Attracting much media attention, 2015 General Election challenger party UKIP held its Spring Conference in Margate on 27 and 28 February. Speakers including the party’s MPs, MEPs and PPCs addressed delegates on a range of different subjects, headed up by UKIP Leader Nigel Farage.
Making his keynote Leader’s address, Mr Farage said that his party’s “positive” election slogan was: “We believe in Britain”.
Calling for “a politics of hope and inspiration”, he claimed that UKIP could win four or five seats in Kent alone.
Predicting that immigration figures would dominate the debate in the run-up to polling day, he argued in favour of an Austrialian-style points-based system. He also pledged to scrap HS2 and redirect EU subscription funds to the NHS following his desired EU exit.
He also attacked the Government’s approach to aid, and promised to challenge Labour in its northern heartland seats.
Concluding, he said that UKIP had “crossed the traditional party divide” to become “an all-embracing political party”, and predicted that it would “score a famous victory on May 7”.
Elsewhere, speaking on energy issues, UKIP National Agent Paul Oakden attacked the Climate Change Act and called for the abandonment of renewables in favour of domestic coal and gas.
UKIP Agriculture Spokesperson Stuart Agnew MEP called for the UK to regain control of its food production, while UKIP Fisheries Spokesperson Ray Finch MEP argued that the Common Fisheries Policy was creating a “hidden tragedy” for the industry.
UKIP Business Spokesperson Margot Parker MEP criticised what she said was EU overregulation of SMEs and attacked “corporate bullying” over late payments to supply chain suppliers.
Also contributing, UKIP Economic Affairs Spokesperson and PPC Patrick O’Flynn MEP highlighted his party’s policy of raising the Income Tax threshold yet further and pledged to increase spending on the NHS and defence.
UKIP MP Douglas Carswell called for a “new Westminster” where the existing “smug clique” of MPs faced real competition, and pledged to draft an “Open Primary Bill” that would permit parties to hold postal primaries.
Elsewhere, UKIP Education Spokesperson Patricia Culligan said that UKIP’s schools policy was focused on “resilience, responsibility and a focus on results”. She pledged to cap class sizes at 30 and focus grammar and arithmetic lessons on repetition and practical application. The party would also scrap sex education for children under 11, she said. She argued that Ofsted inspectors ought to have 20 years of teaching experience.
UKIP Housing Spokesperson and PPC Andrew Charalambous argued in favour of scrapping Right to Buy for foreign nationals and cited his party’s objections to residential construction in the countryside. He also called for councils to be bound by stricter requirements to look after veterans.
Closing the event, UKIP Deputy Leader and PPC Paul Nuttall said that UKIP was providing “common sense solutions” and connecting to ordinary people disillusioned with out-of-touch politicians. He called for an immediate EU referendum.
Michael Clarke is Managing Director of DeHavilland. His goal is to ensure the most relevant and highest-quality content provision to help public affairs professionals track, monitor and evaluate the impact of the political environment, enabling them to effectively plan, implement and evaluate their organisation’s objectives.
A graduate of Queen's University Belfast, he has extensive experience of political monitoring and has also previously worked at the UN Department of Political Affairs.