Brian Otridge continues his report on the party’s Spring Conference – Part one here.
David Kurten – Education and Apprenticeships
He was in the graveyard slot, but his interesting and animated speech kept us awake! He outlined problems with medical doctor training: there were simply not enough doctors trained and retained in the UK: measures were needed to reduce massive overseas recruitment.
He explained the demographic bulge to us. Classes for 12- to 17-year-olds are relatively small, while there has been an explosion of primary school children in the five-to-nine demographic, resulting in overcrowded schools. This bulge would hit comprehensives in two years, requiring half a million more school places. A looming disaster presented an opportunity for UKIP to propose the building of new grammar and vocational schools so all children had the best chances of career success and social mobility. He stressed this needed to be combined with an improved careers advice service, free of political bias.
On top of that we had even more jobs becoming graduate-only: Nurses had already gone that way, and now police were to replace Police Training Academy education with degrees. UKIP had to oppose this: these were practical not academic professions. Universities needed to become lean and mean too, focusing on high-value subjects and opening the minds of students, not closing them with ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’.
Politically-correct sex education of young children was totally inappropriate, eradicating words such as ‘mother’ and ‘father’ and exploring 47 ‘genders’ now defined. UKIP would propose a common-sense citizenship syllabus and fight political correctness.
Patrick O’Flynn MEP – Media and Sport
A former newspaperman, Patrick advised Paul Nuttall on that area. He proposed that if the BBC wanted to retain its licence fee, it had to become truly unbiased and even-handed in all areas.
Julia Reid MEP – Environment
She talked about EU environmental legislation: While some was helpful, such as measures enabling cleaner rivers and coastlines, most was detrimental. She mentioned legislation relating to climate change and carbon taxes, where they had ‘named and shamed’ one gas (CO2), beneficial to plants and trees, leading to measures promoting diesel vehicles spewing out noxious, harmful particulate matter. In the UK, diesel vehicles had risen from 1.6 million to 11 million, 33% of all vehicles. Priorities had to change. A major contributor to smog as the wood-burning stove, now fashionable after less-harmful coal fires had been banned in many areas, and most firewood was now imported. She ended on the demonisation of the incandescent light bulb, which had actually helped heat houses but had been replaced with extremely expensive bulbs full of noxious materials which had caused increases in the use of gases and oils for heating!
Jane Collins MEP – Home Affairs
She highlighted the “import” of criminals from the EU, and the way the legal system regarded the criminal’s comfort and safety more than the victim. The Border force had been reduced: the UK was down to 3 coastal patrol vessels and morale was at rock-bottom. Mrs May also seems to want post-Brexit EU immigration schemes and UKIP should argue against those and continued membership of the European Arrest Warrant, Frontex and Europol, which required EU law to have primacy.
Ernie Warrender – Small Business
Ernie told us small business was effectively HMRC’s cash cow. Small business rates were being clobbered while outfits like Amazon and Sports Direct got sweetheart deals. All the “legacy” party small business spokespeople were Remainers and big business could afford to lobby the EU, so the deck was stacked – UKIP had to represent SMEs, which employed 15 million people and created most new jobs.
Margot Parker MEP – Women and Equalities
Margot stated that UKIP did not seek quotas, but that everyone has a chance of whatever sex, race or creed. One of the main barriers to a large number of women now were cultural ones imposed in certain communities. UKIP will be the champion of such women, to free them from such cultural ties. Meanwhile, feminists had gone totally astray through political correctness, picking on minor transgressions of British males (e.g. man-spreading) while ignoring the widespread abuse of women in the name of Islam, for example.
Jim Carver MEP – Foreign Affairs
He predicted that after the earthquakes of Brexit, Trump and Italian of 2016, 2017 would be a series of after-shocks: Netherlands, Germany, Austria and France. Meanwhile, the EU had managed to foolishly pick fights with the USA and Russia, while destabilising NATO with its proposed EU army and not committing to 2% of GDP on defence.
For Britain, Jim argued that we should seek:
- Bilateral agreements with other states
- A close relationship with the USA
- Revitalize the Commonwealth, many of whom are now dynamic states
Bill Etheridge MEP – Defence
Bill spoke passionately without notes on defence, a subject he admitted to being new to. However, he pledged strong support for our armed forces:
- They must not be persecuted by the law for doing their jobs
- We must stick to the 2% NATO commitment
- The navy cannot raise a task force any more and this must be rectified (and put planes on the new aircraft carriers)
- We are at historically low levels of army manning and this must be rectified
He ended by echoing Trump’s “peace through strength” rhetoric and quipped that Guy Verhofstadt advocacy of an EU army prompted a thought of: “Guy must be high!”
Stuart talked his way through some slides, making these main points:
- The export of live animals for slaughter must be banned
- The UK has different soil to most of Europe and we need tailor-made rules on nitrates
- Food labelling must show the true origin of food
- The EU basic payment needs to be replaced with an ongoing tapered UK subsidy related to output, not other irrelevant factors.
- The requirement for vets in UK abattoirs is ridiculous, positions not being filled – there was nothing wrong with the former “Meat inspector” system.
- The EU-mandated handling of Avian flu was an inefficient and expensive process and needs overhauling.
Peter Whittle London AM – Culture
Peter stressed that the multiculturalism experiment had clearly failed and debate stifled through political correctness. UKIP had to uphold the right of free speech as now people do not even know what they are allowed to say. There must be an opportunity to criticize and mock all religions in particular, whilst at present one religion enjoyed unofficial blasphemy laws through the application of “hate speech” legislation. We cannot have opposing legal systems and UKIP must oppose Sharia law. And through misplaced values only one FGM mutilation had been prosecuted since 1987 – the excesses of radical Islam had to be confronted.
Finally, we had to reverse the last 50-60 years of a systematic deconstruction of British culture and values, and indeed our country.
Stephen Crosby – UKIP NI
Stephen edified us on the problems of the province with the abandonment of power sharing – the elections on 2nd March would probably be pointless, leading to suspension of Stormont. There was also a growing movement in Eire to leave the EU – it is a brewing storm, and Eire needs a better relationship with the UK and any devolution for the north needs to be people-centred and delivery-oriented.
Neil Hamilton Welsh AM – Wales
2016 historically equalled 1215, 1688 and 1815. While in Wales UKIP had substantial representation in the Welsh Assembly, and could replicate that into the House of Commons in 2020, Welsh devolution had been an unrelieved failure in many areas, notably Education and Health. UKIP held the Assembly to account, fighting Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru and Carwyn Jones of Labour.
David Coburn MEP – Scotland
David Coburn stressed 1 million people in Scotland voted for Brexit, more than predicted, while all the other parties in Scotland were committed Remainers. Scotland had slipping educational standards and rankings, while Scots ‘enjoyed’ the highest taxes in the UK on top of a £15 billion deficit. If the SNP got their wish of separate EU membership, then the EU would have to apply “austerity max” to them.
Peter Reeve MBE – Local Government
Peter was awarded the MBE in the New Year’s honours for his services to local government. He lamented the way that the media hounded UKIP councillors for one minor slip, while giving free passes to ‘legacy’ party councillors. He and Anne Marie Waters now held key positions in the Local Government Association Independent’s Group, and Cllr Chris Wells, leader of Thanet Council, along with his team was doing a sterling job of turning a toxic council into an inspiring one.
In May, 192 of our 500 councillors were up for re-election and 6300 seats were up for election across the country – Peter appealed for strong support from the membership.
Peter Whittle and Paul Oakden – Close
Between them they re-affirmed the belief we had the right man as leader now to re-unite and energise the party. In the last six months, funding had improved massively, and UKIP had a duty to represent working people, mostly former Labour votes, now no longer represented by the Islington Labour Dinner Party. Their final appeal was to make the journey to Stoke to help win and get the vote out on Thursday in the close contest.