Friday, 20 August 2010

NEC Election Interview: Ray Finch

The latest (and probably last!) in our series of interviews with NEC Election candidates is with Ray Finch.
Ray, one of your suggestions for changes to the NEC is to allow regions to have representatives on the NEC. It's an interesting idea but surely that's going to increase the size of the NEC considerably. Will the NEC still function efficiently with that many members?

Why should it? I understand that committees should not be unwieldy but if we have one from each region and the leader and an MEP rep that gives us fourteen which is approximately the same number as presently. It will give the members in regions who are presently unrepresented a voice and a say in the future of our party. Why should the south east (my region) and the south west, two of the most heavily represented regions, make decisions on things that affect, say, Scotland or Northern Ireland, without any input from those places? I believe it is a question of fairness and democracy. Two of the principles that our party stand for.

I see, I thought you were suggesting regional members in addition to the current compliment. So your idea is to elect a 12 member NEC from each of the euroregions? I can understand the motivation but doesn't that limit the choice of members?

The present system limits the choice. This gives people from regions that do not at present have their voices heard, a voice. It is a question of fairness and making the party a truly national one.

That's an interesting point - assuming you define "national" as "British", how much of a national party are we? We suffer from the same problem as the Tories in Scotland - we are seen as a right wing English party, both of which are toxic brands north of the border. What would you suggest we do to make the party electable outside of England?

First we need to lose the "right wing" tag. Both of the "wings" right and left, are just authoritarian. We need to ensure that people understand we are a party of freedom and a party of the union. We have already made a start in Wales. We need to devote some resources into both Scotland and Northern Ireland. I understand our north western region are helping Northern Ireland. This is good but we need to help centrally as well. We should start by, as we should do in England, fielding candidates in as many local elections as possible. We must grow organically. Turning up every 5 years or so for EU and General elections will not help build the parties in those places. Featuring them in our party election broadcasts will help too!

We don't do enough to raise our profile between elections and what we do do tends to be disjointed and down to individual branches. We're not a rich party, what can we do with the resources we have and how do we make sure our efforts are joined up?

This is answered in my discussion document "UKIP 2015" now updated and soon to be available at a conference near you. I propose a "Head of candidates" to run training and also a priority list of target constituencies and offer them as individual units to donors to sponsor.

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

Open voting on the NEC so that the actions of the members are transparent.

Thanks Ray, best of luck.
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