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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
UKIP contender: Richard Suchorzewski

A self-styled "moderniser" committed to broadening UKIP's appeal, Richard Suchorzewski claims to have taken the lead in the race to be its next leader.

Richard Suchorzewski
Age: 42
Job: Retail, political lobbying
Family: Divorced, no children
Experience: Ex Tory activist, UKIP leader in Wales
Despite only being a UKIP member for two years he claims to have gathered more grass roots support than early favourite Nigel Farage.

A recent defector from the Conservatives, he has promised a more democratic style of leadership, with policies being formed through consultation with the membership.

He would also set up a "shadow cabinet" - something of a novelty in UKIP circles.

Mr Suchorzewski also makes much of the fact that he will be based in Britain, as opposed to Mr Farage who would continue to work in Brussels.

And he has pledged to improve the party's image with the under 40s and makes setting up a youth wing a top priority.

Media exposure

His supporters like to portray him as the man to drag UKIP out of its single issue "ghetto" and turn it into a more credible, modern party with broad appeal.

But his detractors claim he lacks any concrete policies - other than "liberation from the European Union".

There is also a question mark over his lack of frontline political experience - he may be UKIP's leader in Wales, but the party has barely registered on the political map there.

He has, however, lined up an impressive list of backers within the party, headed by former chairman Petrina Holdsworth.

Election result

Ex UKIP election candidate Rob McWhirter said: "If we don't serve our existing membership adequately, and reduce the churn of new members, no amount of swanning around TV studios or call centre recruitment will save us.

"Richard, in my opinion, is the only candidate realistically proposing to address this."

A Tory activist until 2004, Mr Suchorzewski contested the Vale of Glamorgan seat at the 2005 general election for UKIP, gaining just 1.8% of the vote. He was elected to UKIP's National Executive in 2006.

He worked in banking and insurance in London before moving back to his native Wales to work in retailing and political lobbying.

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