Sue Perkins is the UKIP parliamentary candidate for North West Hampshire in May 2015’s elections.
The third candidate choice for the area in less than a month, Sue is the daughter of a farmer, an ex teacher, an ex army captain and an ex Conservative Party member. Now a paid up member of the UKIP party and a self employed tutor, Sue is ready to take on Party Politics.
I met Sue at The Star & Garter, where she had attended an Andover 4Networking breakfast meeting that had been organised to provide a platform for the North West Hampshire Parliamentary Candidates to talk to local business owners.
During the interview, I discovered that Sue is a confident, well-learned woman, who knows what she wants, what she likes and what she believes in.
AaV: Tell me a little about yourself?
Sue: I served in the army for over six years and for two years before that in the territorial army. When I came out of the army, I worked as a teacher in secondary and 6th form education for 25 years, and then a few years ago, I started out as a self employed tutor, specialising in dyslexia.
AaV: Are your husband and children supportive of your candidacy, and will Andover get to meet them?
Sue: My husband will be at the count, but my eldest son is building a Lifeboat Station in Wales in his job as a Civil Engineer and my youngest son is studying to be a commercial pilot.
AaV: Will you move to the area if you win?
Sue: Definitely – Andover is full of character; I absolutely love the area and so will my husband and children. We would look for somewhere in one of the villages. It very much reminds me of my childhood.
AaV: Why UKIP?
Sue: As you know, I was a Conservative and I was becoming more and more disillusioned with the party. I found myself shouting at the television every time David Cameron and George Osborne appeared. I started to research UKIP and first read their defence policy and then their education policy. When I finished, I immediately paid my membership to UKIP online. I agree with everything they stand for 100%. I would have settled for 75% because I agreed with nothing the Conservatives stood for.
I knew it was going to be a difficult journey. I knew I would be called a racist and it would be difficult, but as Mahatma Gandhi said ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win’. UKIP are 75% through, and I believe we will have a breakthrough in 2020.
AaV: Have you ever run as a local councillor or MP before?
Sue: I have run a councillor twice as a Conservative and once for UKIP.
AaV: Did you win?
Sue: No. I am running as a UKIP Councillor in my area this year as well.
AaV: Have you been handed a poisoned chalice by taking up this candidacy after UKIP’s golden girl, Diane James, walked away from it?
AaV: Do you think that UKIP has been rocked recently, with there being three candidates in a short time and Tony Hooke publicly leaving after being the face of UKIP locally?
Sue: No, UKIP does not feel rocked by any of this locally. We are on course and everyone is happy.
Someone did say to me that I more than fill Diane James’ shoes, and commented that I could take all of them on in a debate.
AaV: With the serious issues that are facing the country at the moment, what do you think of UKIP’s main announcement this week that they will be removing the VAT on tampons?
Sue: Well I am sure that a few men will find this amusing, but there is no VAT on medicines. Why should there be on something women HAVE to buy.
AaV: Do you think this is UKIP trying to win around the female vote?
Sue: No I wouldn’t say that. UKIP focuses on policies for the majority and this is one of them.
AaV: Andover & Villages is often accused of being biased against UKIP by local UKIP’ers and more recently by your campaign manager, Daniel Emmerson. What do you think?
Sue: I don’t know you or the website well enough to comment, but I will let you know when I read this interview.
AaV: Is Daniel Emmerson still your campaign manager?
Sue: No, Daniel helped me enormously to begin with, but he is busy with the local council candidates and I can manage on my own.
AaV: One of the AaV FB likers wants to know if you agree that it is the welcoming nature and diversity that makes Britain great?
Sue: Yes I do, but we cannot be the ‘Fairy Godmother’ of the world. We are an island and we have to look after our own people before we start saving everyone else’s. There are not enough houses for the population we have. We need to build a house every 7 minutes to keep up with the current housing demand.
AaV: Do you want to ‘get rid’ of people who live here that aren’t ‘white British’?
Sue: Of course not. Anyone who is here legally is not in question. We want illegal immigrants removed from the country. Those who are here because of the Labour government relaxation of immigration laws are not to blame. I do get asked this question a lot by people who are married to people from other countries – these people are here legally and are not the issue.
AaV: A Facebook user wants to know if you think that pulling out of the EU, and losing a net gain of £8m a day, is the best way to secure a future for our children?
Sue: I don’t know where the £8m a day figure comes from. We actually lose £11 billion a year from being a member of a club, because that’s all it is.
AaV: As a non-Andover area resident, what are you going to do for Andover & the surrounding villages?
Sue: One of the things I want to look at are the pros and cons of the new trauma centre planned for Junction 7 of the M3. I would like to see what the ‘Trigger Figure’ is for Andover, especially with all of the current redevelopment going on. We need better and more services in Andover’s own hospital before we start to build another one that will still be too far away for emergencies.
AaV: The new unit is for Critical Care.
Sue: Yes, but we need better A&E and ambulance provision in Andover. People are nearly dying because ambulances are not getting to them quickly enough.
I would also like to help small businesses. There are swathes of areas locally that have no superfast broadband, especially in the villages. How are people meant to run businesses without superfast broadband? The new estates are not being built with superfast broadband already in place and it’s just not good enough. All new builds should be built with good infrastructure, superfast broadband, schools, parks and community centres.
AaV: What are your views on the TVBC local plan and which specific areas of it will you be looking to influence on behalf of your constituents?
Sue: I will be looking at the infrastructure of the plan. UKIP will always look to build on brownfield sites for instance. Provision of services are vital; doctors in the area have a two-week waiting list for appointments, which is too long; local schools are under pressure and we need to look at the roads in the area. Everything is under pressure, because of the fast rate of houses being built in this area, driving up the population.
Bad decisions are being made locally by planners, like the redirection of the Smannell Road. We need to address these issues.
AaV: A Facebook user wants to know why UKIP agrees with repealing the hunting ban when the majority are against hunting?
Sue: I am a farmer’s daughter and my father kept sheep and chickens. We had no local hunt and, as such, we had a massive issue with the overpopulation of foxes, which meant in the end that he had to get rid of them because the foxes would attack and kill them.
When I was older, I was lucky enough to have my own horse and I did go on many hunts myself. I have never seen a fox ripped apart alive on any of the hunts – the huntsman would always shoot the fox before the dogs were ever allowed to rip the fox apart.
There are of course accidents and incidents where the fox is not shot first, but it doesn’t happen often and it is these incidents that lobbyists pick up on.
AaV: I think a lot of people don’t understand how it can be a ‘sport’ and that people do it for enjoyment?
Sue: It is not about the enjoyment of a fox being killed. It’s the thrill of the ride, the jumps you don’t know are coming and riding over the terrain. No one enjoys hunting for the fox being killed.
AaV: What are your plans to rejuvenate Andover’s Town Centre?
Sue: Andover needs to make the town centre work. I have spoken to people who have told me that they used to come into town by bus to The Lights to enjoy a show and then go on for a meal. They tell me the buses no longer run late at night and so they no longer bother to come in.
That is really bad planning, we need to support local businesses by making sure the infrastructure is in place to allow the public to use them.
AaV: How will you support local businesses?
Sue: I don’t have a magic wand that I can wave, but I want to meet people and hear what they see the issues are and address them. I will be spending a lot of time talking to the locals to find out exactly what their issues are.
AaV: If you get elected, will you hold regular surgeries and meetings in Andover?
Sue: Yes, definitely. Surgeries are obviously one on one, but meetings are imperative for listening to people discuss and gaining ideas from those discussions.
AaV: What do you think of your opponents?
Sue: I met Dan Hill (Green Party), Andrew Adams (Labour Party), Alex Payton (Liberal Democrat) today, who accepted the invitation to come come along to the business networking meeting to find out about Andover’s local entrepreneurs. I listened to them all talk and they were spouting national policy rather than concentrating on any of the local issues.
However, I was shocked that the Conservative’s Kit Malthouse did not bother to turn up today. It seems arrogant and almost like he thinks he has the election in the bag. It is clear he couldn’t even bother to get out of bed and come and meet important business people in our community, and the other candidates.
I am very much looking forward to debating with him at the Hustings.