A chat with Peter Whittle

This is part of V4CE's ongoing interview series with candidates from a range of political parties. We do not endorse any political party, or necessarily the views of Peter Whittle

 

The UKIP candidate for London Mayor has argued that having more Grammar Schools would increase social mobility for BAME people.

Speaking to Vocie4Change as part of our mayoral interview series, Peter Whittle highlighted UKIP’s stance on Grammar Schools as a key reason that he joined the party.

“I was a Grammar School boy,” he says, “from a working class family. And UKIP is the only party who stands up for Grammar Schools without apology. For people who were not born in the 1960s social mobility has virtually ground to a halt now, and it’s no mistake that that happened at the same time as Grammar Schools going.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people from black churches, from Asian groups too, and the level of aspiration in those communities is very high. There is a sense of wanting their children to get on, and of thinking that education is a good thing. So yes, state schools based on merit will particularly help those groups.”

But he points to immigration from Eastern Europe as another key issue which particularly harms ethnic minorities.

“The problem is that Black, Asian and ethnic communities are particularly hurt by uncontrolled migration from Eastern Europe. It pushes wages down for everybody, makes living in London harder, and particularly harms those who are further down the economic scale.”

Whittle only joined UKIP three years ago, when he became their culture spokesman. He founded the New Culture Forum, a think tank which aims to challenge political correctness and cultural relativism in British society.

Unsurprisingly, Whittle is deeply sceptical about multiculturalism.

“It might have been well meaning,” he says, “but multiculturalism has caused more problems than it has solved. Multiculturalism is not about the amazing different restaurants and music and sheer cultural diversity in London. We are a multi-ethnic society, and happily so. Multiculturalism is the doctrine which says that you don’t have to integrate, and it has led to segregated divided societies.”

While Whittle’s views on immigration, the EU and multiculturalism are perfectly in line with UKIP politics, there are elements of him as a candidate which go against the UKIP stereotype.

An article in MayorWatch about the first mayoral debate described his answers as “so mainstream that anyone coming in half way through could have been forgiven for thinking he was the Tory or Labour candidate.”

This is how Whittle comes across: self-deprecating, calm, and at times almost centrist on many issues.

He is also gay, which goes against most people’s perception of UKIP candidates (although it is unclear if statistics support this perception).

Indeed LGBT UKIPers were notoriously told that they were not welcome at the London Pride march last year, something which made Whittle very upset.

“It’s very illiberal,” he says, “and it comes from a different time when it was assumed that you had to look at the world a certain way or you couldn’t be part of the gay rights movement. I’ve never come across homophobia in UKIP, and the decision to ban us was just disgraceful.”

 

Whittle is a huge outsider to become the next mayor of London, but every vote for him will count towards UKIP’s representation on the Greater London Assembly, so he will be trying to garner as much support as possible.

You can listen to the interview in full here (it gets interesting after the first 20 seconds of us discussing the microphone).

Ben Andrew