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Archive for May, 2014

Update

Real life got in the way of this blog somwhat, and I just decided to post an update with a little backstory here to fill in a few details regarding what I’ve been busy working on.

This is not something I’ve written about on the blog before, so if it’s not your scene, feel free to skip and I’ll be writing some more posts in the near future.

It was 1997. Tony Blair had just been elected Prime Minister, and I recall sitting there watching the TV news thinking that things had taken a turn decidedly for the worst. Rather than just support the opposition I wrote a lot of letters to try and find people who shared my feelings on the scene in the UK at the time, particularly with regard to its relationship with the EU.

The group that most closely matched my views was a tiny political party that no one had ever heard of. At that time, it had about 6,000 members nationally, no party structure or hierarchy, no organised local branches or groups, and no elected representatives either locally or nationally. The Head Office was usually manned by an answerphone.

I contacted the lady who had been the candidate in our local constituency in the 1997 general election, and she told me that one of the borough councillors in my area had stepped down to move abroad, and would I like to contest the seat?

So I sent off my membership application to the party, contacted the borough council to fill in the necessary forms, and designed an election leaflet. Perhaps it was because the family ran a business in the area and our name was known by quite a few of the locals, but we were all surprised when I came third in the by-election, beating one of the “main” political rivals into fourth place.

The next important thing to do was build a local branch, so a group of about 10 of us from around North London had a meeting in a pub to officially form a branch covering our borough and the adjacent one.

We had discovered that in 1999 the European elections from that point onwards were going to operate on a system of proportional representation. Suddenly, a small party had a chance. The campaigning and leafleting our little group had done now had paid dividends, and the party got its first three members elected to the European Parliament.

Now, 17 years after I joined that tiny little party, it has become a major force in British politics, getting the most votes in the UK, winning 24 seats in the European parliament and hundreds of Council seats up and down the country. There are now about 37,000 members (the 3rd biggest party in the UK having 44,000), and branches and local groups everywhere. The next thing is to take the party’s success forward into the 2015 General Election.

I’m footsore and weary from delivering thousands of leaflets, so taking a bit of a physical rest, but catching up on a few bits of writing I’d been meaning to do.

Now I can get back to working on my book.

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