At the request of my son, a YI member, the thick West Yorkshire traffic was battled against on Thursday the 8th of December to meet fellow Kippers in Skipton. The meeting was hosted by the Skipton & Ripon branch and I extend my thanks to them and their Secretary Anthony Smith for their warm welcome. As ever, it was great to meet other members and listen to their views, and I shall share with you some of my thoughts following this visit.
Young Independents took charge of proceedings. Polite and intelligent young people. The evening was ably and efficiently chaired by Sarah, a YI member from Skipton and Ripon. She introduced four speakers each of whom gave a short address, before questions were taken from the attendees and further discussions ensued. Three of the speakers spoke on policy issues and one on party issues.
Firstly, Roger Tattersall Chairman of West Leeds and Pudsey, gave a talk on energy policy and climate science in the light of both the referendum result and contemporary scientific data. Many readers will be familiar with Roger, one of many members I have met who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this field of science. For readers with an aptitude for science and the natural sceptical instinct of any true scientist, Roger has an engaging blog “Tallbloke’s Talkshop”. Energy policy cannot be underplayed as an issue. Provision of reliable Energy at low cost is essential to underpin the effectiveness of any strategy to reinvigorate and grow the UK manufacturing base. The understanding of the real environmental effects of increased emissions from hydrocarbon combustion and our response to it needs to be rationally and honestly considered. The emotion and demonstrable dishonesty in the discourse surrounding ‘climate change’, has for too long prevented the establishment of any rational and sustainable policies – UKIP can take a lead on this.
Roger was followed by two young speakers, Nick Harris and Josh Spencer, who spoke eloquently and with good knowledge on Trade and ‘Brexit’, (or as I prefer, leaving the EU). Particularly refreshing was the naturally positive outlook which both Nick and Josh foresee for the future of the UK, unshackled from the EU. What was also striking was the understanding that both Nick and Josh had of their subject matter, which would put many older people I know (including many academics) to shame. We all learn as we get older (at least, some of us strive to), but for men so young, their knowledge was impressive. Their focus was not on the past, or the tedious fearfulness one hears from the professional politicians and political pundits. It was on the goal, namely the strengthening of international relations and the opportunities available to the UK from the return of complete control to Westminster. [If only those in Westminster had the vision or desire to embrace this control] This positive, pragmatic and undistracted focus was particularly notable.
The final speaker was YNL Regional Organiser Gavin Felton, who updated the attendees in matters relating to the Party and the ongoing work being undertaken and planned for in the Region. (more from Gavin below)
The remaining time in the meeting included questions and answers from the speakers and wide ranging discussion, too much to describe and give justice to, but the theme from the attendees was one of positive outlook and the common understanding that the prime focus of the Party moving forward is to develop detailed policy offers for the public, attract new members, establish mechanisms for the sharing of ideas and expertise to enable the Party to produce clear but comprehensive policies. For my part, I feel this process cannot be undertaken solely by a distant and disconnected Party hierarchy, who also have the job of maintaining the pressure on a clearly untrustworthy Government with respect to Leaving the EU. The leadership must be guided and advised with the expertise within the grassroots and have the mechanisms to access that expertise.
I asked Gavin to give me his two big ‘takeaways’ from the meeting. Here’s his response:
“Firstly, we need a new media platform as we all know, but John Rees Evans needs to be involved. Secondly, as Paul Nuttall has promised, we need policy teams.”
A non-member attended the meeting, an enthusiastic campaigner for the Leave campaign. Her feedback was to the point. Education, training, skills and jobs – with an emphasis on jobs and building up the manufacturing base. As a party we must have a positive message for the people backed by a plan as to how UKIP will harness the industrial nature of the UK and its people, and guide the UK on a productive and prosperous pathway.
Maximising inclusivity, openness and involvement with the party and getting our media use professionalised and effective. We must use the skills that are clearly available. The positive input that John Rees Evans brought to the leadership election should be noted and utilised. I hope the leadership harness John’s undoubted skills in this area of activity and quickly determine an approach that political parties in other countries have shown to work in engaging and including ordinary people in the political process.