The United Kingdom Independence Party, also known by the acronym UKIP (pronounced "you-kip", its followers affectionately known as "Kippers"), is a political party in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1993, it campaigns for British withdrawal from the European Union (EU). Its support-base is made up substantially of social conservative, traditional conservative and libertarian voters who are opposed to the surrender of British sovereignty. The current leader of UKIP is Nigel Farage, a traditionalist figure in British politics. It is also one of the fastest-growing British political parties; according to a YouTube interview with Farage in May 2015, the party has 47,000 members.
In the 2008 European elections UKIP came second, with 16.5% of the vote and 13 of the UK's 78 seats in the European Parliament. In the Parliamentary election of May 6th 2010, UKIP got 3.1% of the vote, a total of 917,232, an increase of 50% on the previous parliamentary election vote. However, owing to the electoral system, they still did not receive any MPs; therefore, the party is fervently in support for proportional representation, forging an unlikely alliance with the Green Party of England and Wales (an eco-socialist party) and the Liberal Democrats (an allegedly centrist party, although a significant proportion of its policies come from the social democratic – i.e. socialist – trend). UKIP has 2 members in the House of Lords.
Under the leadership of Nigel Farage, UKIP broadened its political agenda. It now has policies on tax, defence, the health service, education, electoral reform and constitutional reform.
UKIP attracts alienated voters especially on the right who are critical of the centralized and undemocratic structure of the EU. UKIP has endorsed a British centre-right economic agenda. It proposes a flat tax and opposes national identity cards. It is sceptical of the more extreme claims of AGW and critical of carbon-permits and other EU environmental policies as economically and environmentally harmful.
UKIP is frequently accused of being a racist party and associated with racist parties in the liberal media, such as the politically correct TV networks (such as the BBC) and newspapers (such as The Guardian). Most claims of UKIP being racist are defended by pointing to a couple of minor disgraced UKIP councillors or party members - these people have often been expelled from the party. UKIP membership is in fact open to all, regardless of ethnic origin, and in the 2010 and 2015 elections, UKIP fielded a significant number of candidates who are members of ethnic minorities.
In 2013, UKIP achieved a milestone in the local elections when 147 councillors were elected across the UK adding to the 50-60 councillors that were already in place. Despite claims that UKIP was a "protest vote" in the European elections due to their avid euroscepticism, UKIP won 12.9% of the popular vote in the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom.
However, due to the inconsistent electoral system in the United Kingdom, they received just 1 seat out of 650. It has less than 500 councillors out of 20,000 and 3 (out of 780) members of the House of Lords. Under a system of proportional representation, UKIP would have 82 seats, instead of just 1.
- Daniel, Mark. Cranks and Gadflies: The Story of UKIP (2005) 199pp excerpt and text search
- McKernan, Bethan. Here's how the election results would look under a proportional voting system The Independent. Published May 2015