This meeting was rescheduled after snow forced the cancellation of the original meeting on March 3rd. Party Chairman, Tony McIntyre, attended, as did 3 Welsh Assembly members, group leader Caroline Jones, David Rowlands and Michelle Brown. Reece Coombes had been due to speak but sent apologies as the change of date conflicted with his exams.
The first part of the meeting concentrated on policies for Wales. Edmund Marriage, a land agent and chartered surveyor, with a long involvement in rural affairs and British Upland farming, spoke on policies to help Welsh farming and a second presentation on energy, in particular how to get cheaper energy for Wales as this encourages industry. (without resorting to wrecking the beautiful scenery with wind turbines!) He noted that oil reserves have recently been found in and around Cornwall and that there are still millions of tonnes of Welsh coal if the technology for economically viable mining could be developed.
Edmund also believes that Wales has the potential to be the world leader in small nuclear power generators. In his presentation on farming, Edmund began by stating that the 1972 act (1972 Communities Act which took us into the Common Market) was illegal and that politicians had ignored the UK constitution. He also claimed that the rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher should have delivered money to our farmers and it didn’t. Tony introduced himself and said that farmers in the S. West had similar problems; I then spoke up for our S. East farmers and stated that we should have a national policy on revitalising farming.
Stan Edwards, chairman of UKIP Newport, also with an impressive CV in Real Estate, spoke on the ‘Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015’ indicating how the Welsh Assembly had changed a sustainable development bill to one which promoted social marketing. He first explained the background to ‘social marketing’ referring firstly to Agenda 21 – aims, social justice, and redistribution of wealth. By definition, social marketing is changing behaviour to change the culture and politics, creating a culture which can be manipulated by the State.
In the second part, the delegates discussed how they could revitalise UKIP Wales. Wales had a democratic Committee, with a constitution that they also used for Constituency Associations. There is still palpable anger at how, when they had built up support in Wales, through their hard work, the powers that be took an interest and then began to impose from above, with the then chairman disbanding their committee. Founding UKIP member Hugh Moelwyn-Hughes led the debate with very helpful participation from our national chairman. It was acknowledged that in Wales – and we all felt elsewhere, we were effectively starting from ground zero and, of course, there was no Wales committee and Wales chairman now. No structure was agreed, apart from the agreement that it must be decided democratically by members but the following were noted:
- Wales has an assembly, therefore, there must be policies for Wales and UKIP Wales should be internally self-governing.
- Wales should have representation on UKIP’s governing body
- A structure based on the regions into which Wales is split for the Assembly – the ‘counties of Wales’, is preferred. There is currently one county branch, S. Wales East, which is also the most successful sub-region.
- A democratic model for committee, with officers elected and therefore able to be held to account at general All Wales Conference.
- The treasurer needs to be held to account on how money is spent – donors will not give if they do not know how money is spent.
The chairman, Tony, stood up and stated that it was not his job to give orders, that membership has suffered across the country and needs revitalising and branches must be listened to. Tony also believes that counties, as well as regions, should have bank accounts. (there has been some heated debate in the past about Surrey’s) as a professional structure should be in place which can be funded. He drew on his previous experience as regional chairman, of a generous donation being received with no place to bank it.
In conclusion, Welsh Kippers were wonderfully friendly, very welcoming and determined to put the Bolton disaster behind them and move on – and one couple present originally hailed from Biggin Hill!
Lessons for SECOM
- Farming- we have large rural areas where the financial viability of farming has been badly affected by EU membership (my business premises is in a former dairy farm) What policies can we promote at a national level? Can we include the truth about the rebate and how our farmers were cheated in the newspaper? (Incidentally, the print run for the S. Wales ‘UKIP Gazette’ is 100K)
- The tremendous desire for ‘grassroots up’ transparency and democracy and the equally important dissemination of the results of debate and informed decision from the top back down is replicated across the UK. Wales will, I suspect, be a leading light if allowed.
- Some of our counties have been decimated by the events of the last 2 years. From county reports submitted to Toby, I note that Oxon is now a ‘county branch’ and others are, or may become close to facing that option. Should the SE consider a structure that is more county than branch-based?