You can always tell how busy I am by the number of blog posts I make, well since the UKIP Conference last week I have been both surprised and pleased by the large number of calls and e-mails I have received urging me to consider putting my hat into the ring for the Leadership of UKIP after Nigel announced his retirement on Friday. My initial reaction was to dismiss these suggestions out of hand, but some of the more persistent callers asked me to think it over very carefully.
Over the past five years I have seen, from quite a senior position, how the UK Independence Party operates and became convinced some time ago that things needed to change organisationally in order for the Party to continue to progress. One thing that definitely needs to be addressed is the perceived imbalance in the party where the financial muscle of the MEPs is seen to allow them to wield disproportionate influence. I do believe that many of the MEPs themselves agree that the Party is now too big for this concentration of power to be sustainable. Nigel’s admission that the Leadership was too much for him to handle along with his other roles being an illustration of this.
To this end I am now seriously considering seeking the necessary 50 signatures to permit me to submit my name for nomination as a Candidate for Leader of UKIP. This is in the belief that it should not be an MEP who takes this role forward in the domestic arena. MEPs have a job to do exposing the EU beast for what it really is. The Leader of UKIP in the UK needs to concentrate on modernising the party and bringing in management practices that are fit for a party that is growing in influence at every election we fight.
If I were to stand and be elected I would devote myself full time to the post. I would cease promoting my private business interests and would not seek election as a MP or MEP during my tenure as Leader of the Party. When the Party Leader, or indeed any Party Officer, is a UKIP MEP and therefore in receipt of a substantial salary as a result of their UKIP activities, I think it is unreasonable for them to expect additional payments for carrying out Party Officer roles. However, were I to become Party Leader I would expect a salary commensurate with at least minimum wage, and I would expect the Party to cover the expenses incurred while on party business. I do not think this is unreasonable as I would still need to live and support my family. I would publish an on-line diary of my activities and my expenses so that there was complete transparency of what was being spent and on what. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect this as unless the Party are willing to support the Leader in this way then only those with a private income could ever aspire to senior posts.
UKIP advertises itself as a Party of real people, not career politicians. However it appears to me that our over reliance on MEPs to fill senior posts leaves us open to the accusation that we are no different to the other parties. UKIP must open up its senior positions such a Leader and Chairman to real people, not career politicians, for despite what our MEPs may say I believe that once the have been elected, and in some cases re-elected, as Members of the European Parliament then they have embarked on a political career. This is why I would NOT seek election as a Member of the European, or Westminster, Parliaments while I was Party Leader.
I believe I have the management and personal skills necessary to lead our party and the ability to build a team where each member plays to their strengths. Working with Nigel Farage as the political Leader I would very much see the Role as a Chief Executive role rather than the predominately public facing role that Nigel undertakes and which is undoubtedly one of his strengths. UKIP needs MEPs as our political face, we need the NEC as our senior management body overseeing a Business Plan for the Party, we need an efficient secretariat carrying out party administration and we need a united membership going forward together. These are the things I would work towards as key steps on the way to getting our country back.