WITH the general election just four months away, The Bolton News is running a series of features with candidates vying for your vote. Here, political reporter Elaine O'Flynn speaks to UKIP candidate for Bolton West Bob Horsefield.

THE UKIP candidate for Bolton West accepts he faces a tough fight if he is successful in May.

But with just 92 votes between Labour and Conservatives at the 2010 vote, politics newbie Bob Horsefield is a man to be taken seriously.

The 62-year-old lighting technician, who has worked on films and TV series including Game of Throne, is a former Labour supporter and union member who said he decided to join UKIP because of the party's "no-nonsense approach" to politics.

It is difficult to pin him down on specific policies — because, he explains, the party’s election manifesto will not be released until March — but the Horwich resident says he is committed to representing the interests of the people of Bolton West.

The father-of-three, who is funding his own election fight, said: “There is always a chance I will win, because public opinion changes on a daily basis — although in the polls we are losing a bit of ground.

“I wanted to stand to give people a chance the opportunity to vote for UKIP.

“If you don’t try to change anything, nothing will change.”

“It is going to be a really difficult seat — Chris Green for the Conservatives is a good candidate, and Julie Hilling is not a bad MP, to be fair.

“UKIP generally have a common sense, equal approach on a lot of issues.

“The biggest problem we have in government is waste. And I think that is also what is happening with the NHS — they keep throwing money at it but not addressing the problems.

“We have to look at the way GPs are run. People are actually using the A&E as the first port of call, and how we tackle that is up for discussion.”

Abuse of the sick pay system in the NHS also needs to be addressed, he adds, and he would welcome the return of auxiliary nurses within the health care system.

Mr Horsefield adds that millions would be saved by coming out of Europe, and dropping the foreign aid budget to address the national debt.

“I would bring Britain off the world stage for two years — completely stop foreign aid until we fill our own coffers”, he explained.

“We are giving money to China — how does that work?

“I’m supportive of emergency funding, if there was a natural disaster for example, but it doesn’t work sending money overseas and giving foreign dictators and despots money.”

On the big issue of Europe, Mr Horsefield says he voted for the European Economic Community in 1975, but said the organisation has morphed beyond what the British people voted for.

“I voted for in the referendum, it was a good deal at the time,” he said.

“We were trading with the Commonwealth and all over the world.

“But I didn’t agree with a federal Europe, which has taken our constitutional rights away.”

He denies UKIP would reduce worker rights, adding: “I identify as a ‘socialist’ – we are all social animals.

“There’s no way I’m going to eradicate workers’ rights — I have fought long and hard for the working conditions and there’s no way I’d give them back.

“The health and safety things have been fantastic, but that started in this country. We can build on them, but we don’t need to be dictated too.”

Locally, he believes there is a problem with integration within Bolton that is not being addressed.

“Being a socialist society, we are inclusive and everybody is welcome” he said.

“But British people, they feel that the Muslim community doesn’t integrate say, as well as the Polish or Eastern Europeans.

“There is not many people invited into mosques, while they are welcome in our churches.

“It doesn’t seem to work the other way, and it is about integration. I would love for it to be inclusive and we respect each others views, but it has to work both ways.”

Tomorrow: We speak to Bolton West Lib Dem candidate Andrew Martin.