Pete Muswell: The Ukip local elections candidate standing for Islington’s EU Leave voters

Islington Gazette hustings for Islington South and Finsbury in St Mary's Church. Picture: Polly Hanc

Islington Gazette hustings for Islington South and Finsbury in St Mary's Church. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Ukip’s Pete Muswell wanted to take part in the Gazette’s hustings on Monday. We said no. It would have been unfair when he is one of only two Ukip candidates in the May 3 local elections – while the four main parties are fielding a full slate of candidates.

But even as his party continues to die on the national stage, it’s worth hearing what the born and bred Finsbury boy has to say.

“Cut off my leg,” Mr Muswell invites the Gazette, “and it bleeds Islington. Islington runs through me like a stick of rock.”

He’s standing in the Bunhill ward because he believes the 25,180 people who voted Brexit in 2016 have been forgotten by Islington Council.

“I’m standing because those 25,000 people deserve a voice on the council. Admittedly, many more [76,420] voted Remain, but no one is representing people like me on the council.”

You may remember grandfather-of-three Mr Muswell standing for Islington South and Finsbury in last year’s general election.

He finished last, with 929 votes (a 1.9 per cent share). This was way down from his 3,375 votes in 2015 (7.6pc).

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Islington’s electorate has made its views on Ukip pretty clear. Why, then, does Mr Muswell continue to punish himself?

“I know I’m never going to get elected in Labour Islington,” he admits. “People ask me: ‘Why do you do it?’ the truth is, someone has to speak the truth to the powerful. Only Ukip are trying to do that.

“There are some Islington Labour councillors who are decent, honest, ordinary working class people who do their best. And the leader, Richard Watts, is a decent guy. He has always listened when I’ve approached him with problems on my estate.

“But I disagree with Islington Labour’s brand of socialism. And with 47 out of 48 Labour councillors, that to me isn’t a representative democracy. I don’t support the Greens, but I don’t like how Caroline Russell gets excluded.”

Mr Muswell, who lives in the Redbrick Estate off Old Street and manages its Vibast Community Centre, says it won’t be a waste of time if, as he anticipates, Bunhill’s voters don’t elect him.

“I don’t expect to get elected, but I want the people who feel the same as me to at least have a name representing them on the ballot paper.”