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INTERVIEW: UKIP Deputy Chairman Suzanne Evans Says ‘Bring it On’, Wants Mayoral AND Assembly Member Candidacy

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UKIP’s mayoral candidate for the 2016 elections will be selected in the coming days and weeks. Breitbart London has speculated on the runners and riders for the contest, and has contacted all the candidates to ask them why they’d be best for the position.

This response is from UKIP’s Deputy Chairman, policy maker, and assistant to UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn, Suzanne Evans. The answers follow:

Breitbart London (BL): What makes you the best person to represent UKIP in London in 2016?

Suzanne Evans (SE): I’m well known to UKIP voters and recognised and respected by those supporting other political parties, who often warm to me personally. Because I challenge their assumptions about the UKIP stereotype, I believe I can help broaden UKIP’s appeal, which is crucial in London as our messages are desperately needed here.

London suffers as a result of mass uncontrolled immigration, which fuels the housing crisis, rough sleeping, the black economy, low pay, and crime. This connection isn’t highlighted in the London media and it needs to be. I’m especially concerned about the increase in ‘cultural’ crimes against women such as FGM. I’m appalled there’s not been a single successful prosecution and I’ve raised this issue consistently over the past 20 years – despite being attacked by the hard left for doing so – including in regular meetings I’ve had with senior police officers in London.

I also believe that if we spent less on foreign aid, the Barnett Formula (that sends billions of pounds paid by London taxpayers to Scotland), and scrapped HS2 – which will rip up housing estates in North London and cripple Euston for years – there would be more money for health, social services, transport and housing in London.

I’ve proven myself to be an accomplished communicator and this skill will be essential for such a high profile election and the inevitable plethora of hustings and broadcast debates. I’m used to debating against the Westminster establishment on live programmes such as Question Time and Newsnight and no other candidate comes close to my experience and ability at this level. Also, having authored the 2015 General Election manifesto, and as I’ve been commissioned to write the London manifesto, I’m obviously well across policy, which has got to be a bonus.

BL: If it were a straight choice, would you rather be a London Assembly member, or UKIP’s Mayoral Candidate?

SE: I’ve applied for both and wish to stand as both, in common with other candidates. As UKIP’s Mayoral candidate I can help bring UKIP votes into the fold. As an assembly member I can use my considerable skills and experience in both business and politics – not least as a local Councillor and UKIP Council group leader in London – to hold to account those spending taxpayers’ money in the capital.

BL: Uber — are you for it, or against it?

SE: I’ve always been a black cab girl myself. I think London’s cabbies are brilliant. An iconic part of our street scene, the service they provide is unique and they’re the envy of cities around the world. Both Ken and Boris have treated cabbies badly: they’ve piled ever-more stringent conditions on black cabs, but, since 2005, have allowed the numbers of private-hire operators in the city to double, and they aren’t subject to the same conditions. It’s unfair, and while I certainly wouldn’t ban Uber because it clearly has its place in the public transport mix, there’s got to be a more level playing field so black cabs don’t start vanishing from our streets. That said, until Uber starts paying taxes in Britain, I won’t be using it.

BL: Tube strikes and union drivers. What’s the solution?

SE: Personally I think strikes on key services such as the tube should be banned. Tube drivers can’t be allowed to hold London to ransom, which is what they’re doing at the moment. The RMT leadership would do well to remember that tube drivers are very well paid – they get paid twice as well as bus drivers who do far more difficult work – and that theirs is a service industry. That means serving all passengers, many of whom work night shifts. London’s a vibrant, international, 24 hour city and the transport network needs to keep up. Another solution must be to end the monopoly TfL employees have on tube driver jobs and insist all jobs should be advertised externally. I’ve no opposition to driverless trains – it works well enough on the DLR – however I’d want to see customer service functions beefed up at stations and on trains, again with jobs advertised externally, and the money saved put into increasing security.

BL: How do you feel Boris has done as Mayor? What would you keep, what would you change?

SE: Well to start with, if I were Mayor it would be my only job. Boris let us down by promising to be a full time Mayor, when he’s actually been a part-timer who’s failed spectacularly on policy promises. He promised to have ended rough sleeping long before now. He pledged to keep tube ticket offices open. Six years ago he famously promised Londoners a ‘no strike deal’ with the RMT. What a joke. He’s a hopeless administrator who talks a good game, is great at whizz-bang announcements, but he can’t walk his talk. His greatest triumph was a PR stunt – re-branding Ken Livingston’s cycle hire scheme as ‘Boris bikes.’ Speaks volumes.  

BL: What are the best things about London, in your estimation?

SE: London is so inspirational.  Wherever you look you’re surrounded by the genius of the city’s past and present architects, artists, musicians, private wealth creators and dedicated public sector professionals. It’s vibrant, beautiful, historic, majestic. I love it! There’s so much to see, to do and to enjoy and a lot of the best stuff is free: we don’t have to pay to enjoy the views, the buildings, the parks, and most of the major museums and art galleries.

BL: What are the worst things about London?

SE: The basic cost of living here, especially the cost of housing. It’s madness. Whether you’re buying or renting, ‘affordable’ housing means up to 80 per cent of market values, so even that’s still unaffordable if you’re on the average wage. Minimum wage, forget it. Young, born and bred Londoners could be forgiven for thinking no one cares about them. Public transport costs are also too high and ticket prices need to be rationalised so they treat all passengers fairly, wherever they live in the city. 

BL: Do you think it may be a hindrance that you stood in Shrewsbury rather than a London seat at the General Election?

SE: Of course not. Like millions of Londoners I grew up in one place before coming here to further my career. I’ve lived in London for 27 years now, far longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, and have been an elected Councillor here, gaining huge satisfaction representing Londoners and doing it well. The fact I still have connections to my home town is not at all unusual.   

BL: What do you say to those who reckon the UKIP selection process is a “stitch up” as has been briefed to the Spectator?

SE: As I said to the Spectator journalist when she rang me for comment, I trust the selection panel has the best interests of the party at heart and will select whichever candidate is best for the job. I try to steer clear of spin, anonymous briefings and speculation. 

BL: You recently said: “I don’t think London is going to have a Ukip mayor any time soon”. Does this discourage UKIP-leaning voters, and what do you think UKIP’s realistic aims should be in 2016?

SE: I value honesty and believe the public respect honest and truthful politicians. I know our voters do. UKIP can do exceptionally well and win seats on the Assembly if we can get our key messages and policies across in a sensible, proportionate and engaging way and appeal to voters beyond our current core vote. That I believe is my core strength. And who knows? The bookies have already got me at 50/1, same as current Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, and ahead of Tory Andrew Boff and the Green’s Caroline Pidgeon, so bring it on.


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