Ukip hopeful wants to bring issues of immigration “centre stage” in mayoral election

Ukip mayoral candiate Peter Whittle

Ukip mayoral candiate Peter Whittle - Credit: Archant

Having grown up and lived in London for the majority of his life the Ukip candidate in the mayoral election this year wants to highlight key issues like immigration and give Londoners “a voice”.

Peter Whittle believes the ever increasing problem of a growing population needs to be “dragged centre stage” in the run up to May 5 when votes are cast.

“We have a real chronic housing crisis and we have the other candidates who refuse to acknowledge the main driver of that which is a radically increasing population,” Mr Whittle told the Recorder.

“London is increasing at a phenomenal rate by about a million people every decade, so it does not matter how much you say you will build, unless you deal with that situation and that level of immigration.”

However, the mayoral candidate does accept more housing is needed in the capital but with a system in place to ensure Londoners don’t miss out.

He said: “We have to prioritise brownfield sites, a third of all brownfield sites in the UK are in London and we should incentivise people to build on them.

“But more importantly, I believe we have to prioritise Londoners and people with a connection to the capital.

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“We feel people who have lived in London for a period of five or more years is a fair and reasonable amount to judge this by.”

Mr Whittle believes that outer London boroughs have been forgotten about by parliament and he is not afraid to stand up for the needs of places like Redbridge and Havering.

He said: “The whole culture and the way London has been looked at in the last 15 years has been through the eyes of Shoreditch and central London.

“There is definitely a warped idea of outer London without question.

“In this election, I have spoken about how to help struggling high streets which none of the other candidates have discussed as it is essentially an outer London phenomenon.

“The fact that many people in outer boroughs have shown a strong support to Ukip means our policies are obviously having a resonance with voters.

Mr Whittle believes that gaining votes from ethnic minorities as a Ukip candidate will not be a problem in the election race.

“In my experience, it has never been a problem. I have spoken to different voices from various backgrounds who share values that tend to be roughly the same,” he said.

“It is particularly the case among people with Commonwealth backgrounds and they are far more open to what you have to say than your average inner London media type.

“The media have always tried to press this point but it has slowed down as the mountain of evidence grows that we are not remotely prejudiced.

“We absolutely believe we should be a multi-ethnic society united with British values, British law and freedom of speech.”

The 55-year-old is happy with the party’s progress after being “nowhere” in 2012 - the last time London voted for a Mayor.

He wants to use the upcoming television and radio debates as a platform to get the party’s key messages across.

He said: “I want to give Londoners a voice in this election race and highlight issues like immigration which I know the other candidates won’t do.

“This election provides me with a unique opportunity to bring these issues to the forefront.”

Ukip’s culture spokesman is also proud to be the only LGBT candidate this year and supports gay marriage - despite some Ukip members in the past voicing their disapproval.

He said: “I have always been openly gay but I have always also had a view on the EU and migration - big deal.”

The Ukip candidate claims that never being an elected politician is an advantage in the race and his “tenacity and perseverance” are key characteristics he can bring to the role.

He said: “I want to represent London as it’s part of my character, it forms part of the way I look at the world.”