Could UKIP cause a political upset in South Tyneside?

poster boy ... Nigel Farage at the launch of UKIP's new poster campaign.
poster boy ... Nigel Farage at the launch of UKIP's new poster campaign.

NIGEL Farage’s UK Independence Party could be gaining enough support to cause a political upset in South Tyneside next month, according to a Gazette straw poll.

The majority of people we approached in South Shields town centre support the party’s aim of taking Britain out of the European Union.

Concern over immigration levels were expressed amid a general apathy towards the three established political parties.

That could prove positive for UKIP as it prepares to field 16 candidates in the 18 wards up for grabs in the borough on Thursday, May 22.

Retired builder Tommy Coates, 76, of Marsden, believes levels of immigration into the UK are a burning issue of the day. He said: “There are just too many people coming into this country, and I think it’s a big concern for most people.

“I tend to vote on what a party has to offer, even though generally I think most politicians are only looking out for themselves.

“The big local issue in Shields is the town centre. It’s like a ghost town here.

“Based on its immigration policy, I can see the attraction of UKIP.”

Retired Reyrolle worker Tony Race, 81, of Cleadon Village, believes UKIP will benefit from “not being an established party”.

He said: “South Tyneside is a one-party state, and I’m not sure that will change.

“I’m not a party animal. I tend to vote for the party that will do the least harm.

“UKIP is not an established party. It is something different. That is what makes it attractive.”

Retired Hebburn plasterer Joe Cragg, 64, said: “Immigration is a big issue in large parts of the country. I worked for a long time in Halifax, and the levels of immigrants there are unbelievable. UKIP taps into those concerns.”

Shopper Pat Laycock, 72, up from Leeds to visit her daughter in South Shields, said: “I believe that everyone should use their vote, and immigration is a big issue where I live. At least UKIP is addressing it.”

Jen English, 67, formerly a barmaid at the Simonside Arms in South Shields for 27 years, said: “Immigration is an issue nationally, but things like potholes are important at a local level.

“I’m a lifelong Labour supporter, and I will not be changing.

“I feel strongly that people should use their vote. They can’t complain if they don’t.”

Healthcare worker Alan Normandale, 65, admitted he has never voted in local elections.

He said: “I might vote in a general election, but at local level, I don’t think it makes any difference who is in power.

“I won’t be voting.”