Today, UKIP stands at a critical juncture in its history. Do we go down the road of becoming a niche, street protest group? Or, do we get a grip, and regain our position as a real alternative to the establishment parties of Westminster?
In this election, you are not merely selecting a leader. You are deciding on the direction the party will take for years to come. If you believe like I do that the party should reject any form of extremism and challenge for Westminster seats; then you will agree that we need to reclaim our position as the party of common sense.
However, let us not underestimate the task ahead. After 18-months of decline into the fringes of British politics, UKIP today stands at less than 1% in the Westminster polls, and we no longer have any media presence whatsoever.
That is why UKIP needs a leader who can lead from the front in taking on the significant internal and external challenges involved in rebuilding our party. UKIP needs a leader who can push through changes to both our internal structure and external profile. A leader who will build a professional team to take the party forward. Someone who can put in place new internal and external communications structures to maximise the broad range of skill-sets our party contains and effectively communicate with our members. A leader who can make us a capable and competent electoral force moving forward; who seeks not only to represent the views of the membership but the majority of people in this country who are sick and tired of the Westminster status quo. Someone who listens; learns, and delegates to maximum effect; who can reclaim our public profile and rebuild public confidence in UKIP’s message. However, above all, a leader who can bring back common sense to the party that championed the concept in politics in the first place.
I believe I am the person who can deliver all of these things!
So, why Mike Hookem, you ask? My political journey did not start at a university or in political activism like so many of today’s politicians. Instead, my political journey began in Hull’s fishing community, into which I was born, and further developed on the building sites of Britain as I saw first-hand the effects of EU policies and Westminster weakness. As a working man at the time Labour opened the floodgates on mass immigration, I became increasingly disillusioned with the disconnect between the Establishment and ordinary working people. This situation caused me to look for a party that could offer a real alternative!
Since joining UKIP in 2007, I have held posts at every level in the party; from branch officer to deputy leader; Member of the European Parliament to Head of UK Delegation for EFDD. My background forms a significant part of the politician I have become, and I still retain the original objective for my involvement in politics in the first place. To help people toward a better life; a better standard of living; a fairer society; freedom of thought and speech; and protection against those elements who aim to endanger these values.
That is why, as UKIP leader, my focus will be on policy!
However, I will not tolerate policies that seek to divide and make our great party nothing more than a political pariah. I believe that our constitution is sound in demanding the party will conduct itself and its affairs in such a way that it does not discriminate against any person on the grounds of their race, religion, ethnic origin, education, beliefs, sexual orientation, class or social status.
For these reasons, the UKIP I lead will have policies based on common sense. Policy positions that are easy to understand, easily communicated, and which people will not be afraid to champion. I want policies that aim to protect our great nation; ensure Brexit becomes a reality and is the success we all envision. I also want to be a leader who is progressive in how we interact with our membership and how we develop our policy. I will push forward with plans for more direct democracy within UKIP; using modern technology and communications to provide members and officials with more interaction and transparency than has ever gone before.
In terms of the NEC, I would like to see changes to the constitution that will allow each region of the country to be represented at the highest level; and aim to change the professional structure of the party to be more responsive, more flexible, and more representative on both the regional and national level. No longer can we tolerate any areas of our party feeling alienated or ignored.
That is why I have put forward proposals for a new party structure that will not only professionalise the party but will also give regional representation at NEC level and make policy development a bottom-up process.
This is my vision for UKIP, and I hope you can lend me your vote to deliver.