She’s been dubbed England’s answer to Americas’s controversial White House candidate Donald Trump for her views on the burka.
But Lisa Duffy, who is vying to take the helm of UKIP, following Nigel Farage’s resignation last month, says she’s not quite as extreme, or as rich, as the outspoken Republican presidential nominee.
Mrs Duffy was the brains behind the 2013 by-election campaign which saw the party’s North East organiser Richard Elvin finish second to Emma Lewell-Buck by 6,505 votes to become South Shields MP.
The parliamentary by-election was triggered by former Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s resignation
However, the Cambridge councillor became so fond of the town she decided to revisit King Street yesterday, along with Mr Elvin, as part of her current campaign trail.
Mrs Duffy has been in the news this week for her views on burkas, wanting a ban in public places, so faces can be seen at all times.
It’s not a bigoted view
She said: “I like to be able to read people’s facial expressions, you know where you stand.
“I want burkas to be banned in all places where people also have to remove their hoods or motorcycle helmets.
“I don’t have any issues with a head scarf, or a hijab, I just like to see people’s faces.
“It’s not a bigoted view, the whole part of my speech was to promote fairness, equality and opportunity for all, I have simply started the conversation.
“I want the same rules to apply to everyone. If a person wearing a hoodie has to take their hood down, then a burka should also have to be removed.”
Mrs Duffy in particular wants young Muslim women in Britain to feel as British as she did growing up.
In particular she wants to see an end to female genital mutilation, honour killings, forced marriages and Sharia Law.
She said: “I want them to feel they belong to our communities, but these things do not fit in with British life.
“I want them to have the same opportunities as my 16-year-old daughter.”
When asked about what it feels like to be compared to Donald Trump, Mrs Duffy laughed and said: “I wish I had his money.
“But no, I’m not like him, he wants to ban them all from America.
“They belong here, many were born here, where would I be sending them off to? It’s quite ridiculous.”
Mrs Duffy said returning to South Shields brought back memories of hitting the campaign trail in 2013.
She added: “I love South Shields, the people here are so warm and welcoming, we had such a wonderful time here.
“The thing which really sticks in my mind is the seagulls, I’ve been telling the rest of my team about them. I watched one swoop down on a child in a pram and pinch their food, they’re incredible.”
Mrs Duffy is up against UKIP MEPs Jonathan Arnott, who represents the North East, Bill Etheridge and Diane James, as well as national executive committee member Liz Jones and former parliamentary candidate Phillip Broughton.
The winning candidate will be announced at UKIP’s annual conference in Bournemouth on September 15.
IT’S NOT ‘US VERSUS THEM’ SAYS SOUTH TYNESIDE MUSLIM LEADER
“Stop deliberately segregating Muslims from the rest of the community” says a South Tyneside campaigner.
Lalon Amin, chairman of the Refugee Aid Network says Lisa Duffy’s reference to the town’s Muslim community as ‘them’ does nothing to promote equality.
Mr Amin from Lawe Top, South Shields also believes there’s a massive misconception that Muslim women need to be ‘set free’.
He said: “She talks about community and belonging yet she refers to the Muslim community as ‘them’.
“In South Shields we don’t see it as a case of ‘us verses them’, we all class ourselves as Sandancers who just happen to have a religious belief.
“To have a happy multicultural society then you have to respect different beliefs and cultures and she’s not, she’s trying to impose her way of life onto others.
“Stop deliberately segregating Muslims from the rest of the community.
“The burka isn’t that common in Shields, yes a few women to chose to wear it, but that’s their choice, they have decided that’s what they want to do, it’s not being forced upon them.
“Mrs Duffy seems so keen to ban this in public, but can I ask when was the last time a law abiding Muslim woman wearing a burka was in trouble or committed a crime?”
Mr Amin also believes it’s wrong that an impression is being created that young Muslim girls aren’t being given the same chances as non-Muslims.
He said: “Many Ofsted reports are showing that BME (black and minority ethnic) girls are at the top end of their studies and going on to achieve degrees at university.
“They don’t need saving, there seems to be this misconception that they need to be set free and it’s very strange, especially for here in Shields.
“There’s this right wing anti-Muslim sentiment that some people seem to be supporting and it’s not welcome here in South Shields.”