THE UK Independence Party in Coventry is fielding three general election candidates and is hoping its tough stance on immigration can reverse its recent decline in popularity, after several years of gains in the share of vote.
The UKIP vote fell in this month’s local elections nationally losing 145 council seats and gaining only one – with many switching to the Conservatives – to back Theresa May’s stance in seeking a ‘mandate’ for her negotiations with Europe over the terms of the UK’s exit.
Some voters have questioned the purpose of the party since it achieved its central goal, with last year’s vote for the UK to leave the European Union.
UKIP claims it is the only party to be trusted to deliver the type of Brexit people want and that it campaigned for in the referendum, including with immigration curbs.
While Coventry is increasingly becoming a cosmopolitan city, not least through its two universities, UKIP under new leader Paul Nuttall pledged last week a target of zero net migration – billed as a ‘one in, one out’ plan.
The Conservatives last week said it would continue with its failed pledge – made to voters in the 2010 and 2015 general elections – to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’.
The latest figure stands at 273,000 for the 12 months to last September, which included university students – as do Mrs May’s and UKIP’s pledges.
Coventry UKIP’s three candidates are Ian Rogers (Coventry South), Mick Gee (Coventry North west) and Avtar Taggar (Coventry North east).
Mr Rogers is the 28-year-old chairman of Coventry UKIP.
He says he is an ‘openly gay man and wants to put a focus on welfare support and social care in Coventry.’
He was born in the city and was also in foster care in Leamington Spa during his early teens.
He has worked with the council in children’s services, and with Barnardo’s Midlands delivering training to foster carers and social workers.
He stood twice in Henley in the local elections.
Mr Gee is a veteran with the Royal Corps of Signals and Bomb Disposal Regiment and has served in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Sierra Leone.
He retired from military service in 2008 and lives in the constituency, working for Jaguar Land Rover. He was previously the UKIP candidate in Meriden in 2015.
He says he is ‘committed to stopping HS2 and London overflow development on greenbelt land in the North west of the city.’
Mr Taggar was born in Coventry and grew up in the constituency. He is an IT professional and completed an MSc degree in e-Business Management at the University of Warwick. He spent 13 years working in Bahrain and The United Arab Emirates.
He says he is ‘committed to delivering a real Brexit which people in Coventry voted for in the referendum last June.’