Steven, 48, who lives near the city centre with his wife Fiona and young daughter, is in the running to take over from Nigel Farage who stepped down as leader after fulfilling his lifetime ambition to see Britain leave the European Union.
Elected in 2014, Mr Woolfe – one of three UKIP Euro MPs representing the North West – acts as party spokesman on migration and financial affairs with regular appearances on Newsnight and Question Time.
Mr Woolfe, who launched his leadership bid at The British Academy in London on Thursday, July 14, told The Chronicle UKIP had been ‘much more’ than an anti-EU party for ‘some time’. His big push is on promoting ‘social mobility’.
He said: “Our manifesto during the general election talked about the need for more housing and social housing, mental health with respect to the armed forces and now we need to broaden our appeal to people who have been left behind and have no stake in society.”
Mr Woolfe added: “I am concerned at the lack of social mobility, that people are having difficulty getting their children into schools, the queues for hospitals and doctors’ surgeries and the way mental health is regarded as a second rate illness in terms of the health service.”
He says The Labour Party – the party traditionally viewed as supporting society’s most vulnerable – had been ‘navel-gazing’ and ‘ignoring its core voters’.
“Many Labour voters wanted to leave the EU, they wanted controlled immigration and the parliamentary party is far removed from those views. The parliamentary party is even distanced from its own members and wants to get rid of their own leader whom the members overwhelmingly voted for.”
Originally from a single parent Labour-voting family in Moss Side, Manchester, when it had a reputation for being poverty-stricken and crime ridden, Mr Woolfe later moved to Burnage and went to the same primary school as Noel Gallagher who was in the same class as his brother David.
The former City lawyer feels he is well placed to promote the ‘British dream’ as someone who succeeded despite the disadvantages of coming from a working class and mixed race background; he has Irish ancestry on his mum’s side and his late father was British with black American heritage.
“I believe we are one of the best nations in the world. And I am living proof as someone from a mixed race and working class environment who has been able to rise through the ranks and potentially become the leader of the third biggest party in Britain.”
As an interesting aside, Mr Woolfe has talents in other areas having played semi-professional football in his youth and has a half brother in footballer Nathan Woolfe who is on the books at Connah’s Quay Nomads having previously played for Bolton Wanderers and Wrexham. And he reached the height of cool when he was crowned Manchester’s first break dance champion in 1984 at the age of 17.
Mr Woolfe praised UKIP’s erstwhile leader Nigel Farage, with whom he shared a platform in Chester last year, who has decided not to endorse any of his potential successors.
“What you can say about Nigel Farage is that he is one of the most charismatic and important politicians over the last 30 years,” said Mr Woolfe. “We got 4m votes in the general election, we were the leading party in the European elections, we’ve got one MP and hundreds of councillors. We helped to win the referendum, which was incredibly important, and Nigel always said it was his life’s work to get our country back.”
He said Mr Farage would now concentrate on making sure the Brexit decision is not diluted by ‘the elite’.
A victim of racist bullying when he was younger, Mr Woolfe condemns the small number of racist incidents aimed at people of different nationalities and colour in the wake of ‘out’ vote. “That’s not what the campaign was about. We have always respected our European friends,” he said.
And he is also disappointed those who voted Leave have been branded ‘old, stupid or attacked for being racist’.
Talking about the future post-Brexit, an upbeat Mr Woolfe foresees an ‘outward-looking, global-trading Britain’ that is ‘friends with the rest of the world’.
“I believe Britain will be freer and more prosperous and more at ease with itself,” he said.