United Kingdom Independence Party

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The United Kingdom Independence Party (commonly known as UKIP, Template:PronEng) is a British political party. Its principal aim is the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. UKIP currently has 10 seats in the European Parliament and two in the House of Lords. It also has around 30 local councillors on principal authorities, town and parish councils. The party has around 16,700 members.[1]

The party's policy is that the United Kingdom "shall again be governed by laws made to suit its own needs by its own Parliament, which must be directly and solely accountable to the electorate of the UK".[2] Other aspects of policy include promises to reduce taxation, the preservation of the pound sterling, promises to be tough on crime, and tighter controls on immigration.

In the 2004 European elections, UKIP received 2.7 million votes (16.8% of the national vote), gaining twelve seats in the European Parliament. However, in the 2005 General Election, the party received only 618,000 votes (2.38% of the vote).


Early years

UKIP was founded in 1993, by Alan Sked and other members of the all-party Anti-Federalist League. Its central aim was to seek the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The new party attracted many from the anti-European wing of the Conservative Party, which was split on the European question after the pound was forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 and the struggle over ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. UKIP candidates stood in the 1997 general election, but were overshadowed by James Goldsmith's Referendum Party. After the election, Sked resigned the leadership and left the party which was, he said, 'doomed to remain on the political fringes'. However, Goldsmith's death soon after the election precipitated the dissolution of the Referendum Party, with a resulting influx of new UKIP supporters. The leadership election was won by millionaire businessman Michael Holmes, and in the 1999 elections to the European Parliament UKIP surprised commentators by picking up three seats and 7% of the vote. In that election, Nigel Farage (South East England), Jeffrey Titford (East of England), and Michael Holmes (South West England) were elected.

Over the following months there was a power struggle between the leader, Michael Holmes, and the party's National Executive Committee (NEC). This was partly due to Holmes making a speech which was perceived to call for greater powers for the European Parliament against the European Commission. In a stormy meeting, ordinary party members forced the resignation of both Holmes and the entire NEC. Holmes resigned from the party itself in March 2000. There was a legal battle when he tried to continue as an independent MEP until resigning from the European Parliament in December 2002, when he was replaced by Graham Booth, the second candidate on the UKIP list in South West England.

Jeffrey Titford was narrowly elected to the vacant leadership, and succeeded in healing many of the wounds left by the previous infighting.

2001 General Election

UKIP put up candidates in more than 420 seats in the 2001 general election, coming fifth in terms of votes cast (but with just 1.5% of the vote) and failing to win any representation at Westminster. It also failed to break through in the elections to the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly, despite those elections being held under proportional representation. In 2002 Titford stood down as party leader, but continued to sit as a UKIP MEP. He was replaced as leader by Roger Knapman.


In late 2004, reports in the mainstream UK press speculated on if or when former Labour Party MP and chat show host Robert Kilroy-Silk would take control of the party. These reports were heightened by Kilroy-Silk's speech at the UKIP party conference in Bristol on 2 October 2004, in which he called for the Conservative Party to be "killed off" (following UKIP's forcing the Conservatives into fourth place in Hartlepool).

Interviewed by Channel 4 television, Kilroy-Silk did not deny having ambitions to lead the party, but underlined that Roger Knapman would lead it into the next general election. However, the next day, on Breakfast with Frost, he criticised Knapman's leadership. After further disagreement with the leadership, on 27 October 2004 Kilroy-Silk resigned the UKIP whip in the European Parliament. Initially, he remained a member, while seeking a bid for the party leadership. However, this was not successful, and Kilroy-Silk resigned completely from UKIP on 20 January 2005, calling it a "joke". Two weeks later, he founded his own party, Veritas, taking several UKIP members, including both London Assembly members, with him. Kilroy-Silk has subsequently resigned from Veritas.

2006 leadership election

In October 2005, Petrina Holdsworth resigned as Chairman of UKIP and from the party's National Executive Committee. She was replaced as Chairman "on an interim basis" by the party's former leader, Jeffrey Titford MEP. In December 2005, David Campbell-Bannerman, a former Conservative, became the new party chairman, appointed by the party leader, Roger Knapman MEP. Knapman's four-year term as leader ended in June 2006, triggering a leadership contest that saw four challengers (Richard Suchorzewski, David Campbell-Bannerman, David Noakes and Nigel Farage), from which Farage emerged as victor on 12 September 2006.

Farage's stated intention is to broaden public perception of UKIP beyond merely being a party seeking to get the UK out of the EU, to one of being a free market party broadly standing for traditional conservative and libertarian values.

Proposed change of name

It was announced on 5 February 2007 that UKIP intends to change its name to Independence Party in a bid to attract Conservative voters. This change will be subject to a postal ballot of members, and would have to be accepted by the Electoral Commission under the Registration of Political Parties Act.[3]


Although the UKIP's original raison d'être was, without a doubt, the EU, it has now expanded from being a single-issue party to developing a full domestic agenda, starting with a wide-ranging review and the establishment of a policy development group. UKIP has now produced detailed policy documents on taxation [4] and education [5].

UKIP also opposes the extension of state funding for political parties. Its economic stance is based what it claims to be the need for much lower taxation in order to compete internationally, a position which has been reinforced since the election of Nigel Farage as leader in September 2006.

On Europe

UKIP contends that the EU is corrupt, that it is undemocratic, that Britain's membership is very expensive, and that Britain's sovereignty is diluted by being part of a large bloc. In particular, it perceives the latter issue as being so fundamental a problem that only complete withdrawal from the Union can address it. For this reason, the aim of British withdrawal from the EU is written into UKIP's constitution. In line with this, one of UKIP's political goals is to break what it sees as the pro-EU consensus among the three established parties, and prevent the introduction of the euro and the adoption of a European constitution.

ID Cards

UKIP is against the planned introduction of identity cards, believing them to be ineffective as a way of combating fraud and terrorism, and an infringement of individual liberty. In December 2004 UKIP affiliated to the anti-ID card campaign, No2ID. Concern for civil liberties also led UKIP to oppose the Civil Contingencies Act 2004[6], which gives additional powers to the UK Home Secretary in broadly defined "emergency situations". UKIP's Jeffrey Titford MEP condemned the bill as "totalitarian". [7]

Devolution and Unionism

Although UKIP is strongly opposed to the loss of powers to the EU, as a strong supporter of the Union it argues that, within the UK itself, power should rest in Westminster. It therefore both opposes the notion of a devolved English parliament and argues that the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies should be abolished, with all parliamentary powers returning to Westminster.

Climate change

UKIP believed that the Climate Change Bill, published by the Labour Government in March 2007, reflected a failure to devise a viable plan for alternative sources of energy to replace fossil fuels: it considered that the Bill was 'deeply misguided'.

UKIP argues in favour of the expansion of nuclear power for reasons of energy security as well as to cut carbon emissions. In line with American policy, it does not think large-scale cuts of carbon emissions are necessary. It also argues that plans to invest in wind power are uneconomic.[8]

Electoral performance 2004-2007

UKIP's first electoral success was the election of three MEPs in 1999, and it made further advances in 2004. Although it increased its share of the vote in both the 2001 General Election and 2005 General Election, it did not achieve the same levels of vote as in those elections to the European Parliament.

UKIP's expectations were high before the 2004 European Parliament election, with a number of opinion polls – starting with one from YouGov - showed them on course to beat the Liberal Democrats and pick up a dozen MEPs. The prediction proved accurate, with UKIP winning 16.8% of the vote and taking third place nationally with 12 seats. UKIP won seats in eight regions, taking votes from all three major political parties. It came second, ahead of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, in four regions: South West, South East, Eastern and East Midlands. In the East Midlands region UKIP came within a percentage point of being top of the poll. UKIP received assistance in coordinating its 2004 election campaign from Dick Morris, formerly Bill Clinton's campaign advisor who has since emerged as an advocate of US unilateralism and an opponent of the EU.

The party had hoped to sustain its momentum in the 2005 General Election, but despite fielding 495 candidates, the party failed to win any seats at Westminster. At the general election, UKIP gained 618,000 votes, or 2.4% of the total votes cast (an increase of 220,000 votes/0.9% from its result in the 2001 general election). Although this may be regarded as respectable for a small party, and sufficient to place it fourth in terms of total votes cast behind the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Democrats polled, as is customary, in excess of 20% of the total vote cast. UKIP's best result on election night was in Boston & Skegness, where their candidate Richard Horsnell came third with 9.6% of the vote.

In the first parliamentary election test of 2006, UKIP came eighth out of nine candidates in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election on 9 February 2006, and their candidate lost his deposit, polling only 208 votes (0.6%).

In the 2006 English local elections, UKIP won its first borough council seat in Hartlepool when Stephen Allison was elected to serve as Councillor for the St. Hilda Ward; however, a councillor in Wirral who had recently defected to UKIP from the Conservatives failed to be re-elected for her new party, so UKIP's overall net gain was zero. UKIP also beat Labour into fourth place in the Bromley and Chislehurst by-election in June 2006. The UKIP candidate, Nigel Farage, came third with 8.1% of the vote, against Labour's 6.6%.

In February 2007, Henry Reilly, a Ulster Unionist Party councillor in Newry and Mourne defected to UKIP. He subsequently stood as a UKIP candidate in the Assembly election for the South Down constituency, their first-ever candidate in Northern Ireland. He polled 1,229 votes, 2.7% of the poll.

In the May local elections UKIP fielded its highest number of candidates, just under a thousand. Six UKIP councillors were up for re-election in the 2007 Local Elections. Four lost their seats, two were re-elected and three new seats were won, leaving the party with a net loss of one councillor. [9]

In the regional list vote for the Welsh Assembly Election the party polled 38,490 votes, 3.9% of the total, an increase of 9,063 votes from the 2003 election when they polled 3.5% of the total. In the Scottish Parliament elections the party polled 8,197 votes, 0.4% of the total, a fall of 3,772 votes from the 2003 election when they polled 0.6% of the total.

On 22 May 2007 UKIP announced that a Conservative Councillor in the London Borough of Sutton had defected to the party over the issue of the Conservatives' perceived lack of support for grammar schools.[10] On 19 July 2007, Dr. K.T. Rajan polled 285 votes (0.8%) in the Ealing Southall by-election coming 6th out of 12 candidates. Toby Horton polled 536 votes (1.9%)in the Sedgefield by-election held on the same day, coming 6th out of 11 candidates.

Relationship with other parties

The Conservatives

UKIP is often seen as a "Tory pressure group", whose main aim is to persuade the Conservative Party to support withdrawal from the European Union. Many prominent members of UKIP are former members of the Conservative Party, such as former UKIP leader Roger Knapman; in addition, some of the staff at Conservative Central Office are former UKIP candidates.[Citation Needed]

Although UKIP did not come close to winning any seats at the 2005 general election, they polled well enough that their votes, if added to the Conservative candidates totals constituency by constituency, would have led to Conservative majorities in 22 more seats (13 of which were won by Labour, 9 by the Liberal Democrats). This has led to UKIP being criticised for preventing the election of eurosceptic Conservative MPs. UKIP counter by saying that they will not oppose Conservatives who support the Better Off Out campaign. A recent ConservativeHome survey revealed that 43% of surveyed members of the Conservative Party felt that UKIP was the closest party to their views (apart from the Conservative Party itself)[11], with 66% either supporting or sympathising with the Better Off Out campaign. 6 Conservative MPs have signed the Better Off Out petition.

In April 2006, Conservative Party leader David Cameron called UKIP members "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" while talking on LBC radio in London after a question about UKIP using the Freedom of Information Act to force the disclosure of donors. UKIP demanded an apology for the "closet racists" remark and threatened legal action for slander, although this was later dropped, on the grounds that to sue the party would have to prove loss, and the comment had actually had a positive effect for UKIP. Conservative MP Bob Spink criticised his leader's remarks, as did the pro-Conservative The Daily Telegraph. [12]

In April 2007 an undercover journalist was found to be spying on the UK Independence Party. Tom Harper, a journalist on the Sunday Telegraph, used his middle name to try to delude the party into thinking he was a supporter, but according to UKIP still kept his real name on his voicemail and forgot to use his fake e-mail address. They claim that they initially thought he was a plant and played him along by feeding him "laughable made-up stories", but once they found out that he was a journalist, they threw him out. UKIP described the journalist as the "Worst plant since giant hogweed".[13]

Defection of Conservative Peers to UKIP

On 9 January 2007, two former Conservative peers defected from the Conservative Party to the UKIP. Lords Pearson and Willoughby de Broke joined the UKIP as they felt the Conservative Party was not producing policy to support their beliefs. They had previously had the Conservative whip withdrawn when they had encouraged voters to support UKIP. Other high-profile Conservatives have defected to UKIP, but this is the first example of sitting parliamentarians doing so. On 20 January 2007 the Earl of Dartmouth, also a former Tory peer, defected.[14]

Far-right parties

UKIP's constitution contains a clause guaranteeing that the party will not discriminate on the grounds of race and will be non-sectarian, and the party's rules require all candidates to declare that they have no past or present links with far-right organisations.

It has been a stated policy of the British National Party (BNP) to "eliminate" UKIP, as they perceive that UKIP's existence prevents them from capitalising on the issue of EU membership. The BNP has infiltrated UKIP in the past, notably in the cases of Mark Deavin, a UKIP head office researcher (hired by the party founder Alan Sked) who was exposed as a BNP agent in 1997, and John Brayshaw in 2004. [15] The aim appears simply to have been to damage UKIP.

Minority members of UKIP

The first ethnic-minority candidate to represent UKIP in a parliamentary by-election was Ashwinkumar Tanna, a pharmacist who had previously been an independent candidate for Mayor of London. He represented UKIP in the Tottenham by-election, 2000; his campaign, which called for British withdrawal from the EU and fairer treatment for immigrants.

Perhaps the best-known black member of UKIP is former TV chef Rustie Lee, who stood as a candidate in the 2005 general election and also appeared in the party's election broadcast that year. The most senior black member of the UKIP leadership is Delroy Young, another general election candidate, who was elected to the party's NEC in 2006 (coming 2nd out of 46 candidates). UKIP's only Muslim local councillor to date was Mohammed Yaqub, originally elected as a Conservative to Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council. He and a colleague defected to UKIP in 2004 but were defeated in their re-election bids a few months later.

Current representatives

UKIP has two working peers in the House of Lords, who joined the party in January 2007 after defecting from the Conservative Party. Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Willoughby de Broke will form a new grouping within the House of Lords to actively seek to encourage more Lords to defect to the new UKIP group.[16] UKIP has about nine district councillors and seventeen town/parish councillors. Although the party does not provide a list of councillors, an unofficial list is maintained on the British Democracy Forum. [17]

Ashley Mote, who was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for UKIP in 2004 but had the party whip withdrawn within days, joined the far-right Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty grouping in the European Parliament, alongside parties like the French National Front. Mote, who was elected for the South East England constituency, had the UKIP whip removed on 15 July 2004, because he had not informed them previously of an imminent court case involving housing benefit fraud. He was subsequently made to leave the party and is currently serving a 9-month jail sentence for several counts of fraud.[18] On 28 February 2007 UKIP suspended Tom Wise due to his being under investigation by OLAF (the European Anti Fraud Office)[19].

The remaining MEPs are:

East Midlands Derek Clark
East of England Jeffrey Titford
London Gerard Batten
North West England John Whittaker
South East England Nigel Farage
South West England
Graham Booth, Roger Knapman
West Midlands Mike Nattrass
Yorkshire and the Humber Godfrey Bloom
East of England Tom Wise (currently suspended)

Leaders of the UK Independence Party since 1993

Eurosceptics in the European Parliament

In 2004, 37 MEPs from the UK, Poland, Denmark and Sweden founded a new European Parliament group called Independence and Democracy from the old Europe of Democracies and Diversities (EDD) group. The main goals of this group are to reject the Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe and to oppose further European integration[Citation Needed]. Some delegations within the group, including UKIP, advocate the complete withdrawal of their country from the EU. The group's leaders are Nigel Farage of UKIP and Jens-Peter Bonde of Denmark.

See also

External links


Template:British political partiescy:Plaid Annibyniaeth y DU de:United Kingdom Independence Party es:Partido por la Independencia del Reino Unido fr:Parti pour l'indépendance du Royaume-Uni kw:UKIP pl:Partia Niepodległości Zjednoczonego Królestwa simple:United Kingdom Independence Party sv:United Kingdom Independence Party zh:英國獨立黨