UKIP's candidate for the Stroud constituency has spoken to the Gazette on why her party is now a serious contender in upcoming elections.
Caroline Stephens is vying to become the first ever MP from the United Kingdom Independence Party and is also spearheading the campaign for seats on the district council as well.
Originally from Yorkshire, Mrs Stephens has lived in Chippenham for 18-years but does not believe the 27-mile distance from her potential constituents will put off voters, saying many people commute further to work.
The mother of two is making education the heart of her drive to be an MP and is calling for an extension of the grammar school system instead of free schools.
“I am a family person who is worried about the next generation,” she said.
“Looking to the next generation and my children’s future is why I got involved in UKIP.”
The former banker has enjoyed considerable success after only joining the party a year ago as she is now chairman of the Stroud constituency UKIP group and prospective parliamentary candidate.
She admits she faces a challenge convincing people in the green-centric Stroud district, with the party highly critical of renewable energy schemes and herself already facing backlash from her beliefs that man-made climate change has not yet been proven.
The party’s line is that the majority of renewable energy projects are overly expensive and schemes like subsidies for solar farms just make more money for rich landowners and do not provide the amount of energy we need.
“We oppose solar farms because the landowners are being paid up to a thousand pounds an acre. People think it’s free energy, but it’s not,” she said.
“We’ve got a situation where by 2016 where 40 per cent of the population will be in fuel poverty. People are choosing between heating and eating.”
When asked by the Gazette what would happen when fossil fuels ran out, she said: “We have got so much. There is so much underground. Germany have a lot of coal to burn.”
She also said that these projects took up a lot of space for growing food.
According to Mrs Stephens, the party was now appealing to a wider demographic than ever before, buoyed by UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s success in televised debates with deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg.
“I think it was very good for UKIP,” she said.
“A lot listened to Nigel and said he spoke sense and now have a better understanding of what UKIP is about, while Nick was unemotional and lacked passion.”
UKIP also has candidates fielded for the upcoming Stroud District Council elections on May 22 and is handing out 10,000 leaflets in the Dursley and Cam area in the coming weeks.
James Sproston is standing for the Dursley seat while Jim Simpson is contesting the Cam East ward and a candidate for Cam West to be announced soon.
UKIP are holding a public meeting at Dursley Town Hall on Tuesday, April 29 from 7pm to 8pm.