Young Independence is important; most political youth wings are, but maybe ours is just that little extra bit special.
Young Independence, or YI as it is lovingly known, automatically rejects the argument that UKIP is the Dad’s Army of politics. It is the fastest growing political youth wing in the country, with a membership of around 1,500-2,000 and nearly a 200% increase in bodies in just twelve months.
When YI started it was merely eight people around a table with an ambition to change politics in the UK and to make their voices heard. They had listened to what they were being told about the European Union in their secondary education, had sat up and realised they weren’t being told the truth; that the EU wasn’t just a trading block, that the country wouldn’t simply crumble economically if we left, and that the EU doesn’t protect our freedoms.
This summer, along with the huge increase of membership, YI targeted universities on a huge scale. This may sound easy, but we were blocked by red tape at many turns. However we persisted and prevailed, and now have around thirty university societies up and down the country – with YI Chester and their hard working team topping the membership numbers, and Marc Hale and his newly established UWE society coming in a close second.
To those who critisise UKIP and say thirty university societies does not sound a lot, especially while the young Tories claim to have over a hundred, you are forgetting one important factor – UKIP has only been around for twenty years and we haven’t even got going properly yet. Next year when we win the European elections I am sure that thirty will erupt.
This is all just the start of the big political change which we all have been seeing all over the country, not just in big by-elections such as Eastleigh and Rotherham, or in the local elections back in May, but in schools, colleges, universities and not forgetting places of work where we are seeing young people who have had enough of the stereotypical political class who’d rather save their own careers than their country, and haven’t done a day’s hard work between them. I’ve just started working weekends in a local bar, and already I’ve done more hours than Cameron, Milliband and Clegg put together!
Those in YI have a sense of pride that you won’t find in any other youth wing. Conservative Future events are filled with scheming young Tories chatting about the pathway to their safe parliamentary seat. I’m sure Labour is the same although I can’t confirm it – I tried getting into Young Labour’s annual womens’ conference but alas, no success!
We believe that YI is special in that we offer a difference. Young people who once thought that the political class had forgotten them, who thought that the only way to get on in life was to go to university and could see only a future filled with mass youth unemployment, are coming to UKIP in bus loads. They not only want to leave the EU, but agree with UKIP on every issue from tax to education. To those youths who feel left out – we haven’t forgotten you.
A couple of months ago I took part in an interview with a very left wing student blog. The interviewer was shocked when he discovered that I was just a normal person; one which had never belonged to the Tory party, had gone to a Comprehensive school and had actually grown up on a council estate in South East London. He struggled to find fault in my arguments on education, on tax and my pro-choice agenda, and when the article came out he decided to attack not what I was saying, but how I was saying it. Proof, along with polling pushing over 20% in the 18-24 category, that UKIP are winning the arguments with young people.
Why do we do it? Why do I spend hours and hours every single day trying to make the best political youth wing in the country even better? Not because I want to be the next prime minister, the next Churchill, and definitely not the next Ed Milliband, but because I want to be able to one day tell my children and my children’s children that I was part of the generation that wanted a change. In the last year I have done my best to change YI for the better and when I hang up my chairman boots in February I truly hope YI has the fantastic reputation it deserves.