UKIP is yet to select a candidate for the Newark by-election following the news that Tory Patrick Mercer would be standing down following a lobbying investigation.
While Nigel Farage has ruled himself out, the party has a number of other activists and members gaining in popularity and public profile – one of those candidates is Pakistani businessman Amjad Bashir.
Bashir is a former Tory of 15 years who has staunchly defended the party against claims of racism, as well as establishing a serious platform as UKIP’s small and medium business spokesman. He owns two restaurants in Manchester and Bradford respectively, and famously remarked during his UKIP conference speech in 2013, “I wasn’t born in Yorkshire, but I came as soon as I could”.
“I was drawn to UKIP by the pledge to cut EU bureaucracy and red tape. As a businessman I have seen so many roads blocked to expansion because of the rules and regulations,” he has said.
Bashir represents everything UKIP stands for, and was doing so well before his defection from the Conservative Party.
“Integration [when his family came to Britain] was not something that was debated, postulated over and pussyfooted around like it is today. The family had no choice by to assimilate,” he said to rapturous applause at UKIP’s conference last year.
Bashir lists working time regulations, the climate change act, energy performance certificates, the temporary agency workers directive, and vehicle excise duty and issues that concerns him about the growing state and the growing European Union. In other words, he knows his stuff.
His experience, background and principles make him a perfect candidate for UKIP in Newark, a seat that despite having a 16,000 Tory majority, has found itself in circumstances that “provide the ingredients needed for an upset,” according to The Times.
Bashir has fearlessly called Lord Heseltine a “has been politician”, and confronted the Times newspaper live on BBC stating that the mainstream media was “doing no good service to this country”.
If UKIP wants to make a lasting impression with Newark, it needs to display strength in depth, and that is exactly what someone like Amjad Bashir will prove.