UKIP’s Andrew says he can win

UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for East Devon, Andrew Chapman

UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for East Devon, Andrew Chapman - Credit: Archant

Andrew Chapman, UKIP’s parliamentary-hopeful, believes he has a real chance to unseat East Devon Tory MP Hugo Swire in May’s General Election.

In his first media interview, Andrew Chapman, 68, told the Journal and Herald he would not be standing if he did not think he could win.

At the last election, Mr Swire received 25,662 votes compared to UKIP’s 4,346.

But over the last year the wind has changed direction - Mr Chapman’s candidature follows the European election earlier this year, when UKIP won more votes

in East Devon than the Conservatives, writes David Beasley.

Mr Chapman joins an increasing line-up of parliamentary candidates contesting the seat.

Steve Race has thrown her hat into the ring for Labour, while Claire Wright is standing as an independent.

Most Read

The Lib Dems, who normally come second in the constituency and polled a third of

the vote in 2010, have selected Stuart Mole.

Mr Chapman said: “I would not have spent a third of my modest pension pot on being elected if I had no chance at all.”

Recently retired, Mr Chapman, a graduate of Goldsmiths’ College, London, was a schoolteacher and salesman before building Guitar Workshops, his own music teaching and performing business in Surrey.

In 1987, his business folded and he believes that this experience of

‘real life’ sets him apart from most Westminster politicians.“Blair and

Cameron have done nothing in their lives other than be in power,” he said. “They haven’t got a handle on what real people think and what their problems are.

“Few people in politics have done anything else other than politics, so

I do feel I have something to contribute.

“In that first winter after my business folded, I experienced what it was like to be cold and hungry.”

He was elected to Surrey County Council as Lib Dem in the late 1980s and, in 1990, moved to Shropshire and qualified as an accountant.

There, he set up his second business, Staff Accounting, until 2011.

“This election has to be fought on issues. I get fed up with personality politics,” he said.

“The job of an elected representative is to speak to people, listen and take on board people’s views.

“To that extent, I don’t believe Hugo Swire is a good elected representative.”

He says he wants to stand up for what is right and not what is popular. “Politics is about dividing up a limited pot fairly,” he said.

“We have to look at how we can adjust the balance of the way the resources are divided, which at the moment is tipped in favour of older people against younger people who have yet to find a sustainable place in their community.”

Married to Amy, he still plays a full season of cricket, is a keen bellringer, musician and was chairman of his local drama society in Shropshire.

He believes that helping small businesses is the key to Britain’s

future.“The option to obtain capital to start up is not available to young people the way it was 20 years ago.

“If UKIP can find a way to help people obtain what they need to set themselves up, with the expectation they will yield an economic return, that is going to be a prize that will win UKIP the election.”

He has framed the election in terms of those who are against the EU and those who are for it. “People will have to decide if they want to part of the ideology of the EU, its directives and edicts, or if they want their sovereignty back.

“I think there will be enough disaffected Tories to give me a real chance.”