My name is Alan Piper

Joined UKIP 2009

Stood as PPC 2015 & 17

Ready to stand again and doesn’t need the Party’s money to campaign.

But would like to know that North, South, East and West, we’re all on the same page.

This was my first conference attendance (for UKIP anyway,  I spoke at the Tory one in 2001).

First Impressions.  Great venue once we country hicks found our way there through the mass of building re-developments taking place in central Birmingham (despite Brexit!). Inside lots of grey heads, about a dozen stands in the large concourse area, lots of leaflets to peruse, gifts, ideas, etc., great fun meeting people and putting faces to names I’d only seen in print and at a guess, around 6 or 700 attendees, certainly enough to put a decent sized audience into the conference hall. Not surprisingly the coffee break catering struggled a bit when the entire hall emptied but the venue was big enough to cope, the mood was excellent and everybody was up for a quick chat about all matters UKIP.

Format. The format of the conference was a series of speeches over 2 days, most restricted to around 15 minutes each, variously chaired by Tony McIntyre, Piers Warchope and others and at first it began to feel like a school stage production where every member of the chorus had a few lines so as not to offend their mums. But gradually it all took shape, there were some stand out performances notably Gerard’s speech at the end of the first morning session when he and we were able to express our mutual gratitude that the Party has survived and found new direction under his leadership. Issuing the Interim Manifesto immediately afterward, which is excellent by the way, was a very welcome contrast of leadership styles.

Likewise David’s rousing speech on the second day when finally somebody mentioned and put the phrases Cultural Marxism and Common Purpose into the same sentence…! I cheered at that point but I’ll come back to the significance of this below and invite you all to consider it.

There was another stand out performance that first day for a different reason. When one speech was short enough to leave a few minutes available before the next speaker was due, Piers, chairing at that point, invited the audience to ask questions and the acoustics of the hall were good enough for a dozen or so people to ask and receive spontaneous answers. It didn’t happen again and yet I would class that as one of the better parts of the proceedings which I commend to the organisers to consider encouraging for future consideration. It’s also a considerable plaudit for the venue that the acoustics (and seating) was so good.

The course of both days. During the two days there were great presentations and a positive torrent of knowledge, scholarship, and facts, inside and outside the hall, added to supportive filmed pieces from Lord Pearson and two of the pro-UKIP social media stars, Paul Joseph Watson and Carl Benjamin (Sargon..) then in person the “Count Dankula”, Mark Meechan who I, amongst others,  follow on Twitter.

Something else very refreshing about the whole event was the access to senior Party figures and their willingness to mix and engage with us mere mortals. Compared to previous events where self-important pygmies scuttled about like members of a secret squirrel society, the contrast now couldn’t be greater and is most welcome.

The Dinner. Frankly, excellent and I speak as a caterer for nearly 20 years. Over 200 people present, great atmosphere, well staffed, superb food for that number and great company (thanks Peter). Jill Seymour was very engaging, haranguing the assembled company into donating thousands, Nigel appeared as part of the 25th anniversary which was an unexpected treat and while his comments about Tommy Robinson didn’t receive universal acclaim, he’s entitled to a view even if others disagree with him. We’re led by Gerard now, long may that continue.

Focus of the Conference. Almost every speech I heard one way or another maintained the emphasis on saving Brexit and the consequences of having it, not having it and fighting for it.

Gerard made the point that had we won the 70 or so seats our 2015 vote count would have been worth under PR, the Brexit position now, 2 years later, would be in a very different place because the influence that 70 or so UKIP MP’s would have brought to bear. But we don’t have PR, we didn’t win 70 seats, so we’re left fighting over the scraps and by comparison, our current influence is much reduced, aimed at rattling marginal seats and doing what we can. I mentioned earlier the excellence of the Interim Manifesto but, coming from UKIP, getting the electorate to read it will be a challenge.

Save Britain, rather than Brexit

At risk of being shot down, I suggest there’s another way to fight for Brexit, which could operate concurrently and may exert considerably more pro-Brexit influence, saving Britain (while saving Brexit in the process)

Ed ~ Part II will be published tomorrow.

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