as the first lot of members coming in early.

And then there came even more to attend … ‘full house’ doesn’t begin to describe it, and after the coffee break on Friday morning simply everyone had piled in to listen to Nigel’s last speech. Were it not for health & safety, I bet people would have been sitting and standing on top of each other. I’m not the only one who thought I’d never seen the like …!

And then our new leader was announced – Diane James.

Sitting in the audience, talking to members standing in the queues for coffee and later for drinks, the general opinion was that we must now stop the squabbling, that we must unite behind Diane, that we have to wait and see how she is going to set about doing what she promised – and that she deserves to be given the 100 days free of critiques and harangues we extend to all newly elected leaders and politicians.

But there were other issues which came up in informal talks amongst members. Now that we’re off to a new start, many feel it is high time to stop glancing over our shoulders at what the MSM are saying about us. Many had seen the scurrilous articles about Diane and Nigel already in the Saturday papers. Certainly, it didn’t take the MSM long to try and find something so as not to address actual politics.

Many think that this will never change and that we and our leaders really ought to stop being afraid of the MSM and not speaking out forcefully on issues such as uncontrolled mass immigration and the effect a certain group of immigrants have on our communities.

We’ve already been labelled as xenophobic, racist islamophobes – so what more can they smear us with if we now speak out fearlessly and forcefully?

It’s not we grassroots who bring the party in disrepute, some said, but those who first join UKIP from the Tory Party and now desert us, because, with Brexit won, UKIP ‘isn’t needed’ any longer.

How much it is needed was made clear for example by Paul Nuttall’s last speech as deputy leader watch the video again if you haven’t seen it.

Of course, politics and especially UKIP Party politics were always talked about, but sadly there was an ugly feeling to it, with some members thinking the time has now come for a witch hunt, for a purge, for getting rid of those seen as anti-Faragists, naming no names.

Apparently, it hasn’t occurred to those being so loud in expressing their hatred that they are behaving exactly like those people who used to gather outside Conference venues demanding the removal, by force if necessary (remember all the death threats sent to Nigel?).

That reminds me of another thing … where was Hate & Hope, where were the UAF thugs?

Nowhere to be seen, that’s where!

All the conferences and regional conferences I attended in the past when possible were ‘blessed’ with their attendance. In Margate, we even had to leave the venue on a different route so as to prevent ‘clashes’ … have we become so insignificant to them, or are they now spending all their efforts on dismantling the Labour Party?

That absence, while very welcome indeed, was certainly noteworthy. (Well, of course, it could also have been due to the fact that the Metropolitan MSM have written us off, or that the rent-a-mob crowd has now other things to occupy them, like marching again and again for ‘Remain’, and never mind that we won that referendum on June 23rd …

I mustn’t forget to mention that speaker after speaker, Nigel of course first and foremost amongst them, paid warm and fulsome tribute to us, the grassroots, the foot-soldiers who won Brexit. Yes, that praise was fully deserved. All who were in the audience had been working in whichever way they could for these long hard months and weeks, as had all those who couldn’t make it to Bournemouth. The leaders, past and present, know full well that without us this would not have happened. So that accolade to us grassroot members was indeed fully deserved.

I did have to leave early on Saturday, but since we’re British, we must talk about the weather again, mustn’t we! After the thunderstorm, it was cool and sunny and glorious and couldn’t have been better. Mind, the sea wind was a bit brisk for those not used to it – still, the places on the outside terraces during the coffee- and tea-breaks were always eagerly snapped up.

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