Friday, 5 March 2010

UKIP Set Sights High in Plymouth Sutton & Devonport

UKIP have identified Plymouth as their #1 target in the General Election as Andrew Leigh aims to become the party’s first Member of Parliament. It may seem like little more than a pipe dream for the anti-European Union party to secure a seat under the First-Past-The-Post electoral system but Leigh certainly feels he has much to be positive about.

“In Plymouth UKIP topped the poll in the European Elections last June so this is most definitely the platform from which we will win our first seats”, declares Leigh. “West Country people are traditionally ‘non-conformist’; loyal to the country but sceptical of the way the main parties conduct themselves.” In fact UKIP polled more votes than Labour and the Liberal Democrats put together in Plymouth last year which would suggest the main parties would be foolish to dismiss Leigh as irrelevant.

The UKIP Candidate also rejects the notion that his votes will come mainly from disaffected Conservatives:

“We will almost certainly gain more Labour than Conservative voters in this election and a very large number from the Liberal Democrats. Most traditional Labour voters are patriotic and highly suspicious of the EU.

“Many South West Liberal Democrat voters do not support the party’s fanatical enthusiasm for the EU and are now seeing a better place to register their protests. We are a centre ground, Libertarian party concerned that our democracy is being eroded by unelected, foreign lawmakers in Brussels”

With this year’s election set to throw up more than a few surprises UKIP are sure to give their more established opponents a headache in the coming months. Leigh’s biggest obstacle is the electoral system but he is confident he can persuade the people of Plymouth to vote positively in May. He states, “We believe that we can win the seat. I wouldn’t be putting in so much effort if I believed differently!”

With the expenses scandal fresh in people’s minds I’m sure Leigh will secure a significant proportion of the vote on Election Day. Turning Plymouth ‘pink’ is perhaps a step too far but big changes in British politics are certainly on the cards. Minor parties are increasingly adapting to the current electoral system by targeting a small number of seats and I for one will not be surprised if we see a few historic gains this year. So even without electoral reform, by the end of the decade we could see pockets of the country taken over by minor parties and the South West is primed for a UKIP advance. Andrew Leigh is hoping electorate of Plymouth Sutton & Devonport are already prepared to send shockwaves through British politics and return the first member of UKIP to Parliament.


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