This meeting, organised by the Newport (South Wales) branch, was focused on uncensored grassroot questions. Four candidates only made the trip across the Severn, so it was not an ‘official’ hustings. The format though was the one we’ve become accustomed to: initial three-minute statements form the candidates, followed by a Q & A session – the questions written on slips of paper by those present. Questions left unanswered at close of meeting are being sent to the candidates and their written answers will be made public to members.
David Rowlands AM chaired the meeting. Present were the candidates David Allen (DA), David Kurten (DK), Ben Walker (BW) and Anne Marie Waters (AMW).
About 40 members attended, the low turn-out was due to the unofficial format of the meeting. We started at 7.15 p.m. and closed at 8.40 p.m. because the candidates had to travel back from Wales that same evening. Thus there was time for seven questions only.
Most attendees knew the candidates either from earlier meetings or from their online statements – readers of UKIP Daily have certainly read their articles! So without further ado, here are the initial statements:
DA made the important point that the leader, whoever he is, has to think further than Sept 29 because the really important date is Sunday, Oct 1st, where he or she will have to face Andrew Neil on Sunday Politics, addressing the nation, not just UKIP. The Party needs to stand for change in how we are governed, with a change of electoral law.
AMW, in a fiery and passionate speech, stated that she was not an extremist as the MSM and some Party members have labelled her. She wants a free country of law and order with laws applied to all equally, an NHS that works, and controlled immigration, finishing by saying that millions of people in the UK think like she does and that by insulting her, these voters are insulted.
BW, after giving his brief CV, said that UKIP policies are unachievable unless the Party is fixed first. UKIP is broken, the Party structures need to be made to work again, from constitutional, NEC and managerial revision to more and better input by members.
DK also gave a brief CV and stated that UKIP must still win Brexit, that the Party must keep being a thorn in the establishment’s side. He emphasised that the leader needs a good team/spokespeople so that UKIP can start winning elections again.
The first question got the ball rolling:
“Will you declare war on Political Correctness if you’re the leader?”
DA: he’d not be in UKIP if we didn’t do this already, but table-thumping is not the answer. People will listen to cogent and forceful arguments but we need to connect to the people, hearts and minds.
AMW: yes she will – and is doing this already. It’s about the truth which is concealed with lies, often because it hurts feelings. Truth is more important than hurt feelings and the British people deserve the truth, especially as voting is based on lies by the establishment/MSM.
BW: yes, he’d take it head on – PC goes right through society, e.g. the police. Agrees with AMW that we need truth and honesty.
DK: PC is cultural marxism, suffocating free speech. He lists three areas which are symptomatic and need to be dealt with: islam, ‘gender fluidity’ promoted by this government, and climate change. Honesty is needed to deal with this ‘parasiting on our economy’.
The second question came from Stuart Agnew:
“What will they do, as leader, to enforce the MEP’s charter (drafted before the 2014 EU Election, demanding that MEPs donate £6,000 p.a. to UKIP)? Non-observance is losing the Party a huge sum of money.”
AMW: would enforce it, MEPs must show responsibility having been voted in on the Party list in the first place.
BW: enforce it, but need to develop other forms of income.
DK: not sure if this is legally enforceable, but need other income streams anyway because we’ll be without MEPs from 2019 onwards.
DA: it’s a difficult legal position, then asks if those MEPs who left UKIP should not have been made to relinquish their position.
“If elected, how long will you stay?”
BW: would be here to stay.
DK: longer than 18 days – for as long ‘as you want me to’.
DA: leaders need a vision but after four years and no time to think, it usually ends in infighting, so four years is a good time to quit.
AMW: would stay as long as she has the support of the grassroots.
“I no longer feel this is the People’s Party I joined. How will you get our Party back?”
DK: Yes we lost our way, abandoned our voters. Therefore we need a new charismatic leader, need to stand in all constituencies at the next GE.
DA: We cannot field candidates in all constituencies, need more new members, reach out to people with a vision more than just Brexit.
AMW: Brexit has now become ‘mainstream’. We lost voters because of disillusionment, because Party leaders are speaking to the MSM/focus groups and not to the people, they’re living in the establishment bubble. We have to get back to talking to people, with passion.
BW: The real failure after Brexit was party management: we became the one-trick-pony. His strategy: remove the Top Management, we need a massive purge, sack current chairman and ‘toxic people’, become smaller but better. (Huge applause!)
“How do you earn your money?”
DA: self-supportive; AMW: supported by her partner; BW: runs small construction company, would not need pay; DK: salary as London AM.
“Does UKIP need more socialist policies or return to Libertarianism?”
AMW: Left and right doesn’t mean anything, it’s dishonest. Commonsense policies are needed, using taxpayers money for reform, working for people.
BW: Constitution states that UKIP is libertarian (small state, low taxes). We need to get back to this, to commonsense policies.
DK: is for capitalism – free markets – enterprise, but we now have corporatism. We need to get away from that, and we need to wean children in school off the cradle-to-grave welfare system.
DA: Socialism is the systematic removal of liberties from people to the state. We must not have policies adhering to some dogma – freedom and responsibility for all, but some things do need to be run by the state (e.g. infrastructure).
The last question was on a Welsh issue:
“How would you deal with the Welsh Labour Leader’s demand that Wales should be kept in the single Market?”
BW: We’re out! But the new leader must drive the debate to put pressure on the government.
DK: London has the same problem! UKIP is still needed to fight for Brexit, thus the need for a strong leader.
DA: The best way to deal with this is to win more seats at the next Welsh and General Election by working to increase support amongst voters.
AMW: I’d take every opportunity to tell people that LibLabCon and the EU are on the same page, that they hold us in contempt.
After this final question the chairman David Rowlands concluded by quipping that none of the candidates were “good politicians” since none of them dodged a question …
My personal take: it was interesting how the candidates picked up each other’s arguments and words. They differed in nuances only.
I wish I could roll up all four candidates into one single leader! We need the wisdom of David Allen, the fiery passion of Anne Marie Waters for truth, Ben Walker’s strong will to reform the Party structure and David Kurten’s urbanity and ease, based on a very sound grasp of the problems in our society.
Alas, there can be only one leader – but the one who’d firmly commit to giving key posts in his team to all, not just one, of the four candidates present – that one would get my vote.