General Election 2015: Mark Webber (UKIP)

Post length: 576 words, about 2 and a half minutes.

Details

Full name: Mark Adrian Webber
Party: United Kingdom Independence Party
Website: http://markwebber2015.org/

Analysis

We’ve been recieving leaflets and information from UKIP for a long time, well before any of the other parties started campaigning. We’ve also seen them about town — in person and in the form of a poster van — as well as noticing they have been putting flyers under windscreen wipers in nearby car parks. Given that South West Surrey makes up part of Nigel Farage’s South East England European Parliament constituency, it’s not a big surprise to see a lot of UKIP coverage in the area.

Mark Webber himself is not a resident of the constituency, his home address on the nomination notice is Poplar and Limehouse constituency (London). Indeed, at the AGM on 3rd March he was elected chairman of the Tower Hamlets branch of UKIP. For me this is a bad sign: while the majority of the media focus in general elections is on national policy, electors vote for a local representative and I do question how someone living outside of the constituency can identify with the local issues. Webber’s “About Me” section on his website does say that he grew up in Odiham and Farnborough, but neither towns are in South West Surrey.

That said, Webber’s specific material — his website and the leaflet attached below — do spin some of the lesser known national issues the party has built itself on into local issues (albeit without mentioning the area specifically): safeguard the NHS; protect greenbelt; encourage real local democracy.

Webber is a self employed IT consultant in the City of London and talks about his believe in small government, libertarianism individual freedom and (slightly strangely in this list, in my opinion) property rights.

Of course UKIP as a whole state these things as part of their own party beliefs along side the more widely known policies around the European Union and immigration. And this is why I find it a little bit strange that Webber mentions a number of times that he will not “toe a party line.” Perhaps his personal opinion is very closely aligned with that of UKIP as a whole — and there would of course be no problem with that — but I find it unlikely that he would be quite as independent as he would like to make out. If so why not run as a wholly independent candidate?

The flyer itself is heavily central-UKIP based. While the front does say it outlines his policy focus for South West Surrey, I suspect these bullet points are used by a large number of UKIP candidates. The back doesn’t pretend to be anything but central party policy; “UKIP WILL” taking up most of the page.

Conclusion

While Webber seems to have been educated somewhat locally I find it hard to get over the feeling that he’s been parachute into the constituency. It seems that there’s little focus on the area itself further than the general UKIP ideas spun to fit the name and some photos of the candidate near signs showing he’s visited at least once, and indeed Webber seems to have little to say of his own despite claiming he would be an independent voice for the constituency. He might fare well in the Conservative heartlands of South West Surrey due to it’s socioeconomic makeup but if so I would put this down to the party, rather than the person.

Posted on Wednesday 22nd April, 2015 at 8:44 am in Obiter dicta.
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