Election 2015

Election 2015: East coast voters weigh up UKIP


With his left hand guiding his violin bow Simon is busking, in the centre of Grimsby. He's come from Romania.

It's fresh evidence of a surge in Eastern European migrants affecting towns up and down eastern England some might say.

But the truth is the vast majority of people in Grimsby - around 95% - describe themselves as white British. A generation of industrial decline has left the place looking for a future though. UKIP has tapped into that and it's Labour - who've dominated here for decades - which could suffer.

"The only grievance against the Labour Party now is that the fact that they never mention the word socialist," says 70-year-old former sea fisherman Graham.

After a lifetime of voting Labour - like his dad before him - he's voting UKIP this time.

"He has the answers to some of the country's economic problems let's face it," Graham says about Nigel Farage, adding: "We are being overwhelmed, I mean, we are being invaded without a shot being fired."

Nigel Farage is a former Conservative, as are a lot of UKIP's upper echelons, but the party gets support from across the spectrum. Graham is part of the 10% polling company Populus found voted Labour in 2010 but are going UKIP this time.

'Changing mind'

Completely unprompted this UKIP convert also mentioned Ed Miliband's religion.

Image caption Graham has always voted Labour - until now

Our exchange went like this:

Graham: "I'm not sure we are ready for the first Jewish prime minister since Disraeli but if he's Jewish"

Me: "Is that a problem for you?"

Graham: "Not really."

Me: "How come you mentioned it then?"

Graham: "It's not a problem being Jewish but I'm just saying a lot of people would be anti-Semitic, I would have thought in this country, I mean I'm not personally."

So who is your average UKIP supporter?

Mr Farage often talks about attracting people to his party who haven't voted for decades. The surveys suggest UKIP supporters are mostly older white men. But in Grimsby there's more proof that's not always the case. I met Jo - who didn't want to say what her job is.

"I've always gone Liberal Democrat and now I think I'm changing my mind again this time."

'Enough's enough'

She's heading for UKIP, and here's why: "A lot of their policies for me are what I agree with. It's mainly the immigration."

She's not a fan of Mr Farage. Her mum standing next to her as we speak would only refer to the UKIP leader as "him". But it's the sense of being left behind and an economic vulnerability that she points to.

Image caption Members of Cleethorpes bowls club are pondering the UKIP option

"We are struggling especially in a town like this where the fishing industry has gone and that and we are struggling with people. They need jobs and where I work we are seeing more and more Eastern Europeans coming in and other nations and they are taking the jobs. Enough's enough".

Three short stops down the railway line from Grimsby is Cleethorpes, where the Conservatives are defending a majority in the face of a UKIP onslaught.

At the bowls club, retired manager Brian says he would be tempted to vote UKIP in the local elections, but of Nigel Farage he quickly adds: "I don't think ever he'll be in parliament. He'll never be prime minister. "

He said he's been a loyal Tory voter but nonetheless it's clear he's given thought to the rise of UKIP and the role people like him could play in it.

"I think I'll be wasting my vote" he says of going purple, "it won't happen in my lifetime anyway. I'm 75 and I think it will be another 10 years before they get really powerful."

I didn't find anyone on the lawns of Cleethorpes who had heard the Conservative message on the SNP and was suddenly scared of Nicola Sturgeon.

But as vote day gets closer some are clearly weighing up UKIP.

But also wondering if it's worth changing sides.

Here's a full list of candidates for Great Grimsby and there is a constituency profile here.

Victoria Ayling - UKIP

Steve Beasant - Lib Dem

Gary Calder - Independent

Vicky Dunn - Green

Marc Jones - Conservative

Val O'Flynn - TUSC

Melanie Onn - Labour

Here's a full list of candidates for Cleethorpes and there is a constituency profile here.

Stephen Harness - UKIP

Roy Horobin - Liberal Democrat

Peter Keith - Labour

Malcolm Morland - TUSC

Carol Thornton - Green

Martin Vickers - Conservative