Speeches » Speech to Young Independents Conference
I am absolutely delighted to be back here in Birmingham, at another UKIP Conference, this time supporting you, Young Independence, the future of our party.
It seems hard to believe that it has been nearly two years since we last came together in Birmingham, to talk about how our party was going to grow, and push forward towards the European Elections.
I came to that Conference in September 2012, as did many of you, full of hope, and expectation over what we might achieve together in the months and years that were to follow.
I was about to fight the Corby and East Northamptonshire by-election. I know many of you came to help me on the streets of my home town and I'll always be grateful for the support I received from members across our party.
Although we couldn't have known it at the time, that by-election was to be the catalyst for a remarkable period in our party's history.
The battle for Corby was to be a long one.
It all began with Tory prima donna, abandoning the people who had voted for her, believing that she, and her family would have better prospects, and a brighter future if they moved to America. Louise Mensch didn't get much right, but she clearly recognised what we had been saying long before her resignation, Cameron and his Coalition were destroying Britain's future!
The Labour Party were standing one of their own. A Labour Prince, part of Labour Aristocracy, a Champaign Socialist who had no real care for how he could better his town, only of how it's voters could help with his political ambitions.
And then there was me. A female candidate standing for a party which, if the press were to be believed, didn't believe in women, couldn't relate to women, believed the woman's place was at home in the kitchen.
We went out onto the doorsteps of Corby. At first in our tens. Then it our twenties, until eventually Corby and East Northamptonshire was filled with hundreds of UKIP activists knocking on doors. As the old parties lavished local people with broken promises and more empty rhetoric, we asked a simple question... What is it you want us to do for you?!
It was on the streets of Corby and East Northamptonshire that UKIP came together to show the British people that politics didn't have to be about left or right anymore. It didn't need to be filled with lecturing school boys who had never had a real job, or false promises that would never be realised.
UKIP came together to show the people of Corby that politics could be about common sense. Politics could be about relevance, and morals and principal. Politics could be about real people!
And from there we moved to Rotherham, and to South Shields, and to Eastleigh, each time improving on our previous result, every count demonstrating that there was a growing belief in UKIP and its candidates, but also in a changing philosophy that was re-engaging with so many of the disenfranchised, drawing them back into the political debate.
We knew after the result in Eastleigh that the future of our party was secure. That UKIP could never again be described as here today, gone tomorrow, or as a one hit wonder.
UKIP was here to stay and so we looked, with more optimism than ever before to May 2014, and the European Elections.
The Earthquake that Nigel had talked about for so long began to look less like hopeful enthusiasm, and more like destiny.
As many of you will know, I was selected to stand as the number two UKIP candidate in the East Midlands, second to Roger Helmer. Roger and I had worked closely together for a long time, and we knew that in our Region, there was a growing consensus amongst members of the public that our membership of the European Union was damaging our economy, was costing our young people jobs, was impoverishing our pensioners, and it was holding our country back.
Voters in the East Midlands, like elsewhere, were tired of being represented by an old establishment, who were already invested in the European Dream. An establishment intent on convincing the British people that their country's best days were behind them.
Local people wanted to hear from a political party who viewed the world the way they did. They wanted to hear from a political party that was open, clear of conscience and libertarian in nature. A party who understood that wanting to control their own destiny had nothing to do with being against anybody, but was entirely focused on giving our country back to the people it rightfully belonged too.
Both as a mother, and a grandmother, I shared the fears of many, that without action, the generations that would follow us would never feel the same pride in our Country as we once had. It was no longer good enough to pass the problem onto the next group of politicians. It wasn't acceptable anymore to sit back, to not vote, to vote the way you always had, or the way your parents wanted you to. With the future direction of our country at stake, we all knew what the results of the European Elections would mean.
Our own count was held in a large sports hall in Kettering, a town just a stone's throw from Corby. As our team gathered together late on that Sunday night, we had already started to get a sense that something incredible was about to happen. As our purple line on the plasma screen in front of us started to soar, lifted on the votes of those who shared our hopes and our dreams, we knew that we had created more than just an earthquake. It was a moment seismic beyond words.
UKIP in the East Midlands got the strongest result of any party, anywhere in the country. But elsewhere our successes were just as outstanding.
On July 1st I went to Strasbourg as one of 24 newly elected, UKIP MEPs. From all of us who got elected, to all of you who helped us to get there, thank you!
So what now?
With a solid foundation to build on, these next few years could well prove to be the most important in our country's history.
UKIP will be the flag bearers for democracy and freedom. But those of us who are leading the charge now, like me, won't be able to go on forever.
As I said at the beginning, I know that the future really is sat here, in this room.
The talent, the enthusiasm, the energy. All of those things that any political party, that any nation needs to succeed, resides in you, and that's why your actions now, and in the months ahead are so important.
You, and those who came before you have done extraordinary work on behalf of our party, and the need for you to be at the forefront of our national debate is greater than ever.
With great electoral success, comes great responsibility. And we must all shoulder that responsibility now equally.
Let me tell you a fact about the recent by-election in Newark. Having stood myself in Corby, having been on the ground in Rotherham, Eastleigh and Wythenshaw. For the last fortnight of the by-election campaign in Newark, I was there almost every day. What stunned me, and the members of the team on the ground was the number of young people, coming in to offer their support.
These weren't political animals, studying politics at University. They were normal people, between 17 and 25. They were, articulate people, coming it to tell us about how difficult it was to find jobs in the town. How hard it was to get themselves onto the housing ladder. How they felt that nobody listened to them, or understood how their lives were being affected by what out of touch politicians were doing in London.
So we listened, and we talked, and we were amazed by the turning tide of opinion within the younger population of Newark.
We know that those feelings are being replicated within young people across our country, and we need to make sure that we're the party who are prepared to listen, and are prepared to do what is in their best interests.
Ladies and Gentlemen, whatever the successes of the last two years, they will mean nothing if we don't get the next twelve months right. We will all play our part, but you most of all. You are the minds, the personalities, the thinkers, who will shape our party's best days, which are yet to come, and I for one will be supporting you every step of the way.