Good morning, everybody!
It’s the second day of Conference, and members are slowly trickling in. There will be more interesting speeches by outstanding speakers – we hope to get the videos of Neil Hamilton’s speech which got a standing ovation, I was told; that of Paul Oakleys on immigration which as praised by everybody, and of course Gerard’s speech – and the videos will also be forthcoming.
Also, to whet your appetite and make you keep looking: I’ve met ‘Count Dankula’ and have his permission to republish his videos relevant to free speech. So watch this space!
As many of you knew – there was the Gala Dinner last evening. Something happened … Before pudding, we always have the speeches. First up was Nigel Farage. He gave a great speech, very well received – but then, before Gerard had walked to the back to give his speech. I didn’t see it, having sat right at the back.
On a more cheerful note (sorry, David, I simply cannot resist!): when our Party Chairman Tony McIntyre had some difficulties with the microphone, David (who sat opposite me at the dinner table) cheerful sang “oh Tony Toneee” …
Stand by for updates.
This is Duty Editor Mark Angelides reporting from the event…
A Battle for the Soul of UKIP?
UKIP hosted a Gala dinner last night that was in part to celebrate 25 years since the birth of the party, but also an opportunity to thank those who have given so much of their time, efforts, and of course, funds to keeping UKIP going through the fat times and the lean.
Among the otherwise jolly festivities, food, drink (plenty of drink), and auction fun, there were speeches; two of particular note. Nigel Farage and Gerard Batten spoke briefly about the direction and history of the party, and what was revealed was two very different visions for the future.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main area of difference and contention was regarding Tommy Robinson. Nigel spoke passionately about being a leader and about being human, stating that it is always possible to make mistakes. He went on to highlight what he saw as one of his greatest (and most correct) decision as the leader… and that was to ban from membership all those that have previously been members of the BNP and EDF. He explained that it is not a question of having one person join, it is the people who will follow on behind, and the damage that would do to the carefully built reputation of UKIP.
Gerard, on the other hand, spoke about making decisions being the main role of a leader, and that how (in as many words) bringing in those who have been left out in the cold would be good for the party.
The audience reaction was enthusiastic for both speakers, showing that perhaps there is a real divide within the party over the issue of Mr Robinson. The question remaining is whether this divide could prove to be fatal? Is the issue of a single man being allowed to join the party enough to create a serious schism?
Yet this is not doomsaying. There is no need for a Catholic style schism within the root and branch of the party. UKIP has always been the party of common sense, and common sense tells us that adults can disagree with each other and still work towards a common goal.
Where do you stand? Let us know in the comments section!