Saturday 14 August 2010

NEC Election Interview: Steve Allison

The next in our series of interviews with NEC candidates is with Steve Allison.
Steve, you're a busy person.  You're a businessman, a councillor and doing research for Sunderland University.  Where are you going to find the time to try and right the "capsized swan" that is UKIP?

In September this year our son will be joining Carnival Cruise Lines as an Engineering Officer Cadet and our daughter will start her second year of Law at Kings College London.  My wife and I will be "empty nesters". I don't think time to do things will be a problem, at least until the grandchildren start to come along, which hopefully will not be for at least another 10 years!

I actually find the more I do the more I want to do! My wife and I have already started going to the Theatre again and I am in the process of installing a ground source heat pump in my home which involves considerable ground works and plumbing (You can see some pictures if you like at

We are also keen scuba divers, I keep bees, (nothing like your own honey on your bread) and I have recently taken up Tai Chi. I'm not the sort of person who can just sit and watch TV for very long, I get bored! So I don't think lack of time is going to be a problem!
A ground source heat pump?  Is that a money saving exercise or are you a believer in man-made global warming?

I am a sceptic when it comes to "Man Made" global warming but I think energy efficiency and sustainability are just common sense and financial good practise. Why waste resources? I am not on mains gas and currently have oil fired heating and hot water. When I first commissioned the system (in the early 1990's) the oil tank cost me just over £100 to fill. My last fill was just a few quid under £800 and that is only going to get worse. The ground source heat pump will enable me to completely do away with the oil system and will cost to run approximately 1/4 of the current price of oil. There is also a government incentive currently available which gives me a £1,000 a year tax credit. This is guaranteed for the next 21 years! I will get my money back in just under 4 years, after that my heat and hot water will be free (actually will be paid for by the government as my running costs will be less than my tax rebate, good deal eh!)

Thanks for the tip, I'll dig my shovel out of the garage! You've been a UKIP councillor for some time, one of a growing number of UKIP parish, town, borough and county councillors. There are plans to set up a "support group" for UKIP councillors, what other measures would you put in place to support this vital link between the party and the electorate?

I was almost a lone voice for many years in UKIP when I called for the Party to take local elections seriously and I still think the party doesn’t put enough effort into getting involved in grass roots or local community campaigns. Unfortunately it takes a lot of time and effort to establish yourself as a local councilor at Borough or County Council level, especially when you are fighting with a campaign team of one and a budget of only a few quid. Peter Reeve showed what could be done with a big budget and loads of help but UKIP don’t have the resources to do that in loads of seats. Where I do think UKIP is missing a trick is at Parish Council level. Seats here are much easier to take and it's at this very bottom level where one person with a minimal budget can take a seat.

Unfortunately I am no longer a Hartlepool Borough Councillor. I lost my seat in the May 2010 Elections. The Labour Party took the seat from me by just over 100 votes, with some very Machiavellian tactics, involving bring in a candidate with the same name as a very popular independent councilor, who has represented the ward for nearly 20 years and has a huge personal following, plus with the assistance of the Tories, who had not stood a candidate in my ward for the past 20 years, but stood one against me this time. The Labour vote almost doubled from their usual level and the Tories took nearly 200 votes! UKIP might say standing in some constituencies in the General Election cost the Tories some MPs but it also worked the other way round for me, the Tories gave my Council seat to Labour!

The UKIP Councilors' Association is, I believe; only open to sitting Councilors, so I'm not eligible to be a member. If it is open to ex-councilors then I’d be delighted to help in any way I can and have already offered advice and support to any individual, branch or region that would like me to help them. So far only the North West have taken me up on my offer and I am going to the North West council candidates meeting being arranged by Fred McGlade at the end October (date to be confirmed)t o impart my knowledge to his candidates (or as he calls them, his victims).

PS Anyone looking for a stocking filler for Christmas might want to check out Fred’s new book, “The history of the British Army Film and Photographic unit in the second world war” by Dr. Fred McGlade, published by Helion and Company (ISBN–987-1-906033-94-1). Due out in September this year.

One final question: if every member of the new NEC was given the chance to introduce one change unopposed, what would yours be?

Now that's a hard one (as the actress said to the Bishop!) One day my sense of humor will get me into trouble, or should I say MORE trouble! Anyone who follows Monty Python will know why I might claim Golf, Strangling Animals and Masturbation as hobbies! (Although I’m trying to cut down on the golf). Anyone who is not a Python devote will just think they are strange things to admit to!

Anyway, I digress.

There are so many things I'd like to change about the NEC, not least the NEC Election procedures, moving the meetings to a weekend, having the NEC produce a party business plan, assigning NEC Member an area of special responsibility under the plan or even making the post of Party Chairman a full time, paid, position. However, if there was only one thing then I think it would have to be making the NEC start from a position of openness and transparency.

At the moment EVERYTHING the NEC discusses is considered to be confidential and only very highly sanitised minutes are allowed to reach the membership. I would start from the assumption that the membership are entitled to know what their NEC are discussing UNLESS a majority of the NEC agreed, on an item by item basis, that a particular topic needed to be confidential. This would make confidential items the exception rather than the rule and any item that was judged confidential would have to be justified as such.

Thanks Steve, best of luck in the election.