NATIONAL leaders of the UK Independence Party say Hartlepool is the “best place” to target for a North-East breakthrough in the 2015 general election.
Nigel Farage said he has the town in his sights for the region’s first UKIP MP with party planners focusing all their efforts on Hartlepool in the build up to voters going to the ballot box next year.
Back in 2010 UKIP took just 7 per cent of the vote and Labour MP Iain Wright currently holds the seat with a majority of 5,509.
But speaking after a recent visit to Gateshead, Mr Farage said: “We will not win where Labour has a massive majority, but we can find marginals or other seats where we can make a difference.
“Hartlepool is very, very interesting. Watch Hartlepool. It is an interesting seat for us in 2015.
“We have a base there, it is our longest established branch in the North-East.
“The North-East is our fastest growing membership area, and if I had to pick I’d say Hartlepool was an area where we can make a substantial impact.
“We will have to look hard after the elections at what our targets will be in 2015, but Hartlepool is very interesting to us.”
It comes as the Hartlepool branch of UKIP announced its prospective parliamentary candidate for next year’s general election, with Phillip Broughton set to stand for the role of MP in the town in 2015.
Mr Broughton, who lives in Ingleby Barwick, was selected at a hustings event, held at The Hourglass pub, in Eaglesfield Road, in the town after receiving the required votes of two thirds of the members who were present.
Mr Broughton said voters have the chance to make “a real difference” in Hartlepool and says he hopes 2015 can be a “turning point” in North -East politics.
UKIP came second in a recent South Shields by-election, despite never standing there before and national party leaders say they are “giving it a go” in the region.
Mr Farage added: “It’s a Labour heartland, but you know what, we’re having a go.
“Let’s be honest. We are at a later stage in our development in the North-East, compared to, say, the East of England.
“That’s because we didn’t quite get over the line in 2009, 15.4 per cent in those elections. Let’s see where we are after these elections.”