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Dragon Interview: Harry Aldridge – Ukip’s Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford

Published on: 23 Aug, 2014
Updated on: 28 Aug, 2014
Harry Aldridge

Harry Aldridge, Ukip candidate

Have you heard of Harry Aldridge? Probably not – but the chances are that, unless you determinedly switch off to all things political, you will – because he is the prospective parliamentary Ukip candidate for Guildford. And, if you needed reminding, next year’s general and local elections are only nine months away.

This is what Harry had to say for himself to The Guildford Dragon NEWS…

Tell us about your background.

My parents both grew up in the Guildford area before moving south. I grew up in the Horsham area, moving around a fair bit, going to Pennthorpe school in Rudgwick before going on to Hurstpierpoint College. I had set up a business at 16 and chose not to go to university after my A-levels to pursue my business ambitions. I don’t have any siblings; it’s just me. I’m 28 now, and I moved to Guildford last spring to live with my girlfriend, and we now live in Worplesdon.

What about your working life?

I started off in technology trying to use wireless technology to bring broadband to rural areas. It was a fascinating industry but perhaps not the best industry to jump straight into fresh out of school. I’m now a partner in a small shipping company, exporting goods all over the world to international consumers and businesses. It’s a really interesting business and great fun growing it.

"I wouldn't want to stand anywhere other than my home patch"

“I wouldn’t want to stand anywhere other than my home patch”

Why did you join Ukip and why stand for Guildford?

I joined Ukip way back in 2004 when I was 17. It was the EU issue that got me interested, although I quickly warmed to the other polices at the time. It’s been fascinating watching the party grow and shift the EU debate in this country. I am personally economically and socially liberal so I broadly believe in lower taxes, less government interference win our lives, slimming down government, and public services, especially Education and the NHS. Why stand in Guildford? Well, it’s now my home patch and I grew up coming to Guildford so I am familiar with the area, and I wouldn’t want to stand anywhere other than my home patch.

Don’t most vote for Ukip as a protest vote because they are disillusioned with the main parties?

It is true that a lot of Ukip support has been a protest, born out of frustration. However, in the sense of a protest vote being temporary flash in the pan I don’t think that is the case. Our vote has been increasing steadily for years, and in local elections especially we now have hundreds of councillors elected across the country, and we’re the official opposition on some councils, so when you vote Ukip increasingly you get Ukip representation. Anyway, all votes a protest against ‘the others’, whatever your political persuasion.

Several Ukip members have been heard to make racist comments. Isn’t  your party full of WASP middle aged men who are closet racists or doesn’t it, at least, attract a large number of them?

We’ve certainly had trouble with some members saying unsavoury things, but when that has happened we have dealt with them and kicked them out where appropriate. Other parties are not immune and have their share of members who say stupid or nasty things. Ukip perhaps has suffered more, which is inevitable when you are a small party that is growing rapidly, as you attract a mix of eccentric and independently minded people and lack the resources or infrastructure to handle it. I think we’ve done a reasonable job of late in improving the quality of our candidates. I wouldn’t remain in a party that was full of racist, bigoted, intolerant or nasty people.

As for the ‘middle aged men’ accusation, it’s just not the case. I was chairman of Young Independence, the party youth wing during 2011/12 and we went from 200 or so members to near 1,000, and it’s now at 2,600 and growing rapidly. In terms of women we’ve always had lots of women in the party, but look at the recent European Elections where 30 per cent of our MEPs are now women. That’s double the share of Conservative and Lib-Dem MPs and about the same as Labour, and crucially all were voted for by the membership without quotas or all-women short lists.

Most voters know your party for its views on immigration and EU membership are you just a two issue party?

Those two policies are perhaps the best known but we have many other policies. Our new manifesto for the 2015 General Election is being launched at our conference in September in Doncaster. It will retain our long time policy of abolishing income tax on minimum wage, raising the 40p tax threshold and scrapping the 45p rate. It will also spell out spending cuts we will make, starting with scaling back foreign aid and slimming down some government departments. It will also talk about education and our commitment to new grammar schools along with improved vocational training.

But given that your primary concern is the U.K.’s membership of the EU why does your party even stand in local elections?

We stand in local elections because we have an array of policies besides our EU membership, although that unites our members. In Guildford we support lower council tax and reigning in executive pay, as well as allowing residents to petition for referendums on major issues like large scare development. Gaining a foothold at local level gives us a chance to prove ourselves and show we can deliver, gain trust and build support, and challenge the established parties who have often dominated local politics for decades. It gives us a platform to help advance our primary policies.

Which way for Harry?

Which way for Harry?

Where would you position your party on the left-right political spectrum?

I would say the party is pretty centrist now. Our new manifesto has been trailed as unashamedly blue-collar, designed to appeal to the aspirational working voter. You’ll find a mix of policies traditionally seen as right and left, but the general direction is to leave more money in our pockets with lower taxes, particularly for lower earners, and to remove the state from interfering too much in our lives, and to slim down government.

What are your views on the Guildford’s Local Plan and the potential use of green belt for more housing?

Well, firstly we have to have development, and that development has to be somewhere. We need new houses to accommodate a rising population and desire for people to live in the area. It’s not a good long term position to price local people out of the area they grew up. Guildford house prices, relative to incomes, are higher than the national average, meaning they are out of reach for many.

Having said that, we now have a target figure of 652 houses per year for the next 20 years, double the previous working assumption. It is not at all clear what this number is based on and if it is appropriate. Also I think there are fundamental issues with large scale housing developments, where too often it seems little regard is given to the ability of the infrastructure to cope. I think people are fairly unsatisfied with the apparent inability of our local and central government to act in a joined up way on development.

I also think that more consideration need to be given to incorporating green spaces into our developments to help break up large scale developments and create nicer environments to live in.

We have a huge national debt and welfare spending is our biggest ticket item how would Ukip tackle that?

Well you’ll have to wait for our manifesto launch to see the detail. However there is concern, some perceived and some real, that our welfare system is open to abuse both by migrant workers and by some Brits making welfare a lifestyle choice. It is vital that we have a welfare system than is not so labyrinthine you need a PhD to understand it, and and that people have confidence that it is operating in a fair manner. This means a shift away from something-for-nothing and back towards a contributory principle to benefit those who have worked and paid in.

Another problem for many of the longer term unemployed is that they find themselves in competition at the low skilled end of jobs market with migrant workers. While immigration can be good for the country as a whole, it can affect certain groups of people very hard, and Ukip’s Australian style points based immigration and work permit system would tighten the inflow of foreign workers back to the more sustainable levels we used to have.

In its current form, is democracy really working in the UK, at the moment?

You could say that the rise of Ukip either proves that it is broken, or that it is working as it should. I think now with the internet, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook it is easier than ever to be heard and for likeminded people to come together. It has been good for Ukip and it is also good for single issue campaigns which can make a difference when they capture the public mood.

However, government is too centralised, local government is actually local administration and little meaningful happens locally where we have more input and accountability. Politics has become much more boring, fighting over a tweak here or there, without the ideological battles of the past. Is declining voter turnout good because it indicates a content population? Or does it point to a disengaged electorate who feel they have no stake in their government? I sway to the latter.

How well do you predict your party will do in the 2015 general election and why?

I think we will do pretty well, and even perhaps see the first Ukip MPs elected. We are aiming to contest every seat for the first time which is a milestone, and this time we have more members, foot soldiers, money, awareness, and media interest. Judging by opinion polls the support we have built up before the European Elections has stayed with us and shows no signs of going elsewhere.

Voters are not animated by the Labour party under Ed Miliband’s disastrous leadership, they don’t trust the Lib-Dems after the U-turn on tuition fees and other policies since entering into coalition government, and nor are they fired up by a fairly bland Conservative party platform led by a fairly uninspiring David Cameron.

In Guildford, who knows. We scored some 20 per cent vote share across Guildford in the 2013 local elections so I hope to build on that.

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Responses to Dragon Interview: Harry Aldridge – Ukip’s Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford

  1. Jon Kriet Reply

    August 24, 2014 at 12:19 am

    I would like to know Harry’s views on the NHS. Would he like to see more services outsourced?

  2. Harry Aldridge Reply

    August 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    My views on the NHS are that I support universal healthcare, i.e. that everyone should have healthcare regardless of income/wealth. However I think that we can learn much from other models of provision such as France, Netherlands, Singapore, etc, where more flexible social insurance systems are used and the blend of public and private sector is much more mixed.

    I think we need a full split between funding and provision.

    I hope that helps.

    Harry Aldridge is Ukip’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Guildford.

  3. David Wilson Reply

    September 2, 2014 at 10:00 am

    This seems too be like a very sensible set of political views, expressed in a clear and comprehensible way. Very impressed by the way he answered the questions.

    I would certainly consider voting for a candidate like Harry.

    Unfortunately, I don’t live in the UK at present, although I assume that I still have a vote.

  4. Patirck Ayling Reply

    May 13, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I am now at the age of 68 and in all my years I have never joined a political party. But now the UKIP party is here to stay and I am now a full paid up member.

    Our country has be the United kingdom and the people that live here have to make their mind up to what country they real give their allegiance to.

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