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|Chairman||Nathan Ryding |
|Deputy Chairman||Reece Coombes|
The wing was formed during the 2007 annual UKIP conference by the then National Executive Committee member Delroy Young. YI was formed to encompass all UKIP members aged thirty-five and under, but is now for those under the age of thirty as the total number of young people in UKIP has grown. A referendum was held during May 2015 to see if the upper age should be lowered from 30 to 25, but this was rejected by 74.2% to 25.8%. With increasing membership, YI started to move towards forming student organisations. However, it faced heavy opposition from the National Union of Students. Since then, UKIP Students has separated from YI and the two are independent of one another, though do cooperate very closely.
Joseph Jenkins chairmanship
On 1 June 2015, Joseph Jenkins was declared the new Young Independence Chairman, with a landslide victory over Jake Painter. Jenkins sought to reform and restructure YI, whilst getting it ready for the EU Referendum, urging members to have a "strong, united voice.". Previously, Jenkins had been YI Universities Officer, going on to form UKIP Students and the month before, he had stood against Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam during 2015 general election (UK), gaining 3,575 votes.
Jenkins oversaw the YI Campaigns in the 2016 London Assembly election, the 2016 Welsh Assembly election and the EU Referendum, whilst working for UKIP, before stepping down at the end of his first year.
Jamie Ross-McKenzie chairmanship
On 18 July 2016, Jamie Ross McKenzie and Edward Sumner were elected as the National YI Chairman and Deputy. McKenzie (who had served as deputy to Joseph Jenkins the previous year) and Sumner received 298 votes, leaving them with a majority of 178 votes over their opponents, Daniel Evans and Jack Smith who received 120 votes. However, on 31 August that year, Sumner left UKIP and joined the Conservative Party. McKenzie then appointed Katie Fanning as his new Deputy..
During his 13-month chairmanship, McKenizie served under four different UKIP leaders (Farage, James, Nuttall and Crowther) and while Young Independence membership levels remained comparatively strong, UKIP's vote share collapsed during the 2017 general election. The general election was followed by a long leadership campaign, in which McKenzie (along with a large majority of Young Independence) supported the unsuccessful candidate John Rees-Evans. Towards the end of the leadership campaign, the Young Independence Conference was cancelled after members leaked details to the local anti-fascist network. This led to the Young Independence Council being temporarily disbanded, suddenly ending McKenzie's time in office.
Nathan Ryding chairmanship
At the YI fringe event at UKIP National Conference on 30 September, the party's newly-elected leader, Henry Bolton, announced that he would be appointing the individual who YI elected as its new Chairman as the party's Youth Affairs Spokesperson.
On 9 December 2017, Nathan Ryding and Reece Coombes were announced as the newly-elected Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively of YI. The pair received 35 votes, leaving them with a majority of only one vote over their opponents, Jonathan Wood and William Donnelly, in an election that had the worst turnout of any Chairmanship election in the organisation's history.
Their campaign, dubbed "#YiRevival", started with lots of momentum and support from all factions within the party and focussed broadly on giving power to the YI membership, working more closely with the UKIP grassroots members and on keeping all elected positions unpaid, which was a key point raised both in the chairman's and deputy's debates. These policies, among others, were listed in their manifesto.
The two Kipper Central debates played a key part in the campaign and were widely seen as the point at which Ryding's campaign was seen to be losing traction. In the first of the two debates, on 1 December, Coombes debated with Donnelly as the two candidates for Deputy Chairman. They debated a range of policies, including payment of elected YI officers, direct democracy within YI, whether certain officers should be elected or appointed and a number of other policies. In the second debate, which was scheduled to be between the two Chairman candidates - Ryding and Wood - Ryding claimed to be experiencing technical issues so Coombes had to fill in for him. Similar issues to the previous debate were raised, though they were discussed in more detail due to the increased length of the debate. Wood invited Ryding to reorganise a debate on several occasions, but all proposals were rejected, leading to YI members calling for Ryding to drop out of the race. MBGA News held a debate in which Ryding was empty-chaired.
Ryding, aged 19 at the time of election, was the YI Events Officer under Jamie Ross-McKenzie's chairmanship and is the current UKIP Wigan Branch Chairman. Coombes, aged 16 at the time of the election, is the owner and founder of the prominent UKIP blog Kipper Central and was formerly the YI South West Regional Chairman.
Time in office
Shortly after the election result was announced, Ryding and Coombes published a joint victory statement where they announced Jonathan Wood (Ryding's opponent in the election of chairman) as the interim YI treasurer and George Pykov as the interim YI secretary.
Within a week of being elected, Ryding argued that the culture of political correctness in the UK was preventing the country from ending the gang rape of young girls and wrote an article for Kipper Central in which he argued that the UK's education system was "shutting down" free speech to "suit the EU".
On 6 January, Ryding called a "crisis period" following what he described as an "unproductive, dismissive and negative" meeting with the UKIP leader Henry Bolton. Ryding then formed a "crisis coalition" which included some of his most vocal critics.
On 19 January, Young Independence held a vote of no confidence in Bolton, which passed with 76% of members in favour. On the result, Ryding commented, "This vote clearly shows that the membership of Young Independence feels that Henry Bolton is no longer the right individual to lead UKIP."
Young Independence is run by an Executive Council of elected members. The Executive Council consists of a Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, Events Officer and Media Officer. In addition, there is a National Council which consists of the Executive Council, Regional Chairmen (elected by the membership to oversee its county or regional affairs) and the UKIP Students Chairman.
Young Independence is led by the National Chairman, Nathan Ryding, who was elected in December 2017 with 50.72% of the vote, succeeding Jamie Ross-Mckenzie.
In April 2014, the National Union of Students passed a motion at its National Conference to officially oppose UKIP. In response, on 1 August, UKIP's universities officer, Joseph Jenkins, announced the formation of UKIP Students, a branch of Young Independence dedicated to expanding UKIP's presence in universities, colleges and schools. UKIP Students has its own committee.
In 2013, the YI chairman Olly Neville was fired by the party, reportedly for supporting same-sex marriage. YI's treasurer Allrik Birch, election officer Gareth Shanks, Yorkshire chairman Arnie Craven, and the Yorkshire deputy chairwoman Christina Annesley resigned in protest. Other party members have come out in support of same-sex marriage, however, such as the chairman and prospective Parliamentary candidate in Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Nathan Garbutt, questioning whether Neville really was removed for supporting the issue at hand: "if he had been removed for favouring gay marriage, the question stands; ‘Why have I not been removed too?’".
Another incident came a few days later when the YI Northwest chairman and prospective Parliamentary candidate for Chester Richard Lowe was 'forced to quit' because of a lack of confidence from the branch over his support for same-sex marriage and other views that 'clashed with UKIP policy'.
During the first UKIP leadership election in 2016, YI members were accused of body shaming and attacking one of the candidates, Lisa Duffy. The attacks supposedly took place in the YI Faculty Facebook group, a closed group for members. This group was shut down after Huffington Post revealed alleged racism and homophobic attacks also occurring on the page.
On 1 September 2017, Hilton Sheffield cancelled the venue booking for the Young Independence annual conference citing "heightened safety and security risks" a day before the conference was due to be held. This came about after pressure from city councillors over the announced speaker, Martin Sellner, leader of the anti-migrant Defend Europe, who was due to speak at the event. Young Independence said in a statement that Hilton had stopped the event following threatening emails to staff sent by Stand up to Racism. It was later theorised that the information regarding the conference was actually leaked to Unite Against Fascism by a member of the Young Independence Council, who was helping to organise the conference. The identity of the individual is still unclear.
On 4 January 2018, following the news of UKIP leader Henry Bolton's affair with Jo Marney, a 25 year old model, Young Independence was forced to remove and apologise for tweets that they sent congratulating Bolton on "getting amongst the Youth Wing" and praised media outlets for giving Young Independence members media coverage. YI chairman, Nathan Ryding, took heavy criticism from Young Independence and UKIP members for the tweets but insisted that the tweets were not sent by him or any member of the Young Independence Council.
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