It was the late afternoon of Monday the 8th of April 2013; the pre Council elections Common Sense Tour had started the day in Scarborough and was rumbling into Harrogate. The purple-painted double-decker had ground to a halt at Scarborough docks, sleet and rain lashed, and a group of us made the trip in a cold and wet emblazoned taxi. We were greeted at the Old Swann Hotel, the famous old lady of Harrogate, by the local branch. It was one of the best organized events of the whole tour and the Harrogate team did us proud.
There was a real buzz about the place, youngsters were manning the desk, Council candidates from across Yorkshire were there. Old ladies sat at the back twisting their pearls and gentlemen farmers bristled their moustaches – Movemeber is not this place, these exuberant whiskers are not fair weather friends.
“Good Lord”, I said to Michael Heaver, who was setting up the staging, “That dapper chap there is Paul Sykes”.
Paul Sykes, the Yorkshire businessman who had supported James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party, then our breakthrough 2004 European campaign had not been seen at a UKIP event since that time. He cut ties when Kilroy-Silk had announced that it was his purpose to destroy the Conservative Party soon after that vote. A man who has donated much to campaigns that he believed in (The Danish No vote for example) but had never regarded himself as a party loyalist of any party. A cause and ideas man is Mr. Sykes.
Nigel performed as he does, and Sykes sat, very publically near the back but on the aisle. When it came to questions he, rather characteristically did not ask a question himself, but made damn sure that a young student who was trying without much success to catch the eye of the meeting Chairman, got his say.
After the meeting I talked to Sykes, and it was a pleasure. His dander was up, his enthusiasm for the cause was shining brightly and it was clear that the speech had confirmed in him that it was worth talking to UKIP again.
The point is that Paul Sykes is nobody’s servant. A self made Yorkshire entrepreneur he lives by his own code. If he feels something is right then he will say so, if he feels otherwise then he is not at all frightened of making his view clear. He, like all of us in UKIP wants to see this country a free and independent sovereign nation. As he says, “I am in freedom fighting. I want this country to get back to becoming a self-governing nation. That is what I am in it for. That’s all I want. I want the people to decide – and I am not going to sit here and do nothing. It’s my final thing, this – it’s my Waterloo.”
What this shows is that getting out around the country, in an open, unmitigated way has benefits, benefits that continue to roll on when the cavalcade has passed.