NIGEL Farage has enjoyed a boost in his political popularity in Hartlepool ahead of his visit to the town this weekend.
According to a Hartlepool Mail pre-election survey, the UKIP leader – in town this weekend for his party’s North East Conference – 31 per cent of those who took part said they’d like to see him moving into 10 Downing Street in May.
That gave him a higher rating than Labour’s Ed Miliband (30 per cent) and current Prime Minister David Cameron (26 per cent).
However, 55 per cent of participants expect Mr Cameron to be re-elected, with only 33 per cent predicting Mr Miliband to triumph and 11 per cent tipping Mr Farage to become PM.
Of the 171 readers who took part in our survey, 86 per cent said they would vote in the election, an encouragingly high potential turnout. And two-thirds say they have already decided which way they will vote.
And 83 per cent cited health as the most important issue ahead of the election, no doubt a reflection of the ongoing campaign to transfer services back to the University Hospital of Hartlepool from North Tees.
Immigration (75 per cent), welfare (60 per cent) and Europe (53 per cent) came next in terms of people’s political priorities.
Mr Farage is heading for Hartlepool after claiming the town is “the best place” to gain a regional breakthrough.
He said last year that he considered Hartlepool to be “interesting” as he earmarked areas where his party could gain seats.
As the build-up to May’s General Election hots up, Mr Farage has now confirmed he will be spending two days in the town with a gala dinner today followed by UKIP’s North East conference on Saturday.
Speaking on his last visit to the region, Mr Farage told the media in Gateshead: “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.”
In 2010, UKIP took just seven per cent of the vote in Hartlepool and Iain Wright retained his seat.
Mr Farage will be at a dinner, which is being held at the Grand Hotel, before the conference on Saturday at The Borough Hall on the Headland, which will see various speakers and exhibitions between 10am-5pm.
Your answers to the questions
Did you vote in the 2010 General Election?
Will you vote on May 7?
3% might or
Do you know how you will vote?
66% yes, pretty sure
23% have an inclination but may vote
for someone else
12% don’t know
What issues will have the biggest bearing on how you will vote?
60% welfare policy
53% approach to Europe and Eu
50% Support for elderly
16% business support
6% arts and culture
Who would you most like to see as PM?
Nigel Farage (UKIP) 31%
Ed Miliband (Labour) 30%
David Cameron (Conservative) 26%; Natalie Bennett (Green) 9%
Nick Clegg (LibDem) 4%
Who do you think will be PM?
David Cameron 55%
Ed Miliband 33%
Nigel Farage 11%
Natalie Bennett 1%
Nick Clegg 0%