Meet the UKIP candidates hoping to change UK politics

There have been numerous studies and articles analysing the demographics of UKIP voters in the last few months, but virtually nothing has been written about the actual UKIP candidates who are hoping to change UK politics at the 2015 General Election. Looking at the 50 seats which are most talked about, identified as being possible targets or considered the most ‘UKIP friendly’, 38* of these UKIP Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) have so far been selected to fight for a Westminster seat.
Top UKIP candidates (

38 top UKIP parliamentary candidates (names and constituencies listed below)

These thirty-eight UKIP candidates are mostly male, exclusively white** and overwhelmingly middle-aged. They are highly likely to have either been born in the constituency or lived and worked in the local region, suggesting that very few have been parachuted in by the national party (an accusation regularly levelled at Labour and the Conservatives).  None of the candidates attended Oxbridge and as a group they are far less likely to have attended university or further education than top candidates from other parties.

Matthew Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) and Rob Ford (@robfordmancs), the authors of ‘Revolt on the Right’ and leading commentators on UKIP, have revealed that UKIP voters are almost as sceptical about big business as Labour voters. The background of these UKIP candidates tends to echo that sentiment. The vast majority have worked in the private sector, particularly in small and entrepreneurial businesses. The larger companies that they have worked for tend to be utilities or involved in heavy industry. Nearly a quarter of the candidates have served in the armed forces.  In keeping with UKIP’s political outlook, these candidates could generally not be classified as being members of the London metropolitan elite with less than a third having worked in London.

They are certainly not new to politics though. Seven are current MEPs, nearly half have stood for Westminster seats before and around half have served as councillors. A third of them have worked directly in politics either as an MEP themselves or supporting a UKIP MEP. This is a group of committed political activists who having had earlier careers have more recently turned to politics.

There is already some evidence to suggest these characteristics will begin to change in future elections. The five youngest candidates, those in their 20s and 30s, have all worked in politics, as an MEP, an adviser, a full-time councillor or as a political activist with a think-tank or other campaign group. Will the next generation of UKIP candidates seeking election to Westminster continue to be so different from those of other parties?

Below are the details:

6 of the 38 UKIP candidates are women (15%) – amongst those candidates most likely to win (targets and retirement seats) this compares to 58% for Labour, 30% for the Conservatives and 38% for the Liberal Democrats. Across all selected candidates, the figures are 35% for Labour, 24% for the Conservatives, 26% for the Lib Dems and around 10% for UKIP.

None of the included UKIP candidates have a BME background”. (** According to a recent statement on twitter by Tim Aker, his father is from Turkey. Whether he considers himself to be from a BME background as a result is not known).

75% of the UKIP candidates are over 50 (42% over 60). The full figures are 8% (3 candidates) are in their 20s, 6% (2) in their 30s, 11% (4) in their 40s, 33% (12) in their 50s, 36% (13) in their 60s and 6% (2) in their 70s. One candidate is unconfirmed as being in their 40s and one in the 70s (not included in the percentage totals above).

6 of the 38 UKIP candidates were born in the constituency they are seeking to represent and 35 have lived or worked in the region of their constituency.

30% (11) did not attend university or higher education with a further 17% who probably did not attend (this group has not been confirmed). Attendance at university is significantly lower than for other parties.

87% (33 out of 38) have worked in the private sector, higher than any other party (84% of winnable Conservatives, 52% of Labour and 38% of Liberal Democrats). Many have worked in small and medium sized businesses, many of which they founded, rather than in larger corporations, although many have worked for both, particularly before they set up their own business or businesses. Less than a third appear to have worked in London during their working lives (11 as far as can be determined).

23% (9) have served in the armed forces (much higher than the 8% average across all parties, 8% Conservatives and 3% Labour) – six in the British Army, one in the RAF, one very briefly as a Royal Navy Cadet and one in the Rhodesian army. Noticeably only one has worked in communications/lobbying – compared to 19% across the board for each other major party.

Many have worked in heavy or more traditional industries: a joiner and building surveyor, a draughtsman, a construction manager, several farmers and estate managers, a timber merchant, a foundry manager, a cable engineer, an oil refinery supervisor and two mechanical engineers in the steel industry.

They include a music shop owner (and entertainer), a local department store owner, a showroom manager, a gymnastics coach and an equine physiotherapist. There are three lawyers (including two barristers) and a couple of IT consultants. One is the grandson of an Earl.

Whilst most have focused on the private sector, several have worked in the public sector: a social worker and FE/HE lecturer, a sixth form college teacher, police force administrator, a paramedic, an educational psychologist, a fireman and lifeboat crew member and a civil servant with Customs & Excise and the Crown Prosecution Service.

They are however committed political activists comparable with the other parties. Seven are current MEPs (five were elected at the 2014 European elections for the first time). 47% (18) have stood for Parliament previously (on one or more occasions), including 11 fighting the same seat for a second time. This compares to 31% across other major parties. Several have also stood unsuccessfully for election to the European Parliament or as a Police & Crime Commissioner. Several are now working for one of UKIP’s

54% of the UKIP candidates have been a councillor comparable to winnable candidates from the other parties with a 52% average. Only 15% are apparently new to politics (not having been an MEP, councillor, fought an election or having worked in politics) compared to 11% for winnable Labour candidates, 25% for Conservatives and 13% for Liberal Democrats.

At least four are former members of the Conservative Party (one of these stood for the Conservatives in 2010 and one is the former Conservative leader in Camden Council) and there is one former Labour activist. There is also the former Treasurer of The Pensioners Party. Oh and there is someone called Nigel Farage.

Top UKIP candidates (

Guide to the 38 candidates

Top row

  • Chris Adams, Aylesbury
  • Stuart Agnew MEP, Broadland
  • Tim Aker MEP, Thurrock
  • Janice Atkinson MEP, Folkestone & Hythe
  • Victoria Ayling, Great Grimsby
  • Michael Baker, Norfolk North
  • Geoffrey Bastin, Bexhill & Battle
  • Richard Coke, Norfolk North West
  • Jane Collins MEP, Rotherham
  • Allen Cowles, Rother Valley

2nd row

  • Patricia Culligan, Eastleigh
  • Bill Etheridge MEP, Dudley North
  • Nigel Farage MEP, Thanet South
  • Ray Finch MEP, Lewes
  • Mike FitzGerald, Portsmouth North
  • Mike Glennon, Worthing East & Shoreham
  • Alan Grey, Great Yarmouth
  • Stephen Harness, Cleethorpes
  • Barry Hodgson, Wolverhampton South East
  • Robin Hunter-Clarke, Boston & Skegness

3rd row

  • Jamie Huntman, Castle Point
  • Graham Jones, Bognor Regis & Littlehampton
  • Colin Mair, Louth & Horncastle
  • Penny Mills, Plymouth Moor View
  • Andrew Moncrieff, Chichester
  • Brian Otridge, South West
  • Richard Palmer, Sittingbourne & Sheppey
  • John Perry, Havant
  • Peter Reeve, Cambridgeshire North West
  • Phil Rowe, Dudley South

Bottom row

  • Robert Smith, Camborne & Redruth
  • Steve Stanbury, Forest of Dean
  • Simon Tobin, Waveney
  • Caven Vines, Wentworth & Dearne
  • Ann Marie Waters, Basildon & Billericay
  • Piers Wauchope, Thanet North
  • Grahame Wiggin, Cannock Chase
  • Chris Wood, Gosport

Notional top 50 seats still to select a candidate (11)

  • Amber Valley
  • Basildon South & Thurrock East
  • Brigg & Goole
  • Bury North
  • Cambridgeshire North East
  • Harwich & Essex North
  • Penistone & Stocksbridge
  • Portsmouth South
  • Rayleigh & Wickford
  • South Holland & The Deepings
  • Yorkshire East

* Amended: Paul Smyth was selected as the UKIP PPC for Norfolk South West at the weekend (EDP24) and so is not included in this analysis – but his background conforms entirely to the trends identified above.

Update: Paragraph on BME background amended.


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