Wales politics

UKIP warned not to select candidates from outside Wales

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Media captionKen Beswick, who stood for UKIP in Torfaen, says voters will reject 'outside' candidates

Former UKIP election candidates have said allowing high profile figures from outside Wales to apply to stand in the assembly election will put off voters.

Ex-MPs Mark Reckless and Neil Hamilton, and Nigel Farage's head of media Alexandra Phillips are all applying to stand as regional list candidates.

Ken Beswick, UKIP's general election candidate in Torfaen, said Welsh members should run the party in Wales.

UKIP said it wanted the "best quality of representation possible" for Wales.

If the party maintains recent levels of support in Wales it is likely to get several regional list AMs, as they are elected via a form of proportional representation.

The regional list candidates will be picked by a central committee, whereas the party's 40 constituency candidates will be selected by local branch votes.

The successful regional list candidates will be announced in October.

One former candidate, who did not want to be named, told BBC Wales he was "extremely angry" and he and others were considering quitting the party over the way the selection is being run.

Another said if Mr Reckless, Mr Hamilton and Ms Phillips were selected they would "go down like a lead balloon" with voters.

Image caption Mark Reckless is amongst those from outside Wales seeking to become AMs

Ken Beswick said: "They're being brought in from the outside with little knowledge of the area or the people, or the customs, or the assembly for that matter - you need local people.

"UKIP is going to have a hard enough time anyway fighting the Conservatives and Labour and to have candidates coming from the outside that no-one knows, and they're not Welsh, is not going to go down well.

"The autonomy the party should have in Wales isn't there - they're being dictated to by head office."

  • Neil Hamilton was born in Bedwellty and grew up in Carmarthenshire. He served as Conservative MP for Tatton from 1983 to 1997. He joined UKIP in 2011 and is currently its deputy chairman.
  • Mark Reckless defected from the Conservatives to UKIP in 2014 but lost his Rochester and Strood seat at the general election. He is head of policy development for UKIP Wales.
  • Alexandra Phillips is a former ITV Wales journalist who worked for former UKIP Wales MEP John Bufton before becoming Nigel Farage's head of press.

UKIP Wales leader Nathan Gill said his party was "committed to ensuring that the people of Wales have the best quality representation possible".

"It is for this reason that UKIP has designed a rigorous process for selecting regional list candidates that will ensure that the right people are put forward by the party at next year's elections."

A UKIP spokesman said all major decisions were made by a National Executive Committee to which any UK member could seek election.

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