Boston and Skegness will be key to UKIP’s parliamentary hopes, say political analysts

UKIP's leader Nigel Farage, pictured between Skegness county councillors Robin and Dean Hunter-Clarke (left and right)
UKIP's leader Nigel Farage, pictured between Skegness county councillors Robin and Dean Hunter-Clarke (left and right)

A campaign targeting Boston and Skegness will offer UKIP its greatest chance of success in 2015’s general election, political analysts have advised.

The Electoral Reform Society’s analysis of May’s local elections has highlighted the constituency as UKIP’s key to negotiating the pitfalls of first past the post voting and convert its substantial local authority gains into parliamentary seats.

Lincolnshire’s UKIP group leader Coun Chris Pain, who says he will be standing as the party’s parliamentary candidate for Boston and Skegness in 2015, believes the report is ‘spot on’.

“Boston and Skegness will be one of UKIP’s first seats in Westminster that are taken at the 2015 General Election, although I do firmly believe that we will have won several parliamentary by-elections by then,” he said.

The society suggests that minority parties face greater chances of success by targeting existing council strongholds rather than blindly campaigning everywhere - likening UKIP’s chances in Boston and Skegness to the Green Party’s 2010 success in Brighton Pavilion.

“UKIP must ignore siren voices to campaign everywhere,” said Darren Hughes, director of campaigns and research at the ERS.

“If they are willing to focus then Boston and Skegness could be their Brighton Pavilion,”

The ERS report highlights the value local councillors can provide a party in acting as ‘super activists’, developing support and offering insights into local matters to be utilised in election campaigns.

The Green Party took victory in Brighton after establishing a firm base on the local council.

And in Boston and Skegness, UKIP now hold 10 of the 13 wards in the constituency, winning around 42 per cent of the vote - creating a strong platform for the party to mount its campaign.

Party leader Nigel Farage says it is now time for the councillors to work hard and prove their worth.

“While I would say that if I were [the current MP for Boston and Skegness] Mark Simmonds I would be having sleepless nights about the next general election, and there is no doubt that Boston and Skegness is an obvious target seat for UKIP, we have to do much more than win a slew of county council seats in the constituency,” he said.

“Now we have to show people that we are serious about local governance and are able to address and help people with their daily lives.

“It will take hard graft - happily knowing the calibre of our councillors there, I am confident that that will happen.

“If we prove that we deserve the trust of the people of Boston and Skegness there is every chance that these recent results will translate into a successful night in 2015”.

Mr Farage and many of the newly elected UKIP councillors, including Coun Pain and councillors Dean and Robin Hunter-Clarke, the father and son ward-holders for Skegness, recently attended a party excursion to Brussels, the EU capital, in Belgium.

The meeting was intended to help the new councillors develop local policies, while offering the chance to view the EU Parliament buildings, their party is so opposed to.

Coun Pain claims the party’s opposition to the EU and unchecked immigration has resonated with many voters, locally and nationally, who he says are fed up with the main three parties, having seen their views ignored.