Former UKIP Manchester Chairman and Secretary, originally posted in 2016
A quick introduction, for those that do not know me. My name is Kalvin Chapman. I am the secretary of UKIP Manchester and I am also the secretary of UKIP Greater Manchester. I am standing for the NEC elections in November 2016. During the day I am a commercial litigation solicitor.
I joined UKIP to stand as a parliamentary candidate. I duly stood as one in Stretford & Urmston. I did so after carefully considering each party. I have never been a member of a party before. I have never stood for any political party until May 2015 when I stood for UKIP. I was very proud to be standing for UKIP. I still delight at the way a group of misfits got together and tried running a political campaign – I am proud of what we did and very proud of the people I did it with.
Since 2014 UKIP has become the third largest party in the UK. Yet despite this we only have one MP and our membership has dropped significantly. I hear many people say what they want to go and do (such as target Labour members) but I see an absolute black hole where action is concerned. I voted for Diane James because she said she would do things. She did not, she resigned after 18 days. This gives us an opportunity to get a leader who will do rather than talking about doing and, essentially, get an NEC that will do things and do things that are in the interests of the party rather than in the interests of a few individuals. This includes changing the constitution and, if necessary, removing the NEC and creating a new body to represent the grassroots in the running of UKIP.
In 2015 we beat the polls and we managed to gain 3,881,099 votes in the UK. As part of a much wider group, we managed to help raise 17,410,742 votes in the EU Referendum. Having done so well in GE2015 and so amazingly well in the EU Referendum 2016, UKIP should be charging ahead, holding its head aloft with pride. Instead we have in-fighting, an empty bank account, an empty leadership chair, people defecting to the tories and the often spoken of Labour Membership that we are targeting have not in fact been targeted.
I am horrified by the defections and by the bitterness being excreted online on twitter and facebook . I did not join a party to watch MEPs allegedly having handbags at dawn in the EU Parliament. I hate it when I have to read yet another condescending muck piece in one of the left leaning newspapers.
What I joined UKIP for was for the policies and I stayed for the people (and the policies). Since the referendum the party has descended into a battle of the egos, with people appearing to think that they are bigger than the party.
What I am standing for in the NEC election in November 2016 is to get UKIP back to what it should be. We desperately need to be raising funds. We cannot rely on one person to provide almost all of the funding for the party. We need to target more people who will give us the funds we need to raise the profile of the party and to fight the elections at local and national levels. I took out a £7,000 loan to stand in the General Election in 2015. I now want others to put their hands in their pockets and help us to have a fighting fund for the next General Election. At present I think UKIP does very little fundraising. If elected to the NEC I will try and look at how the party can transform this.
I want UKIP to genuinely go out and target Conservative and Labour voters. I want us to stop talking about it and actually go out and do it. The Labour leadership contest, which frankly descended into a Carry On film, should have given UKIP the ability to take Northern voters in their droves. This did not happen – our membership lists in-fact dropped significantly, whilst the Conservative party has been actively targeting all of our best people. Lots of people talked about targeting the Labour membership but no-one actually went out and did it. With the increased income from targeted fundraising we can start funding council election fights and have a broader membership to support this. This, to me, is essential and should be a priority. Look at the Witney by-election. Labour doubled its members and halved its vote. UKIP’s vote share also dropped, despite a tremendous campaign. We need to change UKIP into doubling its members and quadrupling its vote share.
If we as a party start getting the word out and letting people see who we are and what we actually stand for (rather than what the media wishes we stood for) we can increase the membership and we can genuinely target the disaffected labour voters. But we can only do this if we are at one and we have an NEC and a leader that will actively go out and do something. I have the drive and the passion to do this. That is why I am standing for the NEC in the November 2016 elections.
During the General Election of 2015 the media refused interviews unless they could get Nigel Farage. The only people allowed to be spokespersons for the party were MEPs. We need to take PR and press management seriously. We have some astonishingly good people in the party, but their voices are not allowed to be heard because only MEPs could be spokespeople. If elected to the NEC I would be pushing the party to professionalise and to start picking the best people to be our spokespersons. I would be pushing for us to get really good PR people in place by the end of 2017 so that we can have a consistent voice between 2017 and the General Election in 2020. Right now we just have people who have something to say getting on the Sunday politics programmes with no apparent plan as to how that appearance would feed into the national strategy. Indeed, right now there appears to be no actual national strategy in place.
Not only do we need to be targeting Labour & Conservative members, we also need to be reaching out to our own membership because we are losing them. Right now fights on Twitter appears to be the only way that anyone in UKIP targets members. There are regular barbed comments being spread. Members have little say in the party nationally except on Facebook or Twitter. Members have a say in branches, but nationally are apparently voiceless. We as a party need to be undertaking a consistent process of reaching out to our members with a consistent message, rather than the occasional and ad hoc emails we get from people within the Party. If elected to the NEC I intend asking the senior people in the party to take this on as a significant and important change.
Finally, as an NEC member I would be pushing for the party to professionalise. We do not ever want people standing for the party who sound like and look like the PR styled imbeciles that Labour & Conservative have been. Indeed, look at the one the tories had in 2015/16. They were told to stand on stages as though they were relieving themselves or having a baby. It looked ridiculous. No, I do not want to see that. Nor do I want to see the 1997 Labour Party re-enacted. But if you go back and look at the 1997 Labour Party election strategy it was simply mesmerising. It was easy to feel happy about the message they wanted to convey. It had a message and that message was repeated over and over again in a way that made people remember it and like it. UKIP does not need to be reinvented – we as a party have a message. But we need to be professionalising how that message is put across, and that message needs to be consistently put across time and time again. We need our key themes put across to our members and those people we are targeting to be our members in a way that makes them want to be a part of UKIP.
In 2020 we have a very real chance of getting more MPs. We need to stop with the constant harping on about factions. We need those that harbour factions to get over themselves or get out. We need a big fighting fund. We need our branches to each have huge fighting funds. We need people standing for the party because they believe in the party and not because they think their names are worth more than the party. I remember asking an MEP if s/he really enjoyed their job despite the huge amount of work involved. They thought i was talking stupid. It was clear s/he was there for themselves and not the party. I do not want that type of person in our party. I want people who will knock themselves out fighting for the party and our policies and at the end of a gruelling week still say that they love every minute of it. With the increased money, a better vetting process, the candidates that really do represent the party and a PR machine that makes us work better, then we can proudly go into the 2020 election (or whenever it may be) and win.
So, I ask you to vote for me to be an NEC member. I will fight from within to help turn UKIP into the third largest party in terms of MPs. We can then target being the official opposition with the second highest number of MPs. We can then target No. 10 itself. But we can only do this if we take the reigns and turn UKIP into a professional party that represents everyone and not just a few people and, especially, have people standing for the party because they believe in the party rather than they want their names in the newspaper at the weekend. We can do this, but we need an NEC and a leader that can allow that transformation to take place. I believe I can work with the leadership as part of the NEC to help make us all believe in better.