United Kingdom Independence Party
The United Kingdom Independence Party, also known by the acronym UKIP, is a British political party. Founded in 1993, it campaigns for British withdrawal from the European Union (EU). Its support-base is made up substantially of right-wing voters disaffected from other parties and fearful of Europe and immigration.
In the British Parliament, UKIP has one representative, Bob Spink, in Commons (having won only 2.4% of the vote in the 2005 general election) and 2 members in the House of Lords. However it did well and won 16% of the vote and 12 of the UK's 78 seats in the European Parliament in the 2004 European elections.
UKIP's present leader, Nigel Farage, is attempting to present the party as having a broad political agenda extending beyond withdrawal from the EU. Consistently with this aim, he is seeking to shorten the party's name to "the Independence Party".
UKIP attracts alienated voters especially on the right who fear Britain is being swallowed up by Europe and must fight back. Its bitter rival was the neo-Nazi British National Party, which has faded away in the polls as a respectable image helped UKIP grow. UKIP has endorsed a libertarian economic agenda. It proposes a flat tax of 33% and opposes national identity cards. It rejects environmentalism.
UKIP is a protest party that sometimes does poorly in elections for the British Parliament but does well in elections to the European Parliament, which it denounces as the enemy to Britain. Polls in mid-May 2009 show it may get 17% of the vote in the June 2009 elections.
- Daniel, Mark. Cranks and Gadflies: The Story of UKIP (2005) 199pp excerpt and text search
- Margetts, H. et al. "Latent Support for the Far-Right in British Politics: The BNP and UKIP in the 2004 European and London Elections" (2004) scholarly paper online edition