It's now February. A month earlier the notorious Ollyshambles occurred and the Young Independence Council nominated, then Events Officer, Rob Comley to the position of YI Chairmen. Comley later asked me for an interview - it was believed to be the right thing to do leading to the YI Elections in March. So here it is; Bloggers4UKIP interviews YI Caretaker Chair Rob Comley:
Q1. How do you feel taking on such an overwhelming role in Ukip, especially after such chaos?
It is an absolute honor to look after Young Independence, even if it is for the short time until the annual elections in March. As I have said many times over the past few weeks, it is incredibly important that we all work together until this time, for the best of YI, regardless of whether you see yourself as more libertarian or conservative. This is something I have tried to stress since day one of being asked to take over and it is the message I will be trying to convey until the elections in March.
Q2. What are your views on Ollyshambles?
I have spoken to Olly personally over the past few weeks about his plans for the YI council and the direction we were going in during his brief spell as chairman. Myself and him get on rather well and agree on many internal YI council issues and these are the policies I have tried to follow up and complete. It is important that we try to move on from the situation and move forward for the best of the party. I would, however, like to take this just to say on record that I disagree with Olly’s controversial views.
Q3. Do you support the voluntary resignations which have taken place within YI? Have they managed to discuss their concerns with you?
It was sad to see Gareth Shanks and Allrick Birch resign as Elections Officer and Treasurer, respectively. Myself and Gareth are good friends and I can understand why he was upset. We spoke about his concerns on a number of occasions after I took over and although I tried my best to persuade him to continue, he thought it was best to step down. He has since decided to focus on running for YI Yorkshire chair and I wish him the best of luck. I met with Allrick personally to discuss his resignation, and again, I asked him to continue until March but did stress that he should do what he feels best.
Q4. Why have you appointed Harry Aldridge - the 2011-2012 Chair of the Youth Wing - to the position of Vice-Chair?
After I was asked to take over as YI Caretaker Chair Harry rang me to offer a helping hand. I deemed it important to have stability within YI and Harry, having the experience as YI Chair himself, seemed like the perfect person to offer this. I asked if he would be willing to come back onto the council until March as my vice and he was very happy to do so. He has been a great help!
Q5. What does the future look like for Young Independence?
We have just finished putting together a ‘reformation of YI’ document and presented this to Steve Crowther and Will Gilpin during a four hour long meeting – there wasn’t a topic that we didn’t cover regarding YI internally and externally!
Externally, you will see a lot of changes slowly happening to YI over the next 12 months, especially between now and March. In the next elections we are planning on removing the social media officer position, instead combining it with the communication’s officer’s duties, as well as adding a universities officer.
Regional YI branches have been approved and we now have 8 Interim regional chairs – Robin Hunter-Clarke (East Midlands), Daniel Thistlewaite (Easter Counties), Jack Duffin (London), Matt Mackinnon (North West), Oluf Marshall (Scotland), Chris Wood (South East), Reece Warren (South West) and Thomas Hoof (West Midlands), as well as Sam Launder taking care of the Yorkshire region. This means that new members can talk to someone and get involved at a local level, as well as nationally.
We have also listened to what was wanted from our members and we have decided that it is time for a new YI website – this is something we believe to be vital in keeping up with other political youth wings. Getting our message across to university students and young workers equally is also vital and we will be planning an event to get some of these people involved between now and March.
Internally, we will be putting new rules into place to ensure YI runs smoothly and efficiently as the youth wing of UKIP. We will also be planning the March election to ensure that this goes ahead without any glitches.
Q6. What is your perspective of YIs interjection into universities?
I believe that working with Universities is an important part of YI. Students currently feel let-down by the current government, especially the Lib-dems. We are now the only major political party with a ‘no-tuition fee’ policy and it is vital that we get this message out there to attract more student voters. We now have four official student societies set up around the country and over twenty more trying to set up. It is important that we continue to work with these groups and I shall be trying to push this up until March, hopefully arranging a University activist’s day with guest speakers. Since I was elected onto the council I have been in the process of writing a ‘how to set up a society’ booklet and I shall be completing this very shortly.
Q7. How about sixth forms, and even the bigger youth picture; e.g. Youth clubs and public events?
Away from YI I have been setting up a schools and colleges project in my local area, with the intention of making it national. The aim of the ‘MyLife-MyChoice’ project is to get young people between the ages of 15-18 interested in politics and out voting by the time they are 18. I also get the students to make a choice on whether they approve of the European Union. This has been approved by the Bexley chairman, David Coburn NEC and will hopefully start in the next couple of weeks.
Q8. You were elected to the position of Events Officer back in the good old days of November. Do you wish to continue administering events for YI post-March?
My main focus at this current time is steering YI into the right direction and I have been too busy trying to do this that I have yet to consider my future on the council from March. I don’t actually think I’ve gone to bed earlier than 2 o’clock in the morning since I have taken over! I’ve been told on many occasions by my partner that I need to know when to stop but I am so determined to make YI successful that it has outweighed most things in life recently!
In the meantime, my first event is on Saturday 9th February where ourselves and UKIP’s LGBTQ* will be having a joint get together at the Charring Cross Players Bar, London from 7.30PM. Everyone is invited and we are lucky enough to have David Coburn addressing members!
Q9. What are your hobbies and why did you join Ukip, in brief?
I have always had a great interest in politics and history and although I have qualifications in animal welfare, as this was the original political direction I was going towards in life, I decided that party politics was the place I wanted to be. Away from politics I have an obsession with vintage and ‘Indie’ clothing and you will often find me walking the streets of Brick Lane, as well as a strong passion for music and going to the theatre – so much so that I think I have seen The Woman in Black at the West-end close to ten times now!
I have always voted UKIP at every opportunity and decided it was time to become an official member in the spring of 2012. I remember looking at the 2010 manifesto and agreeing with everything that I read – I automatically fell in love with the policies and haven’t seen anything to change my mind since. I lived in Chelmsford, Essex for a brief spell last year and tried to get involved there as much as I could as a supporter, but on moving back to my family home in Bexley I have been an enthusiast, becoming the Secretary of my branch as well as trying to set up a society at the University of Greenwich where I am now studying a BA in Politics.
Thanks for your time Rob.