The journalists are here, the security teams have arrived, activists are appearing. This will be the approximately the forth conference UKIP has held at the Riviera Centre in Torquay. It’s handy for Newton Abbot where the party has been headquartered for as long as anybody can remember. I’m a bit disappointed actually, it’s well known in UKIP that I only joined because I wanted to see every seaside town in the country, I’ve been to Torquay several times, we could be going Bognor or Conwy or Tenby or Salcombe or something, it’s pretty unsatisfactory, I should cut up my membership card.
The UKIP conference isn’t what it used to be, I’ll admit it. The wife and I were talking in the car on the way here and whilst I was able to recall nights out of long and unbound debauchery she could only remember small gatherings which could barely be described as such and I found in the in that I had to agree. It’s the problem with winning, since the referendum and the 2015 general election it feels as though peak-UKIP has come and gone. The big question we’re all thinking about and the main reason for attending is to find out whether or not we voted for the right leader.
UKIP is in the middle of a leadership contest and in the middle of two other party conferences for Labour in Brighton and the Conservatives next week in Manchester. The leadership contest is a tight race and that makes it very difficult to predict. I’m willing to venture that Aiden Powlesland, despite having the most ambitious plans (to mine the asteroid belt), David Kurten will follow. After that it will be a fairly close race between 4 candidates!
There is a real sense now that UKIP is really teetering on the precipice now. Activists and party employees agree that if Anne-Marie Waters wins the party is finished. I’m not naming any names but that sentiment has been confirmed to me several times on different occasions. It may be an echo of comments from Farage back in the summer when this contest began. It is a tight contest but I think in the end kippers know how to do the right thing and they won’t vote themselves into oblivion. We find out at the end of the day.