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Ukip's Essex hit list
The anti-EU, anti-immigration party is buoyed after gaining more than a third of the vote in local elections in May.
Party chiefs are now ready to target both seats in the 2015 general election.
Ukip’s east of England chairman James Moyies, from Shoebury, said: “We are doing well across south Essex, but in Castle Point and Rayleigh, and Wickford we had really good results in the local elections this year.
“The main two parties say if you vote Ukip you get the other party. But now if you vote Ukip, you get Ukip.”
The party won Thundersley and South Benfleet seats from the Tories in the county council elections in May.
It gained 62 more votes than the Tories across the five divisions that make up the Castle Point parliamentary constituency, gaining 33.7 per cent of the vote in total.
The party also gained Rayleigh South from the Tories, achieving 29 per cent of the vote across the five divisions which roughly match the Rayleigh and Wickford parliamentary constituency, with just 1,011 fewer votes than the Conservatives.
Voting suggests Ukip has the best chance of toppling Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris, but Mr Moyies, who finished second to the Tories in the West Shoebury ward of Southend Council in 2011, believes Rayleigh and Wickford residents better fit Ukip’s core voter profile.
Disgraced former Tory MP Neil Hamilton, recently unveiled as Ukip’s vice chairman and election co-ordinator, has revealed the seat held by MP Mark Francois, is on the party’s hit list.
Mr Moyies said: “The people who vote for us, if we look at polling, are generally aged over 50, aren’t necessarily Conservatives, but voted for Thatcher. It’s working class aspirational voters–the Essex Man.”
Jamie Huntman, who won Thundersley for Ukip in May and who wants to run against Rebecca Harris in 2015, said: “I would be interested in standing and I have put my name in the running.”
Mr Francois isn’t unduly worried. He said: “I don’t believe in taking any election for granted, but predicting results from local elections, when the turnout is totally different, isn’t always a reliable guide.
“However, when the time comes I will stand on my record as a hard-working local MP and, moreover, I don’t believe my constituents would want to risk a Labour Government, which would throw away all the hardearned progress of the past few years.”
Mrs Harris was unavailable for comment
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