Friday, 2 November 2012

My YI Hustings Speech

Alexandra Swann put it best in her recent speech at conference, Young Independence are more than just leaflet fodder. We are not the gagged, controlled sheep of CF, used by the main party as little more than a campaigning tool. The beauty of UKIP is not only its passionate belief in freedom, but its following of it. Young Tories who join YI hail it as a breath of fresh air, the freedom to speak their minds and be valued for more than how many leaflets they can stuff through doors on election day.

Election campaigns are important, YI has a big role to play. When I helped organise the YI target seats campaign and YI action days at Feltham & Heston during my time elections officer I saw first hand how influential YI could be. But we are more than just an election machine.

Under Harry Aldridge YI has changed from being a small elitist group to a truly national organisation, one that is no longer focused on a few small individuals but has the beginnings of a strong regional presence, with Young Independence Yorkshire operating as a semi autonomous council, with moves to set similar structures up in the North West, West Mids and here in London . We have gone from being invisible on University campuses to having societies set up or in the process of being set up in Universities from Portsmouth to Aberdeen. No mean feat in under two years.

We need to build on, not tear up, the foundations that have been laid. I am standing on a platform, endorsed by Harry, to continue his work. As someone who set up a society at University of York I understand the difficulties in facing campus bureaucracy, the need for help from central YI in securing speakers and navigating student unions. That is why I would create a dedicated Universities officer, whose role is to assist all societies in attracting as many members as possible.

The regions of YI are another area that need nurturing, I want to turn the Grassroots officer into a position that focuses on helping build up regional committees so that we can have semi autonomous YI councils all over the country, operating at a regional level, tailoring training, campaigning and social events to their local needs.

One of the dangers of turning Young Independence into just campaigning drones is that it becomes an elitist group once again. When I became Social Media Director one of the things I looked to build on was the fledgling online community of YI activists. Now the Director of Policy at the ASI has said that YI tweeters are a cut above the average, and many of our defectors, including Richard Lowe PPC for Chester and Lee Jenkins Chairman of the Bolton branch among many others, have said that it was this warm community, where friends on sites like twitter debated politics, joked and chatted, was a major factor in convincing them to join.

For YI to prosper and flourish it needs to build on the sense of community we have, not be simply a campaigning clique. To get people to join, and to get fringe members to dedicate their time, effort and money in YI projects we have to build friendships and links, make them feel part of the group. Holding regular social events, not just in London but all over the country, is key to continuing YI’s progress as a rapidly growing organisation. We cannot hope that people will start campaigning for UKIP in a dedicated fashion unless we give them a reason to do so. We need affordable social events, which will encourage new and fringe members to come along, meet others and become emotionally involved in the party.

The trip to Brussels was a great example of this. I met many new members of UKIP, who had been involved in YI for only a few months there, many who have, fired up with enthusiasm after meeting others, gone on to start YI uni branches, Yi regional branches and stand for council for UKIP. As well meaning as my opponent might be in wanting to turn trips into those for the Chairman approves by doing so we would lose a great way to invigorate new members. Successful YI-ers should be rewarded, but not at the expense of expanding and growing our organisation

So how can we reward those who help improve YI? I want to start a YI conference, a real conference, not just a glorified campaigning day YI has in the past been too modest, focusing only in doing the next task to help the party. While I commend this attitude it is not too much to take one day a year to show the party how much Young Independence has done for UKIP as well as using it as a chance to congratulate high performing members.

Secondly the Council needs to use the talents of those who do the most for YI by expanding on the currently used sub teams. The YI Social Media sub team has allowed us to expand our presence online, increasing our twitter presence by 1700 followers, doubling our Facebook likes to 1000 and re-invigorating YI’s IndHome blog that gets between 500-10,000 readers a day depending on submissions. Each council member is only one person with their own life as well, we need to use all the talent in YI if the Council is going to fulfil all its goals.

YI is becoming an organisation that is fitting as the youth wing of Britain’s fourth party. UKIP however is no longer Britain’s fourth party. To catch back up we need to expand. While more focus on Universities and more regular social activities will play a big role in this we cannot expect people to come to us. Having a bigger role for regions will help with actively recruiting people, but I want to go further. Using the links with organisations like Liberty League, TFA and Young Britons Foundations that members such as John Gill, Harry Aldridge and myself have attended I want a much bigger push of UKIPs common sense message of freedom. These organisations conferences and events should be prime recruiting grounds for us, and if elected Chairman I will prioritise building more links with these groups and so spread YI’s influence into those who are both most likely to listen to our message and to, once converted, become full time activists.

So what do I bring to the role as Chairman? While it offends my sense of Britishness to talk too much about myself I suppose needs must. I feel I have a more rounded view of YI, seeing us not just as a tool for the main party but as a fantastic organisation in our own right. Equally seeing YI members not as people who need to be mollycoddled and controlled by centralised YI or UKIP authorities but given as much power and help as possible to go out there and make changes to their local UKIP branches, YI regional branches and indeed their own communities as possible.

I want to carry on the good work that has been started, to help YI fulfil the potential it has and to be the influential group both inside and outside UKIP that it deserves to be. If you share my dream of a YI run for and by its members, treating them as people not tools I would ask you to help me implement it by voting Olly Neville for YI Chair

If you would like any further information please visit, tweet me at @olly4yi, email me at or comment on my Facebook page Olly Neville For YI Chairman

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