What an inspirational day. From the first speaker, we had barnstorming speech after barnstorming speech, culminating with Nigel Farage in cracking form (which you can see here, if you missed it).
After a warm welcome to Doncaster (including mention of the 20+ Doncaster council employees on £100,000+ per annum, while Doncaster has the lowest wages in England), Jane Collins was the first of our MEPs to take to the stage.
Not surprisingly Jane focussed on the abuses in Rotherham. Jane has been relentless in her drive to hold to account those who failed in their duty; not the front-line workers, who were let down by their leadership, but the Labour party in local power and indeed their MPs. Jane called for charges to be brought against all those who could have stopped these abuses but chose not to. Shortly after, the Labour party were briefing journalists that Jane’s comment that the local Labour MPs knew about the abuse was defamatory. Jane ended on a positive note, that with the children of Rotherham there is hope for the future, if Rotherham can get leadership that puts political agenda aside and puts people first.
Mike Hookem was superb on defence. Warm applause greeted the proposal to change the points system for social housing to give priority to ex-forces personnel, as well as a fast track to mental health care. UKIP would also give a jobs guarantee, offering positions in the border forces, police or in our prisons, where the skills our armed forces have in spades would be put to great use.
Amjad Bashir, communities spokesman, possibly got the biggest ovation of the morning so far for a powerful speech on community integration, and equality before the law. He also touched on Rotherham, saying that never again should political correctness have such a damaging effect on our children.
Steven Woolfe kept the great atmosphere going, and gave Amjad Bashir a good run for his money in the ovation stakes. UKIP would bring down migration to 50,000 a year, as part of an ethical migration policy. The adoption of an Australian-style points system received a huge cheer. Steven explains the migration policy in an exclusive article here on UKIP Daily.
We heard from two young speakers on the theme of ‘Leaving Labour’. First Vi Hong La, then Natasha Bolter, an ex-Labour activist who works in a comprehensive school in east London, and spoke passionately about the misogyny and tokenism in the Labour party
Louise Bours demonstrated a superb grasp of her health portfolio, and with such passion! There were some intermittent sound issues in the venue, but Louise certainly came across loud and clear! Another speaker who really took the fight to Labour, she opened with a stat that Labour increased managers in the NHS by 58%, while the number of doctors per person fell to the lowest level in the developed world. UKIP would restore state nurses, matrons, and introduce regulation for NHS managers so that they cannot simply pop up elsewhere in the system after a scandal. Labour also started the privatisation of the NHS with PFIs, that have given £300billion of NHS money to private investors. The lies being spread about UKIP health policy by a desperate Labour party were addressed head on, and Louise said that far from Labour owning the NHS, “the NHS works in spite of Labour, not because of it”.
Patrick O’Flynn will get many of the headlines with his economic brief. There was much to cheer about; the abolition of inheritance tax and no income tax on the minimum wage standing out. Diane James followed, with the promise that the Ashya King debacle would never be repeated under UKIP. Paul Nuttal was uncompromising in his call for traditional, rigorous education to give our children the best start in life. By the time a child starts primary school, they have already been let down by successive government failures. The near abolition of selective education has destroyed social mobility. UKIP will put a grammar school in every town (huge cheer). Suzanne Evans was fantastic on welfare, scrap the ‘bedroom tax’, welfare as a “safety net, not a hammock”.
“At conference, we always like to give new members a chance”, so Douglas Carswell was introduced, to a standing ovation. If anyone can get to Clacton or Heywood & Middleton in the next couple of weeks your help will be greatly appreciated by the PPCs!
That UKIP now firmly have Labour in their sights was clear from the outset. The choice of location (Ed Miliband’s constituency), Jane Collin’s warning “take head Mr Miliband: Labour failed the children of Rotherham”, the inspirational, moving account from Blair Smillie, whose great grand father co-founded the Labour party, on why he left Labour to join UKIP.
UKIP’s new ‘front bench’ amply prove that the party is no one-man band. The strength-in-depth on display today was very encouraging. Each member of Team UKIP knew their portfolio and, perhaps as importantly, were clearly passionate about it (compare the Labour pensions secretary who didn’t know how much the weekly pension was!).
A few of Nigel’s phrases to end; The UKIP tanks are squarely parked on Labour’s lawn…UKIP are mainstream, not extreme…it’s not about right and left, it’s about right and wrong.
Bring on day two.