This blog is the first in a series of guest contributions by Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) from across the UK political parties. The series will provide insight into the reasons why candidates decide to run for parliament and the challenges they face in their bid to win target seats. Cicero Elections is a neutral platform and all views in this series are that of the author.
I love Europe. I speak three European languages and have lived and worked in both Spain and France where I enjoyed both countries and their cultures. However, what I do not like is the undemocratic, corporatist EU; I believe it is a real danger to British democracy and, as a customs union (not a “common market”) with countless pieces of unnecessary regulation, it is detrimental to Britain’s ability to compete in a global market.
The tipping point for me was when David Cameron reneged on his “cast iron” guarantee of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; I could not just stand by and watch our democracy be given away to unelected Eurocrats. I subsequently successfully put myself through assessment centres, hustings and a national vote to gain fourth place on UKIP’s European Election list in the West Midlands for last year’s vote.
Following the European Elections, I put myself forward for a Westminster seat, and I’m extremely proud to have been selected by UKIP to stand in the Solihull Constituency. I am originally from Birmingham, but I have lived in Solihull since 1993 so the town is most definitely home to me.
As well as its approach to Europe, I also joined UKIP because of its commitment to grass-level democracy, e.g. local referenda to decide on local issues. Our political elite are far removed from the public now and UKIP offers a refreshing alternative. And this is how we, at UKIP Solihull and Meriden, will campaign for the local and general elections. We will seek to engage with people, not just shove a leaflet through their doors. Silhillians have real concerns; what is the future of our hospital? Can I get my son or daughter into the right local school? Is the Council being held to account over planning decisions?
We have had held successful “Meet the Candidates and Team” days in Solihull Town Centre where we have been able to listen to people’s genuine issues and explain UKIP’s policies. Not everyone has agreed with us, that is natural, but plenty have and a few have joined the party as a result. I believe in engaging directly with the voters; they are the people I need to listen to for they are the ones who will hold me to account should I be elected, not the party whips. We will also be holding a series of public meetings in the run-up to the election, again to listen to the concerns and opinions of voters and dispel myths about UKIP built up in certain sections of the media.
We also recognise the importance of social media; both the branch and I have Twitter and Facebook accounts which we use to highlight issues and advertise meetings to a wide section of the community. However, I believe that engaging face-to-face with the electorate is ultimately more powerful in the run-up to a General Election and hence my energies will be focused on meeting and listening to Silhillians up until 7th May. I am lucky to have a great team of volunteers behind me who, like me, are prepared to be out in all weathers distributing literature and talking to people in their homes and communities.
The election will be tough, as Solihull is a prized seat and there is no guarantee I will win, but what I can tell you is that the people of Solihull will definitely know that UKIP has given its best shot at winning the constituency.