Friday, 13 August 2010

NEC Election Interview: Michael McGough

Last week we promised a series of interviews with NEC election candidates.  The first one is with Michael McGough.
Michael, you've been a very active campaigner for a long time and you're involved in a number of group - the CIB, the Freedom Association and Better off Out amongst others - do you think your involvement in these other groups will help or hinder you in the NEC?

It can only help, there is no conflict as all are unconditional EU withdrawalists. A current NEC member actively involved at the top table in those bodies will further 'cross pollination' of ideas and campaigns and bring more cohesion to the withdrawalist movement, countering some of the criticism that there are too many disparate anti-EU groups.  UKIP will of course be my priority as the others are only pressure groups whereas UKIP, although a pressure group itself, is first and foremost a politrical party and only elected politicians will get us out of the EU.

The other groups are cross party and working closely with withdrawalists from other parties increases the chances that they will eventually join us,the only withdrawalist 'show in town' .Over the years I have witnessed a massive shift in groups such as TFA and the Bruges Group towards significant UKIP membership from what was once mainly Tories.CIB has a significant input from Labour and Unions many of whose members increasingly vote UKIP.

One problem facing UKIP is the perception that we are a eurosceptic arm of the Tories. There are a number of former Labour and Lib Dem supporters working their way up the ranks in UKIP but I think it's fair to say the membership is predominantly conservative leaning. Other than closer working with other eurosceptic groups, how do you think UKIP can broaden its appeal to attract voters outside of its traditional hunting grounds?

We must better communicate our excellent policies and the fact that we are the only credible party working in the national interest and that of all of our citizens.We need more capable public facing spokesman who aren't obviously 'Tory like' - we must be seen to be the party for the worker and those seeking work, UK jobs for UK workers and their children resonates.

As unemployment and taxes rise and already overstretched services are cutback we must use every electoral opportunity, especially town,district and county council elections to explain that only we seek to stop the burden of immigration from the EU (as well as elsewhere) to protect jobs and housing and that if we didn't pay so much to the EU many services could be maintained. We must have leaflets specifically aimed at Labour voters for use in traditional Labour areas .Lib Dem voters (what do they believe in?) will be harder to attract but many will be sympathetic to the same message after the coaltion experience. The key will be to target these groups rather than relying on generic material aimed at Tories.

We have tended to project a "Tory boy" image with our spokemen - Lord Pearson, Lord Monckton, David Campbell Bannerman, Nigel Farage. The top 3 posts in the party and our most prolific spokesman are held by what our friends on the left would term "toffs". This undoubtedly puts off a lot of potential members, is it something the party should look to change or should we try and capitalise on it?

I've partly addressed this above. I certainly think we need many more capable spokesman and they should be drawn from across the social and political spectrum within our party. We do of course have Gerard Batten a working class Londoner with a union background and our very own scouser Chairman Paul Nuttall, by no means a toff. They have both performed well in the media. While I want a full cross section represented I don't think it is the working class who are put off by toffs - they very often like and respect them in charge. The people who are more likely to be put off are the 30-50 year old metrosexual self satisfied middle classes. Having an Old Etonian leader of maturity and gravitas with successful business and life experience does much to show how lightweight and inexperiencd the young OE leading the country is. We are the party of all the people but many have yet to realise this.

People with money - even old money - tend to have it for a reason, I would rather a wealthy and successful businessman ran the country than, for example, the dour son of a Presbyterian minister. If only more people could see the sense in this!

I agree. The person you allude to supposedly had a moral compass; if he had, it pointed in the wrong direction. No sound businessman would have got our economy into such a state and destroyed the finest private pension provision in Europe.

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

I'd set up a shadow team with competence and media savviness to convey that we mean business and could govern if given the chance. This would be an extension of the policy groups with each subject spokesman supported by experts available at the end of a Blackberry pre media outings. There is already sufficient people of ability, experience and knowledge within the party to achieve this.

Thanks Micheal, best of luck with the election.