Be in no doubt that 2014 was the year UKIP came of age. It was the year the party has been working towards for a long time.
The year when we became the first political party since 1910 to win a national election that wasn’t the Tories or Labour. It was the year when we made a breakthrough in local government and the year when we won two by elections and got our first MPs elected.
However, success brings with it different challenges and new temptations. The challenge now is to take this momentum into the 2015 general election and get even more UKIP backsides on the green leather of the House of Commons.
The temptation, I fear, is to begin to ape the old Westminster parties in an effort to become ‘respectable’ within ‘Establishment’ circles.
Personally, I think to follow such a course would not only be a betrayal of our core values, it will also set us on the rocky road to failure.
I believe UKIP must uphold its straight talking credentials and its radical political outlook.
One of our greatest weapons has been the fact that our candidates are the ordinary people that you would find on the building site, in the local pub or in the shopping precinct.
They do not look, act or sound like professional politicians.
Yes, we have the odd eccentric, all parties do, but often when our candidates say something politically incorrect, it is just the result of being normal and not a media trained politician.
And what the old parties cannot understand is that every time a ‘UKIP gaffe’ is reported – or leaked – it does not dent us in the polls. That is why we are feared and smeared.
But the public are far brighter than what the Westminster Establishment think. They can see through style over substance and they have had enough of the political class.
They are no longer fooled by the Blair era of the Stepford wife politician, with a shiny suit and a disingenuous smile.
They want to see real people who they can empathise with representing them and not some polished twenty-something straight out of Oxbridge with no experience of life and no link to the local community.
And that is what UKIP has to offer.
Yes some of our people might put their foot in it once in while, but in the eyes of the public, it simply shows we’re human, we’re just like them.
In my opinion, the party must never attempt to stamp out its individualism and normality and should celebrate our opinionated larger than life characters.
I am also not in favour of us altering or softening our language to become accepted by the Establishment.
We must never shirk from telling it how it is and we must never adopt politically correct language to appease the professionally offended.
Yes those who say downright offensive things and show themselves to be unsuitable candidates must be removed, but we must be very careful where we draw the line or we may end up looking and sounding like the rest.
We must be the antithesis of the patronising, Left-leaning metropolitan elite which has imposed the opinions the North London dinner party on to the rest of us for far too long.
We must challenge the parameters of debate that these so-called opinion formers have set and accept that when we step outside we will be labelled racist, sexist, homophobe or any other ‘ism’ that they can conjure up.They will attempt to shut down discussion on issues which offend their politically correct sensibilities through a mixture of scaremongering, smear and mockery, but we must stand firm because we know that we have the people who live outside this North London bubble on our side.
We must remain confident that our stance on immigration is morally sound, fair but firm and it must not be watered down.
We must not be afraid to question the so-called ‘scientific consensus’ on man-made global warming and we must never shirk away from discussing emotive subjects like the death penalty for the killers of children.
We need to confront the issues that the Establishment parties avoid, such as the rising foreign aid budget and the terrifying growth of Sharia courts in our towns and cities and we must be outriders on topics such as House of Lords reform and an English Parliament.
We have consistently criticised the cosy social democratic consensus at Westminster and under no circumstances must we become part of it.
The minute we begin to mimic the old political parties is when we will begin to lose our appeal and when we will hop on that helter-skelter to political oblivion.
To ensure this does not happen and that 2015 is even more successful than 2014, UKIP must remain true to itself, radical and firmly anti-Establishment.
– Paul Nuttall MEP, Deputy leader of UKIP