John Harris

Journalist & Author

On the election trail in Plymouth: ‘Farage is a character, isn’t he?’

The Devon city has long been split between Labour and the Tories, but Ukip is benefitting from growing Euroscepticism

The door of the bungalow swings open, and the woman who answers it she works for Plymouth city council so will not give her name looks indifferently at a Labour party leaflet. "I’m a grafter," she says. "You’re not doing nothing for me."

Then her husband appears. Brian Wilson, a 68-year-old retired council cleaner and lifelong Labour voter, is clearly annoyed. "Mr Farage is the only one telling the truth about Europe," he says. In vain, a solitary Labour party canvasser tries to start a forensic discussion about Ukip’s free market economics and Farage’s belief in flat taxes but it sounds like emotion and raw anger being met with clinical policy wonkery, to nobody’s great benefit. And so Wilson carries on: Ed Miliband, he says, "isn’t strong enough"; he "definitely wouldn’t vote Tory"; he thinks health service cuts are linked to immigration and because the EU sits under the last issue, there’s only one box in which he should put his cross.

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