Colourful former lawyer John James, one of Birmingham’s best known business figures, is to stand for UKIP in the forthcoming Stratford District Council elections.
Mr James, a partner with Edge & Ellison solicitors in the city for nearly 20 years and former chief executive of Birmingham Forward and ex-Director of the city’s College of Law, is backing the ‘true party of protest.’
The 68-year-old businessman, who describes himself as semi-retired, is to fight the Tanworth in Arden ward in May along with several other UKIP candidates.
He said: “I have been a UKIP supporter for about nine months. I am a semi-retired businessman now and have got more time to devote to being a local councillor.
“I totally identify with pulling out of the EU and have no doubt whatsoever that the UK can survive outside the EU – the real markets are in the Far East and elsewhere now.
“I am not against immigration – I am very much in favour of controlled immigration which adds value to the economy.
“I think that UKIP are now the true party of protest because the Liberal Democrats have lost that role. UKIP are in the ascendancy and are pulling ahead of the Lib Dems – they are the third party in the UK.
“There is no doubt that the Tory Party and the Labour Party are not in touch with the people – Ed Miliband has not proved to be a leader who can touch the nerve of the British public; it is time for a new party.
“The British public need something new to buy into and that is what UKIP represents. I think that UKIP can continue to grow in popularity and provide a real alternative to the two main parties, who are going backwards.”
Mr James, who lives in Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire, said he had belonged to other political parties in the past but had never stood as an election candidate.
“A bit like Winston Churchill, I have changed parties to find the one that represents what I believe in. Tanworth in Arden is going to be a challenge because Tanworth is a Tory ward.
“I know the village well, I know their concerns and I am going to give it a good go. I have people in the village who are prepared to support me.”
Mr James described UKIP leader Nigel Farage as ‘very charismatic.’ “I think he touches people in a way that other people don’t. It may be that he appeals to some people’s beliefs that we do not want to encourage but generally he is a man who is in touch with the concerns of the British people.”
Mr James said extensive housing developments in the area and the knock-on effect on traffic were considerable concerns for local residents.
“Stratford is a Tory-dominated council and has become very complacent. It is a cosy cartel with a Tory MP who is not terribly connected with the interests of the community.”
In his election statement, Mr James says: “I am extremely mindful of local concerns about excessive estate developments, and the provision of adequate social housing.
“Increasing traffic problems in and around the village also need addressing, and the Tory-controlled council has displayed a complacent arrogance in either ignoring these issues or actually making them worse.”