Written in May, shortly after I spoke on Nigel Farage’s Common Sense Tour.
Loud, charismatic and unafraid of the truth. A genius, a whirlwind, capturing the audience and sweeping them up in the face of a new style of politics; honesty. Yes, this is Nigel Farage, and I had the great honour of opening the evening just one stop along his fast-paced Common Sense Tour in Holt, Norfolk. At seventeen, I spoke alongside a man who is fast becoming the most popular politician in Britain, advocating sincerity, pragmatism and common sense.
In April, I’d been asked to speak on behalf of young people in UKIP to raise awareness of the fact that we aren’t a myth, and to encourage more of my generation to get onboard. I chose to speak about the impact of legislative decisions on our futures, and the futures of those young people yet to come, which is an issue that most of us were blind to until a couple of years ago. I had to overcome my fear of public speaking and try not to make a fool of myself in front of over 200 people, when I used to struggle speaking out in a class of 30.
There was one thing that put my mind at rest, when I stood up to do my three minutes; it was the smiling man at the back of the hall in bright mustard trousers. I thought to myself; Nigel Farage, respected and feared MEP, is standing at the back of this hall. He’s an extremely important politician, and he’s keeping out of sight so that we, Stuart Agnew MEP, Councillor Michael Baker and I can do our bit, he’s watching and listening and actually caring about what we have to say. What other political leader does that?
So I spoke. My hands didn’t shake, I didn’t forget a large section of my speech and I even threw in a cheeky joke about the ‘bureaucratic nobodies of the EU’. I was inspired by the incredible man who, after we had spoken, charmed the audience to the point of rapturous laughter and applause, but still remained genuine and utterly down to earth.
It struck me that this is the kind of person Britain needs in politics. Someone who has experience in the world of work, not, as Mr Farage said, ‘school-boys’ who went straight from public school into Politics. Britain, and young people especially, need someone with whom they can identify, someone who doesn’t skate around issues but addresses them head on. In the current climate, avoidance can only make things worse and encourage political apathy in teenagers which has hit an all-time high; in 2010, only 44% of 18-24 year olds voted in the General Elections. This sharp increase in disillusionment amongst my generation can only end badly, and luckily UKIP are reengaging people under 30 with politics, evading the potential political disaster of rational or intentional ignorance. It seems that the voice given to us through UKIP makes young people less lost, unsure and uninformed, and really promotes politics amongst generation Y, who are, after all, the future.
As a teenager stepping into the tempestuous arena of politics, I could not have asked for a better opportunity. Nigel Farage is encouraging a revolution on the political stage; a move towards honest, direct policies, and simple common sense. All I can say is that I will forever be thankful for the opportunity I was given that night.