UKIP Party Conference 2011
Canvas is covering the Party Conference Season Autumn 2011.
Continuing the tradition of hosting conferences in Britain’s largest and best-loved seaside towns, this year’s UKIP Annual Conference took place from the 8th – 10th of September in the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne, with more than 800 delegates turning up for the weekend’s motivating and thought-provoking events.
The first day saw the youth branch of UKIP, Young Independence (YI for short – yes, we’ve heard all the relevant Geordie jokes) host its own mini-conference, with members of the YI Council, election strategists and other young members give inspiring words of wisdom to the most numerous designation of young members in the party’s history.
The big day
Friday, the main day of conference, saw a plethora of influential speakers from across the continent entertain and enthuse delegates with rousing discourses; Barry Madlener of the Dutch Freedom Party, Nicolas Dupont-Aignon of the French ‘Forward the Republic’ Party and Timo Soini, leader of the True Finns Party, all spoke on their respective parties’ successes and the common goals shared by them and UKIP, to much applause and even some standing ovations.
Notable people from the UK also addressed the conference. Chief political editor of the Daily Express, Patrick O’Flynn, gave a reflective view on where UKIP stands, congratulating UKIP’s current successes and reinforcing the newspaper’s support for the Party’s objectives, whilst Jon Gaunt spoke candidly about the appetite for restoring true democracy in this country.
Keen to advertise UKIP’s relevance in every aspect of life, there were important reports on domestic policies, with particular emphasis given to UKIP’s solution to the housing shortage dilemma, the importance of promoting UKIP’s free tuition fee policy in colleges and universities throughout the country, and the best ways to prevent rioting from escalating to the extents they did earlier this year.
Nigel Farage’s keynote speech, as well as producing a pejorative critique on both the Coalition government’s failures in office and the Labour party’s lack of real opposition, proposed the introduction of an English Assembly to deal with the Barnett formula, which would save the overall union whilst respecting the climate of pro-devolution in the UK.
The following day was in a similar vein, with some excellent speakers (I would say that, I was one of them) focussing on domestic issues and strategies which do offer the electorate a real alternative to the Government’s plans, and even the fringe events engaged in solving current problems such as reforming the voting system, supporting a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, and discussing whether the ban on recreational drugs was the most costly war the country lost.
As with any conference though, the most important part of it was actually the socialising and networking opportunities, and goodness, there were some legendary moments, the highlight of which was watching an inebriated Godfrey Bloom MEP trying to beat some of the youngsters’ records on a bucking bronco (can you imagine William Hague or Vince Cable letting their hair down – not the best choice of words, I know – to the same extent?!)
This conference proved that UKIP is very much an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with in mainstream politics, and are here to stay. Certainly, as the tagline for the conference stated, UKIP is definitely the party that is “Standing Up For The Nation”.
Written by Tom Booker, Chair of Sheffield Students’ Union UKIP Society.
Edited by Ben Mackay.