Ukip leadership hopeful Lisa Duffy is back in South Shields today for the first time since she masterminded the party’s by-election campaign three years ago.
Ms Duffy was the brains behind a campaign which saw the party’s North East organiser Richard Elvin finish second to Emma Lewell-Buck by just 6,505 votes.
The parliamentary by-election, in 2013, was triggered by former foreign secretary David Miliband’s resignation.
The Conservatives finished in third, but the Liberal Democrats were pushed down to seventh place, while Ms Lewell-Buck became the first female MP in South Shields.
Now Ms Duffy, who is a councillor in Cambridgeshire, is returning to the King Street shop, where the campaign was based, to meet up with fellow party members.
Mr Elvin said: “She masterminded practically all our successful by-elections across the country, including South Shields, Middlesbrough, Barnsley and Rotherham.
She was bombed by a seagull once and she was completely in awe of the seagulls in South Shields. She always talks about them wherever she goes as they were the biggest she’s ever seenRichard Elvin, Ukip North East organiser
“She has been a part of Ukip for many, many years now.
“We are having a little get-together of the old team for a coffee and talk about the good old days.
“She was bombed by a seagull once and she was completely in awe of the seagulls in South Shields. She always talks about them wherever she goes as they were the biggest she’s ever seen.”
The visit comes in a week where Ms Duffy rejected comparisons with Donald Trump and suggestions she is attacking a single minority after calling for Muslim veils to be banned in public places.
She said, during a speech in London, that she wanted to deal with people’s fears about Islam by creating a ‘well-rounded community’ with ‘one rule for all’ by banning the veil in public buildings, shopping centres and on buses and trains.
Ms Duffy – who is backed by high-profile former Ukip spokeswoman Suzanne Evans – rejected a rival’s suggestions that she was “chasing the bigot vote” and denied her rhetoric could fuel hate crime.
She also demanded the closure of Islamic faith schools until the problem of Islamist terrorism is dealt with, as well as a “complete and comprehensive ban” on sharia courts in the UK, warning of ‘parallel systems’ and ‘separatism’.
Ms Duffy claimed a ban on veils would work similarly to asking teenagers to remove hoods or motorcyclists to take off their helmets when in certain public places.