First of all I want to thank all who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this Jubilee Conference so successful: the team at Lexdrum House, and especially the Ladies of Lexdrum House whom you have met when checking in through the gates on Friday and Saturday! Because UKIP Daily was an ‘exhibitor’, we were allowed in much earlier to set up our table and I was thus privileged to see how much work went in to present the front you all saw when coming up the stairs. Believe me – it was staggering!
Also a thank-you to the security people and the police for preventing mayhem and kerfuffles – you may have noticed police officers patrolling inside the venue now and then on Saturday. More on this below.
Last but not least: a huge thank you from the UKIP Daily team to all our readers and contributors who came to say hello to us. Putting faces to names only known from emails: priceless! Talking to you, talking to new readers and hopefully new contributors: priceless! That you all enjoy reading what we produce is the greatest incentive!
Now to the event …
The 1st Duke of Wellington wrote this about recollections of a battle:
“The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance. ..”
With that remark as background, it’s obvious that my impressions and recollections are of course not the whole picture. They are by necessity different – after all, as you remember, the UKIP Daily team was (wo)manning the table in the exhibition space and had no time to get inside the auditorium. I hope therefore that all of you who attended will let us have your recollections, short or article-length, because thus all those who couldn’t attend can get a much better picture of what happened. It’s like getting more puzzle pieces with which to make up the whole picture.
As for me – well, being sat behind that UKIP Daily table allowed me to get an excellent impression of the mood of Conference. The coffee breaks and lunch breaks were the times for members to chat and assess – and for us to listen.
I gathered from the remarks that Friday morning saw two speakers before the main speaker, the Leader Gerard Batten, which had already fired you up. One was Neil Hamilton who, some said, gave the bet speech of his life, the other was Paul Oakley, whose speech on immigration was praised by all I spoke to. Sadly I had to leave early on Saturday afternoon so missed out on the rest of Conference , but let me add my congratulation to all those who were rewarded on Saturday – the Founder members who have stuck with UKIP for 25 years!
What impressed me most on both days was the general mood. What a difference to the previous Conferences where most everybody was interested in the result of the election of the new leader! In 2016 and especially a year ago in Torquay the atmosphere was febrile, not much attention was being paid to what was said inside the auditorium. People were spending more time outside and in the coffee bar talking and speculating on the outcome than inside (yes, me too …). This time round, everybody rushed back in as soon as the sound called for ‘attention – five minutes’. And the exhibition space emptied rapidly. I interpret this as welcome sign that we, as Party, are now back to talking about policies rather than politicking amongst ourselves.
If you wonder what happened about Tommy Robinson: you may recall that in the run-up to Conference, the motion to admit him as member was rejected. So there was no debate on the floor, although I have to confess that I don’t know what happened in the business meeting late Saturday afternoon because I was already on the way home. If any of you have news – please send them in. Generally though most members I spoke to or overheard would not have him admitted – not because they are viscerally against him, they are supportive of his aims – but because of the way this would and will affect the Party as a whole.
This is important given the increasing speculations about a snap GE. As you may have read in Julian Flood’s article yesterday (see here) – what counts are our arguments on the doorstep. The speeches at Conference and the Manifesto which you hopefully all picked up (if not, read Debbie’s synopsis here) ought to give you perfect material to talk about with our voters: on the doorsteps, at your tables during your action days, over the garden fence, at the school gates … but be aware of our opposition!
As I mentioned above, police officers were seen patrolling inside the venue on Saturday. The reason was that our ‘friends’ from Antifa and assorted groups had a demo outside. Liz Jones NEC was outside an sent us this video:
Do watch it please because you can hear perfectly what they accuse us of yet again – and do take note of their posters. These same posters were already seen at the By-election hustings in Lewisham which the London Police then stopped from taking place. So be aware: this is what will be waiting for us round the corner.
Conference, as so many know from experience, are the best way to invigorate members. This 25-Year-Jubilee Conference certainly did that! We were given excellent material with which to go out and convince our voters – celebrating our founder members shows that we have come a long way – and above all Conference showed us that this time round we can be confident to go out, giving the finger to the opposition and the establishment and do what we do best: win over those who have had enough of the current politicians and the establishment parties. Never forget that there is a huge number of Leave voters who had never voted before and who didn’t vote in the last GE: these are the voters we must win and winning these voters will get us into Westminster.