Friday, 1 September 2017

UKIP Leadership Hustings - Report

A regional leadership hustings was held in the Christian Centre at Dorking on Thursday evening. The meeting followed the usual hustings format of statements from each candidate, followed by a question and answer session, before closing statements from each candidate.

Ben Walker was first to speak and talked about the need for a grassroots up party and reform of the NEC. He then announced that he had decided to step down from the leadership contest and would be supporting Jane Collins from now on. He also stated that David Coburn and Marion Mason who had recently stood down would also be supporting Jane Collins.

That left 7 candidates and first to go was Peter Whittle. He said that it had been a mistake to stand down candidates at the General Election and that from now on UKIP should aim to field candidates everywhere. He planned to set up a UKIP Media Unit. His vision for the future of UKIP was to complete Brexit and then reverse the legacy of the EU by creating a more democratic society which valued British traditions, the rule of law and free speech. In his closing remarks he also talked about his parents and how they would have been UKIP if they were still around.

Next was Anne-Marie Waters who talked about how women were not safe from sexual harassment and rape by immigrants. She also promised to let the members decide about reform of the NEC. She then had an argument with the Chair about the time she was allowed to speak.

Jane Collins emphasised that she was leading a team and not a lone player. She discussed reform of the NEC and the need for UKIP to improve on messaging, media and fundraising. Her vision for the future was to complete Brexit and then deal with issues such as immigration, fisheries and HS2.

Henry Bolton started off by admitting that he used to work for the EU and then told a story about two Belgians discussing the re-appearance of the 'British Lion' (Brexit). He saw Brexit as being the core purpose of UKIP and an opportunity to give a voice to the people. He said the UKIP organisation was too centred on Brussels at present and that he wanted to see regional representation on the NEC. He was then interrupted by Anne-Marie who accused him of making allegations, about her, behind peoples backs. Henry responded that everything that he said was on the record before the Chair intervened.

David Kurten said that Brexit was the current priority but that in the future Education, Immigration and the NHS should be at the centre of UKIP policy. He then talked about the need to provide an opposition to the 'cultural Marxists' who wanted to deconstruct society. As an example, he said it was 'evil' that primary school children were being confused about gender identity issues. In his closing remarks he pointed out that UKIP got almost 4 million votes in 2015 and that, despite a poor result in 2017, those people were waiting for a reason to vote for UKIP again.

John Rees-Evans could not be present due to the recent death of his Father. His representative read a statement which started off by saying that only Anne-Marie Waters and JRE were offering radical enough leadership to save UKIP and that the other candidates would simply lead the party into decline. He then discussed the need for reform of the political system in the UK in order to provide 'direct democracy'.

Aidan Powlesland was the last candidate to speak, as he had been held up in traffic. He said that he would open up spokesman positions to ordinary members instead of MEPs. He also talked about the need to attract donors and the need for more direct democracy in UKIP.

Marion Mason then made a brief statement regarding her withdrawal from the contest and how she was now supporting Jane Collins.

During the Q & A session, Peter Whittle was accused of making personal attacks on JRE and David Kurten. Peter responded that as he was gay he had taken exception to some of the things that had been said. David Kurten said that as a Christian he did not accept gay marriage but that he was the victim of a 'hatchet job' by Pink News which had misrepresented what he had actually said. The Chair then intervened to move things to another topic.

The meeting moved on to brief final statements before closing.

Ken McNair

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