I’d heard of him of course, and I knew he’d beaten stiff competition to be chosen by the party as one of our top candidates for the high-profile London Assembly – to which he was subsequently elected by the narrowest of margins in May 2016. I’d also heard that he had worked hard and mastered superbly the complex Education brief for which he was appointed party spokesperson a few months later. He was able to buttress his brief by drawing upon his personal experience as a teacher and educator in the UK and abroad.
But it was his speech at the party conference in September last year that put David Kurten properly on the UKIP map for me. He received an astonishingly loud and spontaneous standing ovation for his visionary discourse on the future for our children. Warm, passionate and wide-ranging, it was one of the highlights of the conference.
Someone in the front row said immediately to anyone who would listen, “There is a future party leader” – and rushed off to have his photo taken alongside David. I found myself agreeing with his prophecy.
So when Paul Nuttall resigned in the wake of June’s general election catastrophe, I realised that we are being given one last chance for the party to rebuild itself and find a new direction following our Brexit success a year ago and the subsequent never-ending party travails.
I also realised that David Kurten is the person to lead us into this new future, so I approached him to ask if I could help on his leadership campaign team. When he offered me the role of campaign manager, I accepted with alacrity, resigned as Deputy Chair of UKIP London Region in order to avoid any conflict of interest, cleared my work diary and told my wife that I’d make up to her for any dereliction of domestic duties between now and the end of the campaign.
Why do I support David Kurten?
First, his character: The patriotic British-born son of a supportive single mother and an absent Jamaican father – a formative experience which nonetheless has made him a passionate proponent of the traditional family and a critic of fatherlessness – David has with determination overcome many obstacles in order to progress in life. Single, straight and warm but often reserved in private, he is affable, charismatic and forthright in public – a sort of Nigel-without-the-pints.
David rejects identity politics and doesn’t use his colour to advance his cause. But if elected he would become Britain’s first black party leader – which, deliciously, would confound and confuse the politically-correct liberal elite who insist that UKIP is full of racists and bigots.
Second, his political courage: David detests today’s political correctness as a new, undesirable and often state-enforced morality, and is happy to challenge it head-on.
He values our Judeo-Christian heritage and wants to see more quality church schools built. He has damned Ofsted as a swamp that needs draining. When the government watchdog censured an Orthodox Jewish primary school for not teaching its young children about gay and transgender issues, he criticised this instrument of the educational establishment as “part of the red blob which is pushing cultural Marxism”.
David reckons that no further Islamic schools should be opened if they are connected to Wahhabi, Salafi or Deobandi fundamentalist sects. Schools that teach children hostile concepts such as taqiyya (deception), aggressive jihad or that Britain is dar al-harb (territory of war) should be closed down too.
Radically, he wants to abolish the Equality and Human Rights Commission and return its responsibilities to Parliament. He reckons this unaccountable unelected quango has become a socially divisive body which unfairly privileges some ‘protected’ groups rather than fairly mandating equal treatment for all.
Third, his desire for excellence: ‘Excellence in everything’ is David’s motivation. For instance he wants excellence in the internal organisation and management of UKIP (of which more below) and has demanded excellence in education at all levels.
To achieve the latter, he has called for a complete overhaul of schooling and the implementation of a tri-partite system, with grammar schools for the academically talented, technical schools for those with practical and vocational skills, and general schools to ensure all children have the employability qualities necessary to succeed in the world of work.
Children are our future and we must provide them with top quality education in order to compete in the world post-Brexit. We also must become self-sufficient in skills so that, once we end mass immigration and regain control of our borders, we won’t still need immigrant labour from the EU and elsewhere.
Fourth, David’s defence of freedom: Freedom of speech and conscience are fundamental rights that have been eroded recently by the burgeoning concept of ‘hate speech’. People should be allowed to criticise differing beliefs – including religious beliefs such as the tenets of the Quran and Sharia law – and ideas without fear of being reported, suspended from work, dragged through the courts or receiving a criminal record.
David wants to change the definition of ‘hate speech’ so that it includes only incitement to violence.
He wants an end too to the ‘no platforming’ and provision of ‘safe spaces’ in universities and elsewhere for adults who should be more robust. Control of speech is totalitarian; freedom of speech is healthy and democratic.
Lastly, David’s thirst to rebirth UKIP: The party needs a new external role and direction. But it also needs desperately to move on from the internal organisational shambles we’ve experienced.
David is aware that one of the leader’s first key appointments is that of Chairman (or woman) of the party. Still open to suggestions, he is currently looking for someone who has proven management skills balanced with an ability to listen to, engage with and make a priority of grassroots members – who are the party’s lifeblood. He will instruct his appointee to spend the first six months out visiting the regions and branches, and to then create an efficient effective excellent organisation that is responsive to ordinary members.
David wants branches to be allowed to retain 20% of members’ annual UKIP subscription. This should help them prepare better for elections and motivate them to gain more supporters.
The NEC is constitutionally entrenched and difficult to reform. However, to get the NEC more in touch with the grassroots, David wants all Regional Chairmen to be invited to attend and participate in all NEC meetings, albeit at present without a vote.
For me, David is the man for UKIP’s leadership job. He’s the one who offers a radical and passionate vision for the party, and who has the backbone and guts to achieve it. We have one last chance to refocus the party and make it relevant again. You won’t regret joining me and voting for David Kurten.