Young Independence 2015 South West Launch

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After months of planning the day arrived for members of UKIP across the country to descend on the world heritage city of Bath to celebrate the success and 2015 launch of South West Young Independence.

Even though the day was incredibly windy the support was unbelievable, from both members and guests alike. The day started with a round of applause in respect for recently passed Richard Crowder, the local chairman of the Bath & North East Somerset branch, someone who had inspired many people over numerous years.

The day carried on with similar rapturous reception for the opening speech from Lauren Gilbert, a 16 year old UKIP member who had joined because she decided to side with UKIP in a school debate, it was her research into the party that gave her a new found love for politics.

The speeches continued; the passion and optimism for the future increasing. Dr Julia Reid, MEP for the South West spoke about her experience campaigning against European federalisation and was overwhelmed with the support from young people, commenting “It’s great to see so many young people taking up our cause”

YI Deputy CSWLaunch5hairman Thomas Hoof expressed how the UKIP youth wing is growing from strength to strength, which was demonstrated by this being the first ever regional Young Independence conference.

What followed was a demonstration that UKIP has an abundance of talent standing for election into parliament from Ernie Warrender in Weston-Super-Mare who has wit and humour in abundance, seeing his odds at Ladbrokes slashed to 10-1. Through Caroline Stephens (Stroud), Dr Bob Smith (Cambourne/Redruth/Hayle), Julie Lingard (North Cornwall), Pat Bryant (North Wiltshire) and the local Bath candidate Julian Deverell who was described by the local student paper Bathimpact as someone who “oozes a likeability which is difficult to explain”.SWLaunch7

Julian doesn’t fit the media’s caricature of a typical UKIP candidate, and as is often with his speeches he spoke
of “young people having the ability to think for themselves” and spoke of the rise of the youth since he joined, emotionally acknowledging “It’s extraordinarily encouraging to not be the youngest”.

SWLaunch3I took the stand, and with that I wanted to explain it isn’t my intention to stand to be a politician, but to aim to help people. I am tired of seeing civil liberties taken away with knee-jerk reactions, and I want to help young people realise they can protect their freedoms by helping parties like UKIP bring mechanism into play that give people more power to change things (for example: citizens’ initiates and direct democracy).

Harjit Gill explained why he left labour and touched on his experiences describing the parliamentary changes between labour and conservatives as akin to “passing a baton backwards and forwards” he comically added “with UKIP they’ll lose it”.

The common sense had been oozing through every speech, and it wasn’t about to stop there. Jill Seymour MEP for the Midlands outlined UKIP’s policies on transport, and the best way to describe them is ‘common sense’, later she went into Bath to discuss these with Julian and talk about how Bath could benefit from some of these approaches.

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One of our youngest members Ed Píška explained of the stigma he has to overcome in school for being a UKIP member, which is quite ironic considering how the media try to portray UKIP. He effortlessly introduced Bill Etheridge another UKIP MEP in the Midlands and with it came one of the highlight speeches of the day, he had everyone laughing within the first couple of minutes and later explained his admiration for Norman Tebbit, Ron Paul and Ronald Reagan and closed with an important statement; “The right to choose, the right to live your life the way you want, that is what brings UKIP together”.

SWLaunch1We are seeing too often free speech shut down; in universities, in schools and even outside political offices, thankfully not at this event! We believe it is important to debate opposing opinions not shut them down. The cross party debate demonstrated this profoundly, where Jack Duffin (Young Independence), George Aylett (Young Labour), Connor Donnitthorne (Conservative future), Tom Hathway (Young Greens) and Edward Joseph (member of Youth Parliament) debated different challenges facing the young generation. The maturity was exemplary and at a time when the leaders of the political establishment try to dodge debating each other the youth representatives did each of their respective parties proud.

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All-in-all it was a success, many leaving knowing that the future of UKIP is in good hands. Even the Tab reported how the future leaders of UKIP are “actually okay”; hopefully in the future they won’t be so surprised.

As I said in my speech on the day, do not let “if only” come into play on May 8th, now is the time to get out and do all you can to get as many elected UKIP MPs as possible.

– Dan Evans