UKIP A Brief History
By Joe Mulhall | Wednesday, 13 March 2013
The history of what is now Britainís Ďfourth partyí is regularly portrayed as, ďsuch a torrent of plotting, denouncing, suing, counter-suing, shrieking, back-stabbing and cussing that one wonders how many of its members have retained any memory of why they signed up with the party in the first place.Ē
Yet despite its turbulent and fractious history Ukip are stronger than ever and on the rise. With the debate still raging over the nature of Ukip’s politics in the wake of the Ukip foster parent affair in Rotherham, and their impressive performance in the Eastleigh by-election, now is a good time to look back at the 20-year history of Britain’s largest fringe party.
Ukip’s earliest roots can be traced back as far as 1991 when the historian Alan Sked of the London School of Economics set up a small cross-party organisation known as the Anti-Federalist League to campaign against the Maastricht Treaty. The 1992 General Election saw the AFL stand twenty candidates but they failed to capture the attention of either the media or the public and lost all of their deposits.
Following the controversial passing of the Maastricht Treaty into law Sked and his associates decided that the only option was to campaign for complete withdrawal from the European Union. The vehicle for their new political ambitions, set up in 1993, was the United Kingdom Independence Party. However, despite divided public opinion over Europe the fledgling party struggled to grow while being overshadowed by James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party which occupied similar electoral ground.
As a result only one of the 183 candidates that stood in the 1997 General Election retained their deposit as the party clocked up just 103,817 votes. The poor election results were just the beginning of several turbulent months for the party as their leader Alan Sked resigned claiming, "they are racist and have been infected by the far-right". Sked was alluding to the damaging revelation that a key UKIP member and close ally of his, Mark Deavin, was actually a BNP infiltrator.
However, the fortunes of the party were to change when the Referendum Party folded following the death of James Goldsmith and Ukip benefitted from an influx of their supporters. The leadership of the party passed into the hands of Michael Holmes following Skeds departure and the long journey from a marginal fringe party to a serious political force began apace.
Ukip shocked many observers by receiving 7% of the vote and 3 MEP’s, one of which was the current leader Nigel Farage, at the 1999 European Parliament elections. Despite fierce criticism for the decision from former leader Alan Sked, the MEP’s decided to take up their seats in Brussels.
The big breakthrough came at the 2004 European Elections. Ukip won 12 MEP’s helped by a spate of high profile celebrity defections and a huge cash donation of nearly £1.5 million from the multi-millionaire donor Paul Sykes, which allowed them to plaster the country with advertising billboards. Famously, it was at these elections that the former Labour MP and TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk joined the party. In 2009 Ukip did even better winning 13 MEP’s by beating Labour into second place in the overall share of the vote with 2.49 million votes.
However, despite their impressive European election results they have struggled to gain ground in General Elections. At the 2010 election Ukip once again failed to win any seats with just 3.1% of the vote. However, since then the parties fortunes have been on an upward trajectory. Last years local elections saw Ukip win 13% of the vote in the constituencies that it contested putting significant pressure on the Coalition and ruffling Tory feathers.
They did even better in by-elections in Rotherham and Middleborough coming second in both and polling over 20%. Their best result to date came in last months Eastleigh by-election when they polled over 11,000 votes and beat the Conservatives into second place. Ukip’s electoral rise may have been slow but it has certainly been steady and it is not beyond the realms of possibility for them to win a seat at the 2015 General Election despite the “first-past-the-post” electoral system.
UKIP On Race and Immigration
In 2006 David Cameron controversially said Ukip was full of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists". However, following the Rotherham fostering row he rowed back a little on his earlier assessment but not far enough to satisfy Ukip’s leader Nigel Farage.
He has vociferously defended his party‘s membership this week claiming that Cameron, “alone in British politics today continues to throw this slur at us that because we believe in not having our law set in Europe and controlling our borders that somehow that is racist.” However, the assertion that Cameron is “alone” in his assessment is a wishful flight from reality.
It is true that Ukip openly trumpet that they are not a racist party and have expelled BNP infiltrators in the past. A cursory glance at the party’s policies on immigration can see that they are extreme but by no means openly racist. They demand an end to “mass, uncontrolled” immigration and more radically want to “End the active promotion of the doctrine of multiculturalism” and withdraw benefits from non-UK citizens.
At an institutional level any comparison with the chemical racism of groups such as the BNP or the NF is an exaggeration. Importantly the party is rooted in the democratic tradition and have never wavered from mainstream beliefs in the rule of law or due democratic process; something that cannot be said about the BNP.
However, while Ukip may not be a ‘racist party’ it is undeniable that they have a disproportionate number of racists in the party. Robert Ford, of Manchester University, told the Huffington Post:
In addition Matthew Goodwin’s research for HOPE not hate found,
A good example of Ukip ‘rallying a radical right base’ is their extreme anti-Mosque campaign in Dudley. Many observers were shocked at how extreme Ukip’s campaign literature was with some of it being more extreme than anything the BNP would put out publically.
However, Dudley is not an isolated example of Ukip extremism. A brief look back through the history of Ukip finds an alarming number of totally unacceptable links and widespread racism. The founding leader of UKIP, Alan Sked, has vocally denounced the party as racist. Shockingly he claimed that the current leader Nigel Farage once said to him, “We will never win the nigger vote. The nig-nogs will never vote for us”.
However, Sked is clearly bitter about his schism with the party and the motives behind his constant vociferous attacks might be questioned. That said, some racism from senior members is beyond question.
For example Kilroy-Silk, a former Ukip MEP, told the he Daily Express: “They [Muslims] are backward and evil and if it is racist to say so... then racist I must be – and happy and proud, to be so”. He also stated, “Moslems everywhere behave with equal savagery”. In addition Dr Richard North, Ukip’s former Research Director in the European Parliament described Spaniards as “rag-arsed dagos”.
Richard Corbett, a former Labour MEP, produced a pamphlet on Ukip in 2004 that received widespread press attention. In it he lists numerous alarming findings of racism, homophobia and sexism from senior Ukip members. Some of the more shocking revelations include:
Frank Maloney (UKIP candidate in the 2004 London mayoral election) commented that he would not be campaigning in Camden because there are “too many gays”. He said “I don’t want to campaign around gays... I don’t think they do a lot for society”.
Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP has suggested that paratroopers should “herd the immigrants together” and dump them on a “slow boat to – wherever”.
The report also shows the links between Ukip and the far-right:
Andrew Edwards (former Chairman, UKIP Bath branch, 2002-2003) was expelled from UKIP on 5 February 2004 for allegedly passing information to the BNP. He denies this and has since campaigned to expose links between UKIP and the BNP. He has stated: “In collaboration with other UKIP members and ex-members, [I have] uncovered information which we believe suggests a pact between the BNP and UKIP. The BNP has now admitted that there was indeed, an unofficial pact between them and UKIP”
John Brayshaw was exposed on 5 February 2004 as being simultaneously Chairman of UKIP’s Vale of York branch (since October 2003) and BNP National Treasurer (since 2000). According to Andrew Edwards, he was also UKIP-BNP “pact liaison officer for the north”. UKIP denied that they knew of his BNP links despite the fact that he stood as a BNP parliamentary candidate in Bradford North at the 2001.
Trevor Agnew (a former UKIP candidate in Darlington at the local elections in 1999 and a known BNP activist) was allowed to rejoin UKIP, despite previously being expelled from the party in 1999 because of his links with the BNP. In 2003 Agnew pledged support for the BNP: “I certainly will be supporting the Tyne and Wear drive for both the BNP and the UK Independence Party”.
Nigel Farage MEP has admitted meeting Dr Mark Deavin (the BNP’s then head of research who had briefly infiltrated UKIP as Research Director and NEC member to pass on information about its work to the BNP until being expelled from UKIP in May 1997) over lunch on 17 June 1997 at the latter’s request, to discuss his defection from UKIP to the BNP.
Dianne Carr - BNP candidate in Yorkshire and the Humber region at the 2004 European elections was a former UKIP parliamentary candidate in Bristol North West at the 2001 general election. Carr was a BNP candidate in the Stockwood ward of Bristol at the local council elections in May 2003.
Adam Champneys - BNP candidate in the South East region at the 2004 European elections was a former member of UKIP.
Brian Galloway - BNP lead candidate in the South East region at the 2004 European elections was a former UKIP parliamentary candidate in Crawley at the 2001 general election.
Dr Peter Lane - BNP candidate in the South East region at the 2004 European
elections was a former member of UKIP.
Dr Alan Patterson - BNP lead candidate in the North East region at the 2004 European elections was a former UKIP parliamentary candidate in Hexham at the 2001 general election.
Roger Robertson - BNP candidate in the South East region at the 2004 European elections was a former member of UKIP.
Matt Single - BNP lead candidate in the Eastern region at the 2004 European elections was a former member of UKIP.
Andrew Moffatt (former UKIP parliamentary candidate in Beaconsfield at the 2001 general election) was a member of the Young National Front from 1977-79.
Martyn Heale (Chairman, UKIP Thanet South branch since 2003) was a former National Front (NF) branch organiser in Hammersmith in the late 1970s and a NF candidate in the London borough of Hammersmith in the 1979 local elections. Heale later resigned from the NF and became Chairman of the West London branch of the far-Right, anti-immigration New Britain Party.
It must be acknowledged that Ukip has regularly taken swift action against far right members within their ranks. As a result many would like to claim that such links are all in the past and that the ‘closet racists’ that Cameron once mentioned are no longer party of modern Ukip. However, once again evidence does not bare this out. For example, Maggie Chapman, a UKIP election agent was caught posting racist jokes on twitter. Here are some of the worst:
Also, just last year Political Scrapbook exposed a Ukip candidate for comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf. Julia Gasper, a former Westminster candidate and council candidate said,
Also last year was the shocking revelation that Steve Moxon, Ukip’s candidate in Sheffield, had been dismissed from Ukip for stating,
Such comments are appalling and he was rightly expelled from the party.
Recent research shows that 80% of Ukip supporters were found not to have overtly racist views however that leaves 20% that do which considering their growing size has to be of concern. However, with so many examples of racism one is left wondering if there is a difference between a racist party and a party for racists.