Thursday, 10 January 2013
EXCLUSIVE: Harry Aldridge says 'the Party leadership lost confidence in Olly'.
In an exclusive interview with theblueguerilla, former Young Independence (YI) Chairman, Harry Aldridge, give us his thoughts on #OllyShambles and why he thinks UKIP Party bosses sacked his replacement as UKIP Youth Chairman, Olly Neville.
Aldridge also tells tbg about his love for Coca-Cola, why UKIP is more Tory than the Tories and his intentions regards the vacancy for the top job at YI.
What was for breakfast this morning?
"Breakfast? This morning I rushed out the door without even a cup of tea!"
What are your views on same-sex marriage?
"I believe, as does UKIP actually, in equality under the law for same sex couples. The party opposition to same sex marriage is largely on two grounds, namely that there is potential for an ECHR court challenge to compel churches, mosques, etc, to conduct same sex marriages - this is a legitimate concern albeit this is a judgement call as to the likelihood of such an outcome - and secondly that the term "marriage" has religious meaning defining union of man and woman, and that to meddle with this infringes on the faith of a great many people.
"The party concludes therefore that civil partnerships have achieved equality under the law without causing any potential conflict with people of faith nor churches.
"Personally, if there was zero risk of a court ruling compelling churches to conduct ceremonies, then I would support civil same sex marriage. I do not agree that the word "marriage" has an inflexible definition, nor that the use of it by same sex couples in any way diminishes the value of the word for opposite-sex couples or people of faith."
As an active UKIP member and former YI Chairman, in your opinion, why was Olly Neville removed as YI Chairman and do you agree with this decision?
"There seems to be some confusion over this. The decision was taken ultimately after the party leadership lost confidence in Olly to responsibly represent the party following a series of incidents. It was not as a result of his stance on gay marriage, per se. Indeed we have many gay people in UKIP and an LGBTQ* group who have spoken on the issue, and they have not been removed or disciplined.
"It is a shame. Olly is a personal friend and well liked inside and outside the party, as evidenced by the outpouring of support for him on twitter from people across the political spectrum. However as an office holder, especially Chairman of Young Independence, you wear two hats and everything you say represents the party just as much as it represents yourself.
"We do as a party allow members enormous freedom to express personal opinions (some might say too much freedom in instances), however the party obviously felt that there was misrepresentation of party policy and political ineptitude. I don't personally think the Radio 4 WATO interview was in any way damaging to the party, and indeed other party members and candidates have said far more damaging things."
Do you think that after #OllyShambles UKIP may have itself stopped the defections of more (younger) Tories?
"Oh undoubtedly, at least temporarily. It is a bump in the road for sure. The move was perceived as an authoritarian move as well as a lurch to the [socially conservative] right. The latter is not the case, but nonetheless it has annoyed and upset many people in YI and in the wider political space. We have lost a few YI members as a result, and some waverers have now gone elsewhere.
"However we were attracting young members in good numbers before, and we will continue to do so in the future as this episode passes. The fundamental map of British politics has not changed from last week to this week. It's a set-back but not, or at least I hope not and believe not, a fatal blow."
What's your favourite fizzy-pop beverage?
"Boring, but has to be Coke. Though preferably with something alcoholic in it."
You rejected Ben Howlett's call for young UKIP'ers to join Conservative Future, why?
"Well, it assumes all UKIP'ers are 'Tories in exile', which is not the case. I've never been a Conservative member, never voted Conservative, and have no intention of doing so. I joined UKIP because it had the balls to stand up and campaign for EU withdrawal, low flat taxes, a smaller state, education vouchers, personal responsibility - opposing the nanny state, dissent on climate change, and in other ways suggest a remodeling of government and public services.
"The Conservative party equivocate on the EU and have a leader and senior figures who repeatedly state support for continued EU membership. They think it is acceptable to bring in minimum alcohol pricing, force cigarettes behind screens and below counters in supermarkets, and the party does not articulate a vision for a smaller state or more personal responsibility."
Do you want to be Chairman of the YI again?
"Not especially. I mean, I loved my stint and it was a privilege. We made solid progress, establishing university societies, trebling our membership, building relations with think tanks and other political organisations, and in presenting I think an exciting home for young libertarians/conservatives. However I stood down due to time commitments and because now at 26 years old I am at the upper end of our membership.
"So i don't see a comeback on the cards. We have many good people who are younger and have more time to take YI forward. Although I will always be an active member and help wherever I can."
You can follow Harry on Twitter: @HarryAldridge
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