‘We’re the only challenge to Labour’: UKIP’s Suzanne Evans reveals party’s desire to increase South West London support

UKIP’s deputy chairman, and former Merton councillor, claims the party can build on its Rochester and Strood by-election success and increase its South West London support.

Suzanne Evans, a former Conservative councillor who defected to UKIP in May last year, spoke to SW Londoner after Mark Reckless became the party’s second MP last week.

Ms Evans, who is now the party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for Shrewsbury and Atcham in Shropshire, said the result showed people were starting to take UKIP seriously.

“UKIP is a very new phenomenon to South West London. There is no existing infrastructure so we are starting from scratch,” Ms Evans told SW Londoner.

“I think we need to grow incrementally.

“I don’t think UKIP is going to take South West London by storm this time around, but it is a question of working hard locally, getting those council seats and by 2020 it may be a very different story.”

“It’s a question of working hard locally, getting those council seats and by 2020 it may be a very different story.”

UKIP has struggled recently in the area, with the party failing to gain a single councillor in the boroughs of Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth in May’s local elections.

Yet Ms Evans said the party is now recruiting supporters from traditional Labour strongholds.

“What we are finding in South West London is that we are getting a lot of traction among Labour voters and not so much among Conservative voters,” said Ms Evans.

“Certainly in Mitcham and Morden we are the only challenger to Labour.”

She also said the party was looking to recruit voters from constituencies such as Sutton and Cheam and Carshalton and Wallington, which have both been held by the Liberal Democrats since 1997.

Bruce Machan, UKIP’s PPC in Streatham, said the result was an indication of the party’s growing popularity across the country.

“Having been in Rochester and Strood campaigning the last few weeks, it has become apparent that UKIP is now the party of the British worker,” said Mr Machan.

“I look forward to the campaign in Streatham over the coming months.

“It is apparent that London Labour Parliamentarians are far removed from the people that used to vote for them and champagne socialism is no longer cutting it with the voter.”

“Champagne socialism is no longer cutting it with the voter.”

UKIP secured victory in Rochester and Strood with almost 3,000 more votes than the Conservatives in what turned out to be a closer contest than many expected.

James Bellis, the Conservative PPC for Vauxhall, said that while the result was disappointing his party’s focus remained on the general election next May.

“Between now and the election all parties need to work hard to gain voters’ trust and in Vauxhall, I am doing just that,” said Mr Bellis.

“The general election will come down to a choice between continuing economic recovery with the Conservatives or turning the clock back to more debt and higher taxes under Ed Miliband.

“The Conservatives have a clear set of answers to the challenges our country faces and I look forward to taking the message out in Vauxhall.”

Image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks

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