And so it came to pass that the faithful assembled under the Wanderer’s roof to hear the sermons, verses and lessons of the disciples of the prophet, together with the wise words of the prophet himself.
Bolton Macron stadium, Friday 17th February 2017 and being under 20 miles from my door I had no excuse, did I? However, in not the warmest of venues, hot cups of tea/coffee and the words of the opening speakers soon warmed us up.
After the opening welcome from James Barker (NW Chairman), William Dartmouth MEP regaled us first from the screen with this speech on China dumping steel on the UK. He then exposed a number areas of news suppression and fakery from the MSM, characterising it with Luxembourg’s derogation on open borders and the fact that the proposed CETA trade deal with Canada confers full tariff-free access to the EU by Canada, but does not require Canada to open its borders.
David Sprason and Suzanne Evans then did a double act on Social Care and Health. We now had a situation over the last 10 years where the population of Britain had grown by 5 million while Council funding from the government had shrunk massively, creating a crisis with a lack of care places backing-up into hospitals and creating blocked beds.
Suzanne then further illustrated the issues in the NHS, saying that Labour and the Tories had not only placed funding stresses on the service, but also imposed NINE top-down re-organisations in the last 40 years, the last costing £1.5 Billion. On top of that were all the targets and data collection requirements, distracting front-line staff from their primary duty of care to patients. It didn’t end there – the scandalous swindle of the PFI building programme of the last Labour government cost taxpayers at least £1.5 Billion per annum, paying 6-7 times over for hospitals at credit card interest rates. Also Nye Bevan and William Beveridge, architects of the NHS, would be turning in their graves if they knew the National HS had become an International HS. Her primary proposal was to divert money from the largely wasted Foreign Aid budget into the NHS on the basis that charity begins at home.
The irrepressibly entertaining Ray Finch MEP started with a wisecrack that Jeremy Corbyn would be the new Dr Who on the basis he “comes from the past, fears the future and no one has got a bl**dy idea what he’s talking about”. Ray’s brief was housing, and clearly the blame for the current shortfall of social housing lay not only with mass uncontrolled immigration PLUS the “Right to Buy” programme of the Tories where not a penny was spent on new stock. Now most Council housing was owned by Housing Associations – another layer of bureaucracy and profit. The effect was that in places like Barking, the waiting list was 50 years long!
The always well-informed Gerard Batten MEP was next up with his Brexit brief. The problem we had was that whilst a majority of the people wanted Brexit, both Houses of Parliament were mainly Remainers and the PM had played both ends against the middle. She was still allowing new EU legislation to be implemented, she appeared to have an enthusiasm for delaying even the start of submitting under Article 50 and indeed had totally accepted going that route to seek out the fabled “good deal”. All this could be avoided by simply repealing the European Communities Act (ECA) 1972, thus putting the EU on the back foot. France and Germany and other European nations with a surplus of exports over imports to Britain would soon be banging on the EU’s door for a trade deal with the UK. Britain should be a Lion over the EU, NOT a supplicant to it, Gerard summed up with.
We were then treated to a guest appearance by Nigel Farage MEP who arrived to a standing ovation, cheers and a pack of press. I won’t relate his speech as it is well-covered here, but the tone of his speech was very much “UKIP should” not “UKIP will” but his strongest “should” was that UKIP should not attempt to be mainstream, but remain radical – other speakers later affirmed this strengthened radicalism, emboldened by the example of Trump.
Here’s a picture of Nigel leaving the stage, through the crowd, having a book pressed in his hand:
Then it was the turn of Paul Nuttall. First he spoke of Stoke and the recent issues and told conference of a hostile interview question he’d been asked: “But, do you have the full support of the party.” At that point, in seconds, the whole conference rose to its feet for an ovation, together with the cheers he had not received on first arrival. It was really moving to see a tear come to his eye too. Paul recomposed himself and told conference we had Labour on the run in Stoke, the party of the Islington Dinner Party Set, supporters of Hamas, the IRA and giving away the Falkland Islands, having nothing in common with working people, particularly in the north.
Paul Nuttall MEP’s speech essentially outlined the skeleton of what would be UKIP’s 2020 manifesto – I read it that way and 2 MEPs later confirmed I was right. Here are the main points:
- Australian points immigration system and no benefits till payments-in have been made
- Immigrants must accept British customs and law
- If we had not yet fully left the EU’s tentacles by 2019, UKIP would press for repeal of the 1972 ECA
- Removing VAT from a range of products, notably domestic energy and take-away food (with the “cheap as chips” gag)
- Crack down on Corporate tax avoidance
- The NHS would remain free at the point of delivery and UKIP would put £3 Billion more into the NHS and £1.2 billion into social care, taken from Foreign Aid
- There would be a new social housing programme, with priority to local citizens and service veterans.
He saw the Referendum as just the “beginning of the end”, but with Blair’s anti-Brexit fighting fund and May’s backsliding, UKIP needed to give the government some backbone on Brexit and watched for betrayal – another MP from Stoke would certainly help there!
During lunch, I caught this snap of The Daily Express interviewing a member:
After lunch we were treated to some really good speeches opening up some of the topics that Paul had mentioned, and more. So to do fully justice to them I feel we need a Part 2 of this sketch…tomorrow.