In case you got here from my link in Independence (The UKIP magazine), yes “june24uk.com” is written by Gareth Williams, and I am a candidate (one of 90 candidates for 7 places) in the current NEC elections.
For my general views about where UKIP goes next please see my previous post. Here I am going to expand an my 150 word candidates statement. So anyone not a UKIP member might want to look elsewhere for entertainment.
I highlighted “governance” as my priority. Not because governance is the biggest issue facing UKIP, just because that is where I think I may be able to help. Governance is a bit like plumbing. When it works, you don’t think about it, but when it doesn’t it can cause a hell of a stink. The referendum victory clearly marks a watershed for UKIP. Whether or not there were obvious problems with the governance system, now would be a good time to review it.
I have over 15 years experience in the governance of a trade association, as a drafter of the constitution, chairman, board member, and council member. I have taken part in several governance reviews. But I am not going to turn up wearing a “governance expert” hat and expect to tell everyone what to do. Actually I don’t think there is such a thing as a governance expert. Like child rearing and education, governance is not a science and there are no real experts, there are just people who have more or less experience, some of whom have learned from it, and some who haven’t. I hope I have learned something and would like to put that at the service of the party (I also have eight children, that’s another story).
From reading the candidates statements I see others are interested in governance. I am sure most readers (who have got this far) will have seen Nigel Farage’s wonderful rant that the NEC are “amateurs” who turn up every month “with their sandwiches in their ruck-sacks”. From this I learned a couple of very important things about the NEC.
1) It is unpaid, and
2) UKIP does not provide lunch.
I think I also perhaps detect a certain frostiness in the relationship between the NEC and the leadership. A simple measure like laying on a bit of lunch for people who are giving up their time for free can go a long way towards improving the human relationships. Nothing extravagant, just a bit of chicken, perhaps. There are hotels in London that do this quite well.
Reforming the actual governance will take much longer. I do not have any preconceived ideas about what needs to change. I would suggest setting up a working party with say four elected NEC members, the new party leader, anyone else the leader wants on board, and an external moderator. This group should look at absolutely everything and produce a report back to the NEC, with the ultimate aim of putting a revised constitution and rule book to the AGM.
And if I am elected I won’t be turning up with a policy agenda I want to see the party adopt. I have my own strong views on a whole range of issues, of course. But I don’t see a place on the NEC as a licence to try to foist them on the party. The NEC should be about making sure the party is run properly. Policy must come from the widest possible consultation within and indeed outside the party (see my previous post for more on this). Ensuring there is a robust policy making process must be a part of the governance review.
The final thing I would like to say is that I am not a member of anyone’s faction, and nor will I be joining one. I have met Nigel Farage, once, and I like him. That does not mean that I dislike anyone else on the NEC, or elsewhere in UKIP. One of my strengths is that I am able to get on with anyone. That does not mean I try to be everyone’s best friend, just that I can disagree with you about one thing, or about everything, and not bear a grudge, have a drink afterwards and the next issue is a new page. We need to put the past behind us and get on with building a party worthy of the people we hope to represent.
Please ask any NEC-related questions by replying to this post.