UKIP is the latest party to confirm who will fly its colours during the 2016 mayoral election: they're putting forward the party's culture spokesman, Peter Whittle.
Whittle is a born and bred Londoner, hailing from Peckham and Shooters Hill, and now living in Woolwich. In 2006, Whittle founded the New Culture Forum, which aims to counter the "[liberal left's] triumph of cultural relativism and political correctness in the opinion-forming fields of the media, academia, education and culture". He's also gay, which means none of the major parties have (so far) nominated a straight, white man to run for mayor.
Of his mayoral policies, he favours immigration control for solving the housing crisis and easing pressures on schools and the healthcare system. He's opposed to expanding Heathrow and is pro grammar schools. A recent blog post makes some vague but interesting comments about the monetisation of public spaces.
Whittle is also top of the party's nominees for the London Assembly (though someone should probably point out to them — oh, alright, we will — that there's no such thing as the 'Greater London Assembly'. London Assembly/Greater London Authority. Two different things). These are the people who, in order, stand to win a seat from the proportional part of the Assembly election. With UKIP's increasing popularity in parts of outer London, it's not inconceivable that Whittle will be the first UKIP Assembly Member since 2005*.
If UKIP wins two seats, Whittle would be joined by David Kurten, a chemistry teacher who stood in Camberwell and Peckham in the general election. Suzanne Evans, UKIP's deputy chair and thought to be the frontrunner for the mayoral nod, is third on the Assembly list; Havering councillor Lawrence Webb is fourth. Mike Read — yes, the DJ, and of recent calypso infamy — is sixth.
We were also rather surprised to see Anne Marie Waters on the list of UKIP's potential Assembly Members. Waters was UKIP's candidate for Lewisham East at the general election, and was filmed by The Mirror prior to polling day calling Islam an "aggressive religion" and was quoted as saying "immigration from Islamic countries has to stop entirely". What has she been doing since the election? Well, she's co-founded an organisation called Victims of Islamic Cultural Extremism, the launch of which had as its speaker... one Tommy Robinson, ex leader and founder of the EDL. She's ninth on UKIP's Assembly list and so has absolutely no chance of a seat, but the fact she's been selected at all makes us wonder quite what UKIP are thinking.
* This is a bit complicated. Two UKIP members (Damian Hockney and Peter Hulme-Cross) were elected to the Assembly in 2004, but defected to Veritas (which split from UKIP) in early 2005. Veritas kind of fell apart after the 2005 election, so Hockney and Hulme-Cross formed the One London party. It got annihilated in the 2008 election. If anyone's interested what happened to Veritas, by the way, it merged with the English Democrats a couple of weeks ago.