UKIP hopeful Andrew joins race to become East Devon’s MP

UKIP's parliamentary candidate Andrew Chapman

UKIP's parliamentary candidate Andrew Chapman - Credit: Archant

UKIP’s parliamentary candidate believes he has a real chance to unseat incumbent East Devon Tory MP Hugo Swire in May’s General Election.

In his first media interview, Andrew Chapman, 68, told the Herald that he would not be standing if he did not think he could win.

At the last election Mr Swire received 25,662 votes compared to UKIP’s 4,346.

An Ottery St Mary resident, Mr Chapman’s candidature follows the European election earlier this year, when UKIP won more votes in East Devon than the Conservatives.

He is the latest to join a line-up of parliamentary candidates contesting the East Devon seat.

Claire Wright is standing as an independent while Jessica Pearce has thrown her hat into the ring for Labour.

The Lib Dems, who polled a third of votes in 2010, do not yet have a candidate.

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Mr Chapman said: “I would not have spent a third of my modest pension pot on being elected if I had no chance at all.”

Recently retired Mr Chapman, a graduate of Goldsmiths’ College, London, was a schoolteacher and salesman before building Guitar Workshops, his own music teaching and performing business in Surrey.

In 1987, his business folded and he believes that this experience of ‘real life’ sets him apart from most Westminster politicians.

“They haven’t got a handle on what real people think and what their problems are.

“Few people in politics have done anything else other than politics, so I do feel I have something to contribute.

“In that first winter after my business folded, I experienced what it was like to be cold and hungry.”

Mr Chapman was elected to Surrey County Council as Lib Dem in the late 1980s and in 1990 moved to Shropshire and qualified as an accountant.

There he set up his second business, Staff Accounting, until 2011.

“This election has to be fought on issues. I get fed up with personality politics,” he said.

“The job of an elected representative is to speak to people, listen and take on board people’s views.

“To that extent, I don’t believe Hugo Swire is a good elected representative.”

He said he wants to stand up for what is right and not what is popular, adding: “Politics is about dividing up a limited pot fairly.

“We have to look at how we can adjust the balance of the way the resources are divided, which at the moment is tipped in favour of older people against younger people who have yet to find a sustainable place in their community.”

Married to Amy, Mr Chapman still plays a full season of cricket, is a keen bell ringer and musician and was chairman of his local drama society in Shropshire.

He is passionate about helping people to help themselves and believes that helping small businesses is the key to Britain’s future.

“The option to obtain capital to start up is not available to young people the way it was 20 years ago,” said Mr Chapman.

“If UKIP can find a way to help people obtain what they need to set themselves up, with the expectation they will yield an economic return, that is going to be a prize that will win UKIP the election.”

He has framed the election in terms of those who are against the EU and those who are for it.

Mr Chapman said: “People will have to decide if they want to be part of the ideology of the EU, its directives and edicts, or if they want their sovereignty back.

“I think there will be enough disaffected Tories to give me a real chance.”