I have listened to all the candidates speak over the last week or have read the plans that they have laid out for UKIP's future.
I have come to the following conclusion:
- Bill Etheridge - As much as I respect Bill for his strong and consistent beliefs, I cannot back a person who believes so strongly for capital punishment. However I do agree a lot with his views on the massive mistakes UKIP have made over recent years and applaud him for openly speaking about them.
- Diane James - As much as I admire Diane for all the hard work she has put into the party, and the success she has fostered in the past. I am concerned following the General Election that she might not be able to devote as much time to the party as is needed. I am also concerned that her plan for the party only seems to stretch as far as the official Brexit with a seemingly "we will see" attitude for UKIP after Brexit.
She also entered the UKIP leadership election contest very late in the day, and I am also concerned that this might have been a 'last ditch' decision because of Steven Woolfe's campaign faltering.
I look forward to seeing Diane continue to represent UKIP in the future.
- Lisa Duffy - Lisa's attitude toward her support within the NEC has put me off greatly as I am of the belief that the NEC should remain completely impartial to individual candidates and people within the party. For me an NEC that is pro Farage is as off-putting as a NEC that is pro-Hamilton or other. A NEC and its members should not be disclosing to candidates that they are supporting them.
Her attitude on LBC (05/08/2016) with regards to keeping the question of immigration as a core to UKIP's ideology going forward, for me was a dreadful suggestion.
- Elizabeth Jones - I have an awful lot of respect for Liz. She has had an incredibly difficult time of it with the issues surrounding the NEC and has defended its moral interests admirably even if I disagree with how it has behaved of late. She has been a completely lone voice doing what she thinks is right within the NEC. Not siding or standing against anyone and doing what she thinks is right.
It is worth noting for the record that she and Jonathan Arnott had no part in the recent vote to exclude Steven Woolfe from the UKIP leadership contest. It is really important that people know and realise that.
She worked to near exhaustion during the Referendum campaign. Not a day went past over the course of the campaign where she didn't post a picture on Facebook of herself posting leaflets through the doors of high-rise apartments and walking the streets of London trying to win over potential Leave voters. She has tried to win over support in areas of society UKIP have traditionally struggled to win support and I would like her to be given a far more key role in the future of UKIP going forward as I believe the ideas that she has will help us expand into other communities. However the need for a future Leader of UKIP to have had elected experience is essential in my opinion.
- Jonathan Arnott seems to have the most structured plan for UKIP's future. Even beyond the Brexit date.
He wishes to bring all the warring factions of UKIP together, and re-unite the party.
He is campaigning as his "own man" not pledging to be in the mold of anyone from the 2 factions. But he wants all the factions of UKIP to put down their weapons and meet in the middle and push forward for UKIP's future.
It is very important to note that Jonathan has the support of the former Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall, and a sizable chunk of Councillors and MEP's.
Jonathan has been a UKIP supporter, member and candidate in various elections since 2001 gaining impressive wins in tough Labour safe-areas, has experience in coordinating local elections and has successfully been part of the team that has garnered a large return in UKIP Councillors from a pool of 300 candidates. He has worked within the party for a period as General Secretary and successfully gained a seat in the European Parliament in 2014.
His experience in the Northern Labour heartlands is exactly what UKIP need to appeal to those disenfranchised voters, whilst the party continues to appeal to Conservative voters. I also believe his wide-ranging policy area and attitude might even attract some "true" Liberal Democrats away from the joke that has come to represent those words falsely.
Arnott has made himself known in the European Parliament, garnering some praise even by anti-Kippers and has been nothing short of 'exemplary', with a 98% attendance (top 100 MEPs) and a regular contributor in terms of questioning the European Parliament on its activities.
What UKIP needs now is somebody who can organise matters, set out a plan and make use of the talent within the party as well as attracting new talent into the party. The talent that we have in UKIP has been massively underutilised over the years, and a line needs drawing in the sand as far as internal wars and suspended candidates are concerned, and UKIP need to form a sort-of Shadow Cabinet to represent the party in key areas moving forward.
As I have said, UKIP desperately need to work on one of the things Nigel Farage did not do, and hasn't been spoken of by many of the other candidates apart from Jonathan, which is to expand UKIP's talent base and representation.
We cannot have the same faces in the media every single week whilst we have such exceptional talent within the party.
I am bored of seeing people from other parties joking about how the UKIP rep on Question Time has already been on a half dozen times over the course of a couple of years whilst I know there are such excellent people within the party who haven't been given the chance.
I have not hidden my desire to see UKIP evolve into something more than they have been up until now.
We need to move away from the "immigration-centric" message we have been putting out over the years and discuss things that are impacting people allover the country.
It is shameful that we have allowed the Labour Party to corner the topic areas that impact every day people over the last year.
The lack of proper training for employment (apprenticeship schemes and free/low cost further education), punishing people who cannot defend themselves for the "crime" of being frail as a result of illness, disability or other issue keeping them out of work and lack of job progression. We need to look at the lack of low cost housing within the UK, how the green-belt has been massively overdeveloped as an alternative to paying for brown-field site development and having a sensible open-minded attitude toward energy procurement.
We need to stop talking about mass migration as a bad thing, and talk about controlled immigration as a good thing. We need to recognise that Global migration in appropriate numbers is the way of the future and open peoples eyes to the unfair prejudicial system that is run by the EU.
We need to be a voice for people in local communities, and give people what they so desperately need. An opportunity in life with increased grammar schools for ALL and have elected officials who are there for everybody in their communities.
We need to look to expand the party at the council level by assisting the grassroots network with successful experience whilst using the other experienced elements of the party to get it done. This will have the added benefit of profiting a platform for upcoming national elections.
It needs to be a party of the people, and not the party of a person.
This I believe can be best gained by electing Jonathan Arnott as leader, and this is why I shall be voting for Jonathan Arnott in the upcoming leadership election.