UKIP, the UK Independence Party is a right-wing political party that was established in 1993. Their views are often seen as being more radical than the other political parties, like their immigration policies and proposed EU referendum.
There is constant controversy surrounding UKIP due to its proposal of radical changes to immigration, such as implementing a five year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement and disallowing immigrants to apply for public housing and benefits until they have paid tax for five years. Some argue they are racist, as they are exploiting immigrants’ rights. UKIP deny that, claiming they are not against race but against an ‘open-door’ policy.
Nigel Farage stated that in the past 10 years, there has been more migration into Britain than between 1066 and 1950. Anna Soubry, the defence minister, said that Nigel Farage was ‘scaremongering’ and putting ‘fear in people’s hearts’ with his anti-immigration rhetoric and ‘prejudice’. Farage hit back at Soubry’s remarks by calling them ‘abusive’ and it showed how the Conservatives were ‘terrified’ about the rise of UKIP. Its policy to end ‘mass uncontrolled immigration’ certainly seems like a popular policy at the time of recession, it seems inevitable that UKIP’s electoral power will begin to grow.
UKIP are most known for their belief in withdrawing from the EU, this view is not held by any other mainstream political party, who have all adopted a more centrist position towards the EU. Farage wants an ‘amicable divorce’ from the European Union, and Britain will only maintain trading links with its neighbouring countries and end its membership. The policy seems to have wide support amongst British voters and crucially amongst leading Conservative MP’s and members.
So, how many votes have UKIP secured? At local elections, they have made steady and significant ground with 227 UKIP councillors. However this is more symbolic, the Conservatives have 8,550 and Labour have 8,151 councillors respectively. But it is at the EU Parliamentary elections that they have made the most significant progress, with 11 out of 73 UK seats, and not far behind with 13 seats are Labour and with 12 seats are the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives still have the largest share. UKIP can be seen in many ways as a pressure group, attempting to use elections to pressure political parties and in particular the Conservatives into a more anti-Eu position.
However, UKIP have not actually won any seats in the Houses of Commons, yet. With the existing electoral system: first past the post, it looks improbable that they will, as they would have to damage a large majority largely from Conservative constituencies. Moreover, they would need a large concentration of voters in a particular constituency in order to win at least one seat. Although they have 30,000 members, many view the party to have incorporated racists and fascists. Former UKIP member Chris Pain was found to have posted alleged racist comments on Facebook and was expelled from the party in September. In the same month of Pain’s expulsion, UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended claims about his schooldays after Channel 4 claimed to have a letter from his teachers from 1981, describing him as a ‘fascist’ and a ‘bully’. In August, MEP Godfrey Bloom was filmed on camera saying British aid shouldn’t be sent to ‘Bongo, Bongo Land’, referring to third-world countries, however later regretted his remarks. All these examples may show that members of UKIP have closet racist views.
In the next general election, Nigel Farage claims that by 2015, UKIP membership will be the third highest in the country. He also says: UKIP is still ‘on course’ to be a significant political force in the 2015 general election despite a shambolic conference, overshadowed by Godfrey Bloom’s comments about women.
UKIP will continue to attract support due to the present economic climate, public opposition towards immigration and anti-EU sentiments. With their sights on next years EU parliament elections and the 2015 general election UKIP may still ‘cause an earthquake in British politics’.