Ukip has announced its culture secretary Peter Whittle will stand as the party's candidate for London Mayor in 2016. He will join fellow candidates Sadiq Khan for Labour, Caroline Pidgeon for the Liberal Democrats, Sian Berry for the Green Party and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant George Galloway for the Respect Party. Zac Goldsmith is also heavily tipped to be chosen as candidate for the Conservative Party, although he has yet to receive an official nomination.
Whittle is understood to have been chosen for the nomination despite the strong candidacy of Suzanne Evans, the deputy chair of the party. Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: "Peter has been an asset to Ukip for many years, and I am delighted to learn that the party has elected him as our candidate in the battle to become London Mayor."
Whittle has been Ukip's culture spokesman for the past two years. He stood at the general election in Eltham, south-east London. Like Khan, who is often referred to as the son of a bus driver by the Labour public relations machine, Ukip has made sure to emphasis Whittle's connection with the common man.
A statement on the Ukip website pointed out that he was born in Peckham, south-east London, and grew up in Shooters Hill. His father was a delivery driver at Smithfield Market, while his mother became a civil servant at the Ministry of Defence in Woolwich. He was a pupil at Roan Boys School in Blackheath, a grammar school he said "gave working class children like [me] a real chance in life".
Whittle studied at the University of Kent and spent much of the career that followed in the media as a television producer and director and then as a print journalist. In 2006, he founded independent think tank the New Culture Forum, of which he remains director.
Ukip also announced former Radio 1 DJ and writer of unofficial party anthem the Ukip Calypso Mike Reid will stand for election to the London Assembly. Evans will also stand for a place in the London Assembly. The Conservative Party's Boris Johnson, who was elected as an MP in May's general election, has been mayor since 2008.