I am loath to write anything negative about the party at the moment, I really am. I have, as many of my fellow kippers have, a renewed sense of purpose, I am excited, both on the back of the historical day yesterday when Article 50 was enacted, together with the promise of re-branding, new policies, direct democracy and especially with the general sense of wellbeing renewed optimism and most importantly unity.
The purge of certain people from the party is a positive, a show of strength and long overdue. It has settled many minds with regards to future travel for this party. Open letters and emails informing and educating are the way forward and you are to be congratulated on these steps.
This renewed hope has filtered down to my own individual campaign to be elected on May 4th as a county councillor in North Yorkshire. I have had help, never had much before, but yes much needed and wonderful help from other kippers with leaflet distribution. I am eternally grateful for that help it is much appreciated. The campaign goes on.
I recently attended an event in Leeds and gave the opening speech about sharia law to an assembled gathering, mainly of UKIP members but other members of the public were there too. Anne Marie Waters was the main speaker from Sharia Watch UK, a brave lady and she spoke very well and passionately about Islam and especially Sharia Law….more on that in later blogs. So all is going well, all is good within the family.
The national conference in September this year is to be the big launch, the big reveal. We are expected to attend in our hundreds to have our souls warmed through, we will be enlightened, enriched and thoroughly thrilled with the new direction, structure and ethos.
Or will we?
Who on this Gods-given earth decided to hold this most important of gatherings in Torquay?
It is simply miles from anywhere, except of course Newton Abbot which is within spitting distance compared to most other places. Bournemouth was a stretch last year to be honest. Torquay is in my humble opinion the most ridiculous place to hold a national event, a national event of such importance to the future of this political party.
What has happened to taking over the labour heartlands, when was ever Torquay a labour heartland? Surely a strong message to the labour supporters in the north would be a conference of their future political friends in their own area.
What about the evident disconnect between the party hierarchy, the NEC, the leader and the rank and file? You are being ridiculous, asking people to travel to such a far flung outpost. The party members in the north and by this, I mean north of Manchester, feel isolated, left out, forgotten and sidelined. This decision goes no further toward healing that perception.
A quick call around of my fellow kippers up here in Yorkshire drew a very definite “will not be attending”. Let`s look at the practicalities:
Train from York £314 return, 5 hours 55 minutes each way.
Train from Birmingham £190 return, 3 hours 26 minutes each way.
Train from London £106 return, 3 hours 5 minutes each way
I stopped looking to compare coach prices, when I found out that the average journey on those enclosed human soup sweat boxes, is 9 hours 55 minutes.
The recent events at Derby Cricket club have been well received, the distance travelled for most of the membership is doable. The hotels around the event are adequate and in abundance. The railway station is not far from the venue. The venue is open modern and airy, lots of places to meet, chat, have a coffee or something a little stronger. It is central.
For goodness sake – this is a mistake. No, before people reading this begin to think that I am just a Yorkshire centric, never leaves Gods county bigot, far from it. I just want a fair shake of the stick for people in the north of the country, and by that I truly mean the people who live and operate north of the Bristol Channel.
Change your minds quickly, Paul and Paul. Make this conference our best ever, make it the turning point on our annus horribilis. Carry on your good work in unifying this party, it is going well. Do not isolate your friends in the north.
The theme of Onwards and Upwards simply must involve everyone. It must give everyone the chance to attend. It must not preclude by geography and cost, because for sure that is what this venue will do.