Well, here we are. After twenty years. What an audience. Look at you. All that work. All those leaflets. Up at dawn. I know well those streets you have trodden. But you have done magnificently. And how it’s paid off.
We are changing the face of British politics.
Jane Collins second in Rotherham parliamentary by-election last year. 16 per cent up, second place, you have no idea what that did to them in Westminster! And in Downing Street it was even worse. Even better, I mean.
Richard Elvin, in the North East came second in Middlesbrough’s parliamentary by-election and second in South Shields. They weigh the Labour vote in South Shields but they obviously use Imperial measures because Richard took UKIP from 0 to 25 per cent in three weeks.
Diane James, second in Eastleigh’s parliamentary by-election. Over 11,000 votes – 24 per cent up. Close, so close. Next time, Diane.
That’s the change.
I said then we were overtaking the Lib Dems to become the third party in British politics.
We’ve thirty thousand members and growing fast.
Certainly by the time of the general election we’ll be the third highest-membership party in Britain.
Every other party is fighting their decline.
We’re delighted, they’re appalled; the commentators are amazed.
In eight months’ time there are the European elections and the Council elections.
UKIP will be standing in both sets, fielding thousands of candidates.
I’m taking nothing for granted but I think we’re going to do well in the European elections. My ambition, my conviction is that we can come first and cause an earthquake.
But I also believe that the Council elections may turn out to be more important.
We made a breakthrough this year and we now have 227 council seats.
I wouldn’t presume to make predictions about what May will bring. But we do want more – hundreds more.
It’s possible. I think we can all feel it.
On the doorstep we tell voters that UKIP councillors aren’t constrained by Labour or Conservative affiliations. They are un-whipped. Free to represent the interests of the community. To fight for the right for local people to have referendums on key local issues such as fracking and the building of wind farms.
And what support we find out there. What eclectic support. Look at you!
You did it. We did it. Everyone in this hall.
When I heard MPs had voted against a strike on Syria. When I heard the Tories were voting for a referendum, I thought it again – we may not have MPs but we’re changing the face of British politics.
Politicians in Parliament are listening not to their party whips but to their voters.
It’s a change that’s been gathering force for twenty years.
Part hope, part fear, part disillusionment, part engagement.
When we launched our party just 17 per cent of British people agreed we should withdraw from the European Union.
Today, that figure is 67 per cent.
The British Social Attitudes Survey shows how much Britain has been moving UKIP’s way.
On many different areas of our national life.
On welfare – that benefits should be there for need, not as a lifestyle choice.
On education – that grammar schools are a great engine of social mobility.
And yes, on the European Union.
Yes, on immigration.
It’s the biggest single issue facing this country. It affects the economy. The NHS. Schools. Public services. The deficit.
But the establishment has been closing down the immigration debate for 20 years.
UKIP has opened it up. We need to. From the 1st of January next year the stakes are rising dramatically.
Let’s have that debate! Openly. We need to talk about it!
We are a nation that has always been open minded about immigration. But more people came to this country in one year, 2010 than came in the thousand years before it.
I’m not against immigration. Far from it. Migrants have qualities we all admire. Looking for a better life. They want to get on. I like that. We admire that.
So I’m speaking here as much as for the settled ethnic minorities as for those who have been here forever.
Half a million new arrivals a year!
It’s just not sustainable.
Anyone who looks at it honestly knows it’s not sustainable.
UKIP talks about it honestly. Directly. We’ve had a lot of stick for it. Normal, decent people have been bullied out of the debate.
Maybe that’s why none of the London commentariat has noticed what’s going on out there in Telford, and Aylesbury, and Kettering, and Buxton and Harrogate. It’s a long way from London. But all over the country, I’m getting audiences of five hundred or six hundred a night to talk about this.
This debate has been filling theatres. And not with party members. On a show of hands 80 per cent are non-members.
But they’re interested. They’re engaged. They’re concerned.
These people aren’t disconnected from politics. They’re disconnected from politicians.
And UKIP is the only party that isn’t afraid to talk to them about it.
So who are we? Who is the typical UKIP voter? I’ll tell you something about the typical UKIP voter – the typical UKIP voter doesn’t exist.
When I look at the audiences in those theatres there is a range of British society from all parts of the spectrum. Workers, employers, self-employed. Big businessmen, corner shop owners. Well off, comfortably off, struggling. Young as well as old. Not ideologues. Some left, some right, mostly in the middle. Some activists, some haven’t voted for twenty years.
One thing many have in common: they are fed up to the back teeth with the cardboard cut-out careerists in Westminster.
The spot-the-difference politicians.
Desperate to fight the middle ground, but can’t even find it.
The dog whistlers.
The politicians who daren’t say what they really mean.
And that’s why UKIP attracts this eclectic support.
Because when we believe something – we don’t go “are you thinking what we’re thinking”. We say it out loud.
That’s why UKIP is the most independent-minded body of men and women who have ever come together in the name of British politics.
Which presents occasional difficulties.
We have some people with overactive Facebook accounts. And we have some who make public pronouncements that I would not always choose myself.
Indeed I had the most blistering row with Godfrey Bloom in a Strasbourg restaurant the other day. He wants to fight for his beliefs and I was saying that we need to stick to the big messages. I don’t always agree on policy with Stuart Wheeler either.
But, the essence of our recent success is our ability to push the boundaries of debate and with that, the national debate on many issues.
If the choice is between our being browbeaten through political correctness to stay within the current received wisdoms or to be a party of free debate then be in no doubt we must be the party of radical alternatives and free speech.
There is however one important qualification…
We oppose racism. We oppose extremism. We oppose sectarianism of the left or right.
We are the only party that bans the BNP from membership.
I’ve got a card here which says what UKIP is, and in the first line, it says as strongly and clearly as it can be said, UKIP opposes racism.
UKIP is a free-thinking, egalitarian party opposed to racism, sectarianism and extremism.
UKIP is dedicated to liberty, opportunity, equality under the law and the aspirations of the British people.
We will always act in the interests of Britain. Especially on immigration, employment, energy supply and fisheries.
We know that only by leaving the union can we regain control of our borders, our parliament, democracy and our ability to trade freely with the fastest-growing economies in the world.
And £55 million a day, incidentally, we get that back as well.
A referendum to allow the country to decide this matter will create the greatest opportunity for national renewal in our lifetime.
Optimistic. Open to the world. The opposite of insular. Out there trading with countries that have growth rates of six, seven, ten per cent a year. Not hemmed in by the European Union – but open to the Commonwealth. Not headed by my old pal Herman Achille van Rompuy but by the Queen. Our real friends in the Commonwealth.
Because the fact is we just don’t belong in the European Union.
Britain is different.
Our geography puts us apart. Our history puts us apart. Our institutions produced by that history put us apart. We think differently. We behave differently.
I’m not giving you the Love, Actually version of what makes Britain different.
The roots go back seven, eight, nine hundred years with the Common Law. Civil rights. Habeas corpus. The presumption of innocence. The right to a trial by jury. On the continent – confession is the mother of all evidence.
Four years ago, Andrew Symeou was charged with manslaughter on statements extracted by the police and later withdrawn – taken on the European Arrest Warrant, held for 10 months in the most appalling conditions, detained in Greece for four years and then walked free when the prosecutor pulled the case. The European Arrest Warrant is an abomination to those of us who care about freedom and justice.
And in some sense it was ever thus.
The idea of free speech was a reality in England when Europe was run by princes with tyrannical powers.
Throughout Europe, England was known as the land of liberty.
Here you had the possibility of dissent. Of free thinking. Independent minds and actions. That’s us. UKIP belongs in the mainstream of British political life throughout the centuries.
I always believed since 1999 that Britain was a square peg in the round hole I’ve come to realize something bigger than that. The union is not just contrary to our interests but contrary to the interests of Europe itself.
The Commission has hijacked the institutions of Europe by adopting a flag, an anthem, a president, and through their mad euro project they have driven tens of millions into poverty.
Their climate change obsession has destroyed industry across Europe, and their refusal to listen to the people will lead to the very extreme nationalisms the project was supposed to stop.
We are the true Europeans. We want to live and work and breathe and trade in a Europe of democratic nations.
But in the last ten or fifteen years this country has seen astonishing change. There has been a phenomenal collapse in national self-confidence.
When we signed up to government from the Continent, most Britons didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for.
Our laws have come from Brussels – and what laws. What directives. What a list of instructions. How this shall be done. How that shall be regulated. Process and compliance and inspection and regulation are taking over from production and leadership and enterprise.
Financial services make up 10 per cent of the economy. It’s not just the City of London; it’s Southampton as well. Cardiff. Birmingham. Newcastle. And it’s insurance. Reinsurance. Stocks and shares. Futures. Commodities. Pension funds.
It is totally irrelevant to this industry whether we have a Labour or a Tory government because their livelihoods are now regulated by a Frenchman who is no friend of ours.
Parliament is reduced to the level of a large council. No one knows for sure exactly how much of our law comes from Brussels. Could be 70 or 80 per cent.
We have given up our concept of civil rights. Magna Carta, 800th anniversary the year after next, at the general election.
Habeas corpus. Rights of inheritance. And not just for the aristocracy, as time went by.
Our civil rights grew and kept pace with the times and expanded through the Common Law into the modern world – Europe has supplanted it with their Human Rights charter. While they can hold Andrew Symeou in Greece on trumped-up charges for four years – we can’t deport a rapist and murderer because he has a right to a family life.
How did they do that to us?
They lied to us. They had to. We’d never have agreed to it if they told us the truth and asked for our agreement.
And it’s created a complete charade in our national life.
All the parties now talk tough on immigration.
David Cameron said he would bring it down to the tens of thousands.
There are still half a million people a year coming in.
Do you know, I really think they haven’t made the connection.
I was in an immigration debate chaired by Nick Robinson. I started to talk about Europe, the rights of entry and residence that EU citizens have. He stopped me. No, he said, this debate is about immigration it’s not about Europe.
That’s how deep the disconnect goes.
Ten thousand a week. Half a million a year. Five million economic migrants in ten years coming to this country.
Unprecedented. Never happened before.
The effects are obvious. In every part of our national life.
The strain these numbers are putting on public services.
Schools. The shortage of school places in primaries and secondary schools.
The NHS. The sheer weight of numbers that adds to the other problems of that
Housing. Demand pushes up prices.
Wages are driven down by the massive over-supply of unskilled labour.
And from the 1st of January next year, the risks increase massively.
The seven year period is up and nearly 30 million of the good people of Bulgaria and Romania have open access to our country, our welfare system our jobs market.
How many will take advantage of that no one knows.
The Home Office don’t have any idea at all. The previous estimate was 13,000 in total. Migration Watch thinks 50,000 a year. It could be many times that.
No one knows. It’s no way to run a policy.
And you can’t blame people wanting to come here.
I don’t blame them.
I’d come here myself if I was in their position.
So would you. Anyone would be tempted.
In Bulgaria and Romania, average earnings are a fifth of ours.
The purchasing power of £20 of child benefit a week is five times over there what it is here.
So consider a family of mum, dad and three children. They’re going to think, let’s send Dad over to get work in Britain. That enterprising and industrious fellow can come here, find a job, and be eligible for child benefit for his three children – even though they aren’t living here.
£60 a week – with the purchasing power of five times that. Sent back to Romania or Bulgaria. What an incentive. What a draw. What a pull factor, as they call it in immigration circles.
And while you can’t blame them – is it fair? Is it fair for the people who are already here in this country. Who’ve paid in to the system?
That migrants can come and immediately start drawing benefits?
When we, the host country, is strapped for cash, when youth unemployment is at a million, when the NHS is groaning and the deficit is a burden on every family?
I know it isn’t fair. I know it isn’t right. And I know there isn’t a thing the Government can do about it.
There is an even darker side to the opening of the door in January. London is already experiencing a Romanian crime wave. There have been an astounding 27,500 arrests in the Metropolitan Police area in the last five years. 92 per cent of ATM crime is committed by Romanians. This gets to the heart of the immigration policy that UKIP wants, we should not welcome foreign criminal gangs and we must deport those who have committed offences. Mr. Cameron, Clegg and Milliband are you listening?
If they are listening there’s not a thing they can do. They are tied up in the cat’s cradle of EU laws, regulations, directives and treaties.
The only way this can be dealt with is by leaving the EU.
Not prolong the agony. But leave, and leave soon. That’s what UKIP has been arguing for twenty years and what an increasing majority of the British people are – with very good reason – coming to believe as well.
Sixty seven per cent. Research suggests that 67 per cent of Britons now support leaving the Union.
I’m not sure how carefully everyone has thought this through, so let me say a little about what life outside the Union looks like to me.
I believe that leaving the Union and reclaiming our destiny will create the most exciting opportunity for national renewal in our lifetime.
At the most basic level we get back £55 million a day. It adds up. It’s £20 billion a year. We could reduce the deficit. We could reduce corporation tax to 10 per cent. Give us the most competitive and attractive business taxes in the western world.
We get our money back.
We get our borders back.
We get our Parliament back.
We get our fisheries back.
We get our own seat in on the bodies that actually run the world.
We get back the ability to strike free trade deals. We can abolish tariffs on African produce and do more to raise living standards there than any amount of aid.
There are those who say we can’t go it alone. That our global influence will decline because we are small.
Those are the true voices of Little England. We speak for Great Britain.
No longer bound into an ageing and increasingly arthritic trade bloc where growth of 2 and 3 per cent is an ambition.
Instead, the world. The Commonwealth. Trading with Brazil, Asia, the Commonwealth where growth rates in double figures will bring wealth back to this country.
No more relying on debt-fuelled booms to get things going. No more growth through credit card excesses. We earn our way to national prosperity by free trade with the world.
And just to counter the scare stories the status quo put up to frighten people back into line, I’ll tell you what won’t happen.
Those ten thousand trucks a day coming in from the continent bringing goods into this country. They won’t stop coming.
The £25 to £35 billion trade surplus the rest of Europe runs with us. That’s not going to stop.
The idea that the EU will start a trade war with Britain is simply not credible.
The real reason the EU won’t be able or willing to stop trading with us is that the German car industry won’t allow it. I just can’t see Mrs Merkel explaining to Mercedes that they’re not going to be selling into Britain any more.
It’s not going to happen.
Leaving the Union will give us our country back and open a door to the world.
We are changing the face of British politics and all our arguments are gaining traction. In rhetoric the other parties are attempting to move in to our territory but without the slightest intention of delivering.
So Mr. Cameron wants a referendum … well we’ve heard it all before with his “cast iron guarantee” and we don’t believe that he is sincere. The use of the word renegotiation is no more than a cynical tactic to kick the issue into the long grass after the next election. I have no doubt that Labour and the Lib Dems will do exactly the same thing. They all promise a referendum at every General Election and renege on their promises.
But the next election is not, as you would believe reading the newspapers, in 2015. The next election is on May 22nd 2014, the European Elections.
They offer voters a chance to really express their view without worrying which lot get in to Downing Street.
The campaign will be dominated by open door immigration to Eastern Europe. If the coalition wants to save their electoral skins they must, before January 1st, tell Brussels that we will not unconditionally open our door to Bulgaria and Romania.
That is my challenge to them. If they ignore it then we must turn the Euro Elections into the referendum that we have not been given.
Let’s make May 22nd as our referendum on EU membership, let us send an earthquake through Westminster. Let us stand up and say: Give us our country back!
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.