A new manifesto, conspiracy theorists, and Tommy Robinson: what to watch out for at the UKIP conference.
The event, to take place at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre (ICC) is being billed as UKIP’s 25th birthday party celebration.
UKIP leader Gerard Batten has claimed that “In my first conference speech as Leader, I will outline where we are now and more importantly where I want us to go in the future.”
Watch out for:
UKIP are set to launch a new interim manifesto at the conference, handed out to all attendees, with “brand new policies on the economy, housing, taxation, policing, the foreign aid budget and many other important areas, all designed with the key principle of putting our people first”.
Batten, a veteran anti-Muslim activist, has taken UKIP in a new, much more brazenly extreme direction since taking the reins in February. This manifesto will give us a taste if his increasingly far-right rhetoric will be translated into far-right policies.
One to watch out for will be the involvement of the set of extreme online figures Batten has welcomed into the party, including far-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson, anti-feminist YouTuber Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad) and Mark Meechan (aka Count Dankula), an online “comedian” best known for teaching his girlfriend’s pug how to do a nazi salute.
The figures have a considerable online reach (Watson, for example, claims over 250 million views on his YouTube videos). The content he pushes is also extreme; for example, in 2013 he described the 7/7 bombings as a “false flag event”. Media Matters have also reported Watson’s claims that liberals are anti-science for not accepting that African and Middle Eastern people are more aggressive because they have lower IQs, stating that “You can’t deny that there are differences between races when it comes to IQ”.
Benjamin is currently listed as a speaker at UKIP’s youth conference, and Watson and Benjamin have claimed they will have a “booth” with a table set up.
The conference had been set to allow members to vote on whether far-right extremist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) should be allowed to join the party.
Lennon had released a video titled “My message to UKIP’s NEC” in which he had asked the party to allow him to become a member, necessary due to UKIP’s ban on former members of far-right parties, such as the British National Party (BNP) and English Defence League (EDL).
With the support of Batten, the vote had been scheduled to go ahead, before party chairman Tony McIntyre blocked it due to a procedural technicality.
Lennon’s supporters are animated, however, and are likely to make their presence felt at the conference.