I may be many things, but I’m not your average cookie-cutter candidate for the leadership of a political party. Good! That’s not what UKIP’s about. We’re not a Party of characterless conveyor-belt politicians who’ve gone through revolving doors from university to research jobs to Parliament without ever going through real life first.
I’m a bit different. I’m a little unusual. But do you know what? That’s the UKIP way!
I went to university at the age of 15, eventually getting a Masters Degree in Mathematics. You’ll have seen how UKIP members are accused of being uneducated just because many come from a working-class background; they won’t be able to use that kind of insult with me as Leader.
I’ve managed sports and community recreation schemes working for a local Council, I’ve set up a charity from scratch and I’ve done live football commentaries for the last twenty years on Scunthorpe Hospital Radio (I remember my roots; my family come from Scunthorpe as my grandad was a local bobby – his experiences in the Army and policing taught me so much about why law and order truly matters).
20 years of experience in front of a microphone is always useful. It teaches you a lot. All kind of things can go wrong when you’re on air. A player could be stretchered off, the match could be suspended during a thunderstorm, there could be a pitch invasion or even a streaker. You get no warning, and have to be calm enough to keep the show on the road. That’s what I do in politics too: I keep my head when all around are losing theirs. It’s helped me understand the media too. Because I’ve interviewed players and managers many times, I understand what journalists are looking for too. That gives me an edge when you get those tough questions on an interview, and why you’ll not find any gaffes in my radio or TV interviews.
My main job before politics was as a Maths teacher, something which suited my skills because I’m good at explaining difficult concepts to people in a simple way. That’s always stood me in good stead for politics. I speak Spanish, fluently enough to have done a number of recent interviews in Spanish with radio stations across Spain. I have always believed it’s important for those who immigrate to Britain to integrate and learn our language. But I’m no hypocrite, so I think as I spend so much time abroad I should do myself what I expect others to do when they come to the UK.
If you want a candidate who’ll deal with the arcane inner workings of the Party, I spent nearly 6 years as General Secretary of UKIP. When I took on that role, the Party was being crippled by unaffordable legal bills every year. I started to professionalise the Party and compiled our first ever rule book (though I never quite got the chance to finish the job as I got elected). I know this Party inside out, and that’s why I believe I’m the man to propose the right reform to our structure to take us to the next level.
In 2014 I became the UKIP Member of European Parliament for North East England, and that’s where I’m likely to remain until I’m made unemployed by our success in getting Brexit. In that time I’ve got used to the skill of brevity: when you’ve got 60 seconds to make your point or your microphone gets cut off, you learn disciplined public speaking. Our opponents love to attack UKIP members as not doing any work; my voting record of 97% and the fact that I’ve done more speeches in that Parliament than any other British MEP of any Party means that they can’t possibly attack me on that score.
I’m married, my father-in-law was a miner, and at the age of 35 if I’m elected as the next UKIP leader it’ll make me the youngest leader of a major political party since William Pitt in 1783. If you’ve ever thought that UKIP needs to get more young people voting for and joining the Party, I’m your man!
In my spare time I’m a chessplayer. I used to captain the Yorkshire team, and before that I was an England Under-21 international. I’ve represented Great Britain at the board game Stratego, got a couple of bronze medals from the World Team championships and I was even once (very luckily) world champion at Stratego Barrage. Does planning, strategy, outmanoeuvring your opposition and the ability to take decisions under pressure have any application to politics? I believe it does.
If you’re a UKIP member you don’t want a cardboard cut-out politician. I’m not a cardboard cut-out politician. Therefore you should vote for me. (That’s the politician’s syllogism, and it’s nonsense, but it’s been working for politicians for centuries so who am I to argue?)