Saturday 20 February 2016

[UPDATED 17:05] West Midlands regional conference in Wolverhampton

We're blogging from the first ever UKIP West Midlands regional conference in Wolverhampton today. Congratulations to regional chairman Dave Everitt and his team on securing an excellent venue in the Wolverhampton racecourse and the support of a broad range of organisations as well as party leader Nigel Farage who will be making an appearance later today.

17:05 Nigel's speech in a nutshell: Let's roll our sleeves up, let's win this referendum

16:55 Questions and Answers are over, it's Nigel time!

16:40 Nigel Farage is in the building

16:25 Standing ovation for Deputy Leader, Paul Nuttall. Passionate and inspirational.

16:20 It is estimated that between 4 and 8 million people will come to Europe this year alone. We must be the party that protects womens' rights. We must be the party that says Sharia courts where a woman has half the value of a man have no place here. We should be the party that tells women you should not have to live your life hidden behind a veil.

16:16 I must point out that Paul Nuttall has said a lot but like the rest of the room I'm far too busy clapping every other thing he says. He's really on form today.

16:15 The first place we should start is to reignite our links with our kith and kin in the Commonwealth.

16:00 What people are voting on on 23rd June can be amended or rejected by MEPs. The EU Parliament is no friend of Britain ... they can alter this and they will.

16:00 The legend that is Paul Nuttall MEP - UKIP's Deputy Leader - takes the stage. The biggest round of applause of the day so far. Says this is the time to right the wrong of 1973.

15:55 Jim says we should open our arms once again to our Commonwealth cousins and is greeted with a huge round of applause.

15:50 Jim Carver MEP points out there was nothing in David Cameron's negotiations about withdrawing from the EU courts and taking back control of our legal system or taking back our seat on the World Trade Organisation.

15:40 John Flack wants UKIPpers to campaign as Grassroots Out, not as UKIP, not as Labour, not as Conservatives. This isn't the message from the party.

15:40 National Director of Grassroots Out, John Flack, pays tribute to UKIP and Nigel Farage for making the referendum happen. He says he simply does not believe what the Prime Minister says. He's a Tory. What does that say about David Cameron?

15:35 Steve Crowther wants every door knocked in the 18 weeks to the referendum. That's going to require a massive canvassing operation.

15:25 Caught up with the Imam from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and got his name. It's Imam Aqeel Kang.

15:25 If we vote to stay in the EU Parliament will get to vote on it after we've voted. And will they decide to give us what we want after we've voted to stay?

15:20 The EU Court of Justice has a history of ignoring legally binding agreements, even if they've been deposited with the UN.

15:15 Party Chairman, Steve Crowther, takes to the stage. He's almost as Marmite as Nigel but who can deny that the party has thrived under his tutelage?

14:45 Drivers contribute £50bn to the Treasury but only £6bn is reinvested into the road network so why should we pay any tolls for roads or bridges? Putting tolls on top of the fuel duty and road tax we already pay is simply wrong.

14:45 Drivers contribute £50bn to the Treasury but only £6bn is reinvested into the road network so why should we pay any tolls for roads or bridges? Putting tolls on top of the fuel duty and road tax we already pay is simply wrong.

14:40 Jill Seymour MEP - UKIP's Transport spokesman - takes the stage. UKIP has always been against HS2 and will continue to stand up and fight for those affected along its route. HS2 is part of the EU's TEN-T project, that's why successive British governments have agreed to spend £55bn on reducing traveling time from London to Edinburgh by 20 minutes. The EU Transport Committee wants to ban diesel cars from urban centres by 2020 and petrol cars by 2030.

14:35 Louise Bours MEP: UKIP's message is clear - believe in the NHS, leave the European Union

14:30 Louise says Jeremy Corbyn signing petitions to save the NHS from TTIP is disingenuous when the Labour Party is going to campaign to stay in the EU.

14:25 UKIP Health Spokesman, Louise Bours, says that TTIP will make the NHS less about public health and more about private wealth. The NHS should always be about TLC not PLC, public need not private greed.

14:20 Bill says we're no pale blue watered down Conservative Party, we're UKIP. We are the party that says what it means and means what it says.

14:15 Cllr Bill Etheridge MEP takes to the stage. After the referendum victory we'll march on and take council seats and Westminster seats. And why not see Nigel Farage as Prime Minister.

14:05 Nigel says Nissan are investing £100m in Sunderland, HSBC and Jaguar are staying in the UK. They wouldn't be investing in the UK if they thought there was a risk if we left the EU. If the CBI says it's a bad thing it must be a good thing.

Michael Gove breaks David Cameron's "collective responsibility" embargo and backs Leave

13:55 And we're into the first half of the afternoon session with journalist Nigel Hastilow. Warm words for UKIP from the former Tory candidate who used his newspaper column last year to tell voters to abandon UKIP and vote Conservative. Thanks UKIP for making sure there is a referendum and making sure David Cameron had no choice but to honour his promise.

12:45 When I first joined UKIP is was one of the youngest members. Now even the party director is younger than me. Thanks for making me feel old Paul.

12:35 Paul says that winning the election isn't the end. UKIP will still be here and injecting common sense into every level of politics. We stand to make big gains in Wales and get the party's first elected representatives in Scotland.

12:30 Party Director, Paul Oakden, takes the stage. He's wearing a Wolves tie in solidarity with the regional chairman. Apparently they're a football team. Paul asks every member in the room to stand if they've ever stood for election for UKIP - it's about 75% of the members.

BREAKING NEWS: Cameron announces referendum for June 23rd

12:25 First mention of the BBC by a speaker met with groans. Our EU-subsidised state broadcaster isn't very popular amongst the rank and file membership.

12:22 If we have to pay tariffs when we leave the EU then so be it. They export twice as much to us as we export to them. For every £1 we have to pay in tariffs they would have to pay £2. So bring it on!

12:20 Bob says that we should embrace the growing global market, including the Commonwealth, rather than the relatively tiny, shrinking EU. If the EU applied to join itself today it would be rejected because it would fail its own democracy test, being run by unelected commissioners like Neil Kinnock who got their jobs by losing elections.

12:10 Dr Bob Spink - technically UKIP's first MP - takes the stage. Plenty of laughter from the room when he defines politics: Poly as in "many" and Tics as in "blood sucking insects". Bob seems to regret resigning the UKIP whip almost as soon as he took it which he says lost him his seat at the next election but will be standing as UKIP Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Essex.

12:05 UKIP West Midlands regional chairman, Dave Everitt, is presented with a thank you gift from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

12:00 The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community raises over £500m a year for charities including the Royal British Legion. The Community has a 200 year history of promoting peace and tolerance, loyalty and being law abiding.

11:55 The Iman (sorry, didn't catch his name) says that the Koran says it is your duty as a muslim to obey those who rule you locally. It is the duty of a muslim to obey the law and integrate with society. Love of one's country is part of Islam.

11:50 An Imam from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community takes the stage. The actions of extremists with their corrupt ideology grieves all real muslims.

11:45 Flo says that LGBT* people are disproportionately affected by mental health issues, homelessness and social and economic deprivation. UKIP is accused of being homophobic but Flo has had "nothing but respect and equality" from members of the party.

11:35 The second session kicks off with Flo Lewis, chair of LGBT* in UKIP.

West Midlands Young Independence Chairman, Cllr Thomas Hoof, takes to the stage. The media tell us that young people don't join UKIP and don't want to leave the EU. Young Independence represents about 10% of the party's membership and is growing month on month.

Cllr Peter Reeve - UKIP Local Government Spokesman - leads with a tribute to the late Cllr Steve Povey who showed the party how to do local politics.

UKIP Disabilities Spokesman Cllr Star Anderton tells conference about the challenges facing disabled people in light of the cuts being made by local authorities. Shopmobility services are being cut, housing for disabled people is being cut, social housing is being cut.

Martin Day from the UKIP Save the Pub Campaign issues a rallying call to members to get behind pubs and fight pub closures.