DONCASTER, United Kingdom – No other party leader could have made the entrance Nigel Farage did at UKIP conference today. The crowd truly went wild when the party leader made his way to stage while “The Final Countdown” blasted from the speakers.
He opened his speech by reminding members and party activists that it was their support, and indeed their demands, that he remained as party leader after the General Election last year.
But this wasn’t any ordinary conference speech. In fact, it isn’t an ordinary party conference at all. The theme, the entire branding, everything has been tailored to make the case for the ‘Out’ side with the European referendum campaign looming.
He said that UKIP should “hold its head high” over the General Election campaign, and drew laughter when he made reference to the BBC reporting his trip to Strasbourg to warn over the impending migrant crisis seven days before the election. They called it “taking a break”.
And then he got onto the Labour Party:“Corbyn is a thousand miles away from Labour voters who came to UKIP,” he commented, making fun of Labour MP Diane Abbott’s claim that her party would start winning people back since the election of their new leader.
“He will support Britain remaining in the European Union,” he remarked, noting that he was bounced into a U-turn by his backbenchers. “A whole new flank” in terms of Labour Party voters has been opened, he said. “Corbyn is a gift.”
“UKIP is up in the opinion polls from where it was five months ago at the general election,” he claimed. “UKIP is getting ready and preparing… next year we will fight the police and crime commissioner elections… the local elections in England… the elections in Wales… and the elections in London. The fundamental difference between them and the General election… it’s called proportional representation.”
“We will maintain our position as the only political party with elected representation in all four corners of the United Kingdom,” he insisted, alluding to the fact that the other major political parties have formed strongholds in regions, rather than being parties of the entire country.
“I want us to dedicated ourselves wholly to winning that referendum,” Mr Farage urged, getting onto the all encompassing subject of the conference.
“This is the moment to put country before party” he said. “We want our country back!”
There are three sides to the referendum campaign. There’s the in campaign… Sir Richard Branson… Tony Blair… and top of the billing it’s Peter Mandelson. We’ve got the side who’ll campaign for us to leave. And then we’ve got the Prime Minister. Or should I call him, in this context, ‘Piggy in the Middle’?” Cue laughter and some disgusted groans.
He went on to talk about how the “In” campaign want Britain to not just remain in the European Union, but even to join the Euro in due course.
Mr Farage’s speech today was effectively a rallying cry for those who stand against the European Union in principle to get out there and campaign, using the resources provided by the party and indeed the other anti-EU groups that have today announced that they will be backing the campaign led by Arron Banks.
“We’ll win this with [a] big, strong, positive message,” Farage continued, before going on to talk about the factions in the Eurosceptic movement in Britain.
“The Eurosceptic groups are all run by ego-maniacs… with some exceptions one hopes…” he said, commenting on what many have commented about the groups for years.
“Yes, we’re here as a party getting ready to fight those May elections next year… but the single most important significant thing about this conference is I am just massively impressed with Arron Banks and the men and women around him have done in putting together the… umbrella group of ‘Leave.EU’.
“UKIP will stand hand in hand with Leave.eu… we are together, we are united, and I believe that the tide has turned. Something is changing out there, and I believe we are on course to win the most historic political victory in any of our lifetimes.”