UK Independence Party

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UK Independence Party
Abbreviation UKIP
Leader Nigel Farage MEP
Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall MEP
Chairman Steven Crowther
Founded 3 September 1993[1]
Headquarters Lexdrum House
Newton Abbot, Devon
Youth wing Young Independence
Membership  (April 2015) Increase 45,021[2]
Ideology Euroscepticism[3]
Right-wing populism[4]

British unionism[5]
Economic liberalism[6]
Political position Right-wing[7][8]
European affiliation Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe
European Parliament group Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy
Colours          Purple, yellow
House of Commons
2 / 650
House of Lords
3 / 754
European Parliament
23 / 73
Local government[9]
369 / 20,565
Northern Ireland Assembly
1 / 108

The UK Independence Party, commonly known as UKIP (/ˈjuːkɪp/), is a Eurosceptic[10][11] and right-wing populist[4] political party in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1993 by members of the Anti-Federalist League with the primary objective of securing the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. The party describes itself as a "democratic, libertarian party".[12]

The party is led by Nigel Farage, with deputy leader Paul Nuttall. UKIP has two Members of Parliament, three representatives in the House of Lords and twenty-three Members of the European Parliament, making it the largest UK party in the European Parliament. In October 2014, UKIP reported a membership of over 40,000.[13]

The party made its first significant breakthroughs in the 2013 local elections, when it came fourth in the number of council seats won and third in nationwide vote share,[14][15] and in the 2014 European elections when UKIP received the most votes, the first time for over a century that a party other than Labour or the Conservatives won a United Kingdom-wide election.[16]


Founding and early years

A UKIP campaign bus, 2004

UKIP was founded in 1993 by Alan Sked and other members of the cross-party Anti-Federalist League, a political party set up in November 1991 with the aim of fielding candidates opposed to the Maastricht Treaty and the primary objective being the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union.[17] It attracted a few members of the Eurosceptic 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.[18]

After the election, Sked resigned from the leadership and left the party because, he said, it contained members who "are racist and have been infected by the far-right"[19] and was "doomed to remain on the political fringes".[20] However, Goldsmith died soon after the election and the Referendum Party was dissolved, with a resulting influx of new UKIP supporters. The leadership election was won by the millionaire businessman Michael Holmes, and in the 1999 elections to the European Parliament UKIP gained 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 Holmes and the party's National Executive Committee (NEC). This was partly due to Holmes making a speech perceived as calling for greater powers for the European Parliament against the European Commission. Ordinary party members forced the resignation of both Holmes and the entire NEC, and Jeffrey Titford was subsequently elected leader. After Holmes resigned from the party itself in March 2000,[21] there was a legal battle when he tried to continue as an independent MEP until he resigned from the European Parliament in December 2002. Holmes was then replaced by Graham Booth, the second candidate on the UKIP list in South West England. 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 2004 UKIP reorganised itself nationally as a private company limited by guarantee, with the legal name of United Kingdom Independence Party Limited, though branches remained as unincorporated associations.[22][23]

2004 to 2012

Nigel Farage, leader of the party, 2010–present; previously from 2006–2009

In the 2004 European elections UKIP came third with 12 MEPs being elected. In the London Assembly elections the same year, UKIP won two London Assembly seats. Later that year, the press speculated on if or when the UKIP MEP and chat-show host Robert Kilroy-Silk would take control of the party. On Breakfast with Frost, he criticised Knapman's leadership,[24] and after further disagreement he resigned the UKIP whip in the European Parliament on 27 October 2004,[25] resigning completely from UKIP in January 2005.[26] Two weeks later, he founded his own party, Veritas, taking a number of UKIP members, including both of the London Assembly members, with him.[27]

In the 2005 general election, UKIP fielded 495 candidates and gained 618,000 votes, or 2.3% of the total votes cast in the election, but did not win a seat in the House of Commons. This result placed it fourth in terms of votes cast nationally.[28] Its best performance was in Boston & Skegness, coming third with 9.6% of the vote.[29] On 12 September 2006, Farage was elected leader of UKIP with 45% of the vote, 20% ahead of his nearest rival.

On 28 March 2009, the Conservative Party's biggest-ever donor, Stuart Wheeler, donated £100,000 to UKIP after criticising David Cameron's stance towards the Lisbon treaty and the European Union.[30] The 2009 European elections resulted in UKIP coming second with 16.5% of the vote and 13 MEPs, an increase of one MEP and 0.3% in the share of the vote compared to the 2004 European Elections.[31]

In September 2009, Nigel Farage announced that he would be resigning as leader of the party in order to stand for Parliament against the Speaker, John Bercow.[32] The leadership election was won by Lord Pearson with just under half of the 9,900 votes cast[33]

UKIP fielded 572 candidates in the 2010 general election.[34] On the morning of polling day, Farage was injured while flying as a passenger in a light aircraft which crashed near Brackley, Northamptonshire.[35] In the election the party polled 3.1% of the vote (919,471 votes), an increase of 0.9% on the 2005 general election, but took no seats.[36] This made it the party with the largest percentage of the popular vote to win no seats in the election.[37] UKIP came third in four constituencies, including Farage's.[38][39][40][41][42]

Lord Pearson resigned as leader in August 2010,[43] and Farage was re-elected in the leadership election with more than 60% of the vote.[44]

In the May 2012 local elections, UKIP put up 691 candidates in around 2500 local council election contests. Their average % vote share (weighted according to total votes cast) was 13%.[45][46] Also that year, the party came second in several parliamentary by-elections. During 2012 and early 2013, UKIP's popularity in opinion polls increased, with many polls indicating that it had overtaken the Liberal Democrats for third place.[47]

2013 to present

Results of the European Parliament election, 2014 by European Parliamentary constituency. Each purple square represents an elected UKIP MEP.
Results of the European Parliament election, 2014 in England. Districts where UKIP received the largest number of votes are shown in purple.

In the Eastleigh by-election on 28 February 2013, the UKIP candidate Diane James came second, polling the highest proportion and number of votes (27.8% and 11,571 respectively) that a UKIP parliamentary candidate had achieved to this point in time.

UKIP put up a record number of candidates for the 2013 local elections and in the run up to the election performed well in opinion polls,[48] despite a number of controversies over individual candidates in the weeks before the elections.[49][50][51]

In the 2013 county council elections across England, the party achieved its best ever local government result, polling an average of 23% in the wards where it stood, and returning 147 elected councillors.[15] It made significant gains in Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Kent, taking 15, 16 and 17 seats respectively.[52] It was described as the best result for a party outside the big three in British politics since the Second World War.[53]

In local elections in 2014, UKIP won 163 seats, an increase of 128, but did not take control of any council.[54]

In March 2014, Ofcom and the BBC awarded UKIP "major party status" for the 2014 European Elections.[55][56] UKIP received the greatest number of votes (27.49%) of any British party in the 2014 European Parliament election and gained 11 extra MEPs for a total of 24.[57] The party won seats in every region of Great Britain, including its first in Scotland.[58] It was the first time in over a century that a party other than Labour or Conservatives won the most votes in a UK-wide election.[58]

In the Heywood and Middleton by-election, UKIP canididate John Bickley came second in the poll with 11,016 votes (38.7%), 2.2% behind the winner. The 36-point increase in UKIP support was one of the biggest increases in vote for a party in a by-election.[59] UKIP gained its first elected MP with Douglas Carswell winning the seat of Clacton by 12,404 votes on 9 October 2014.[60] His 21,113 votes (59.75%) represented a 44% swing from the Conservative party, from whom Carswell had defected, his resignation having triggered the Clacton by-election.[60] On 20 November, Mark Reckless, who had also defected from the Conservatives and resigned his seat in order to trigger a by-election, was re-elected for UKIP in Rochester and Strood.[61]


UKIP office in Royal Tunbridge Wells

UKIP's organisation is divided into twelve regions.[62] It also has a branch in Gibraltar.

UKIP Eastern

UKIP Eastern Region has offices in Great Yarmouth, Peterborough and Thurrock. It includes the constituency of UKIP's first elected MP, Douglas Carswell for Clacton.[63] The area has three UKIP MEPs, Patrick O’Flynn, Stuart Agnew and Tim Aker.[64]

UKIP Scotland

UKIP in Scotland was led by Christopher Monckton (The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley) and chaired by Mike Scott-Hayward until late 2013, when the Scottish administration was dissolved and the Scottish section of the party "wiped out"[65] following what was described in The Herald newspaper as a "civil war"[66] between the Scottish leadership and challengers favoured by Farage. The dispute concerned the selection of candidates for the European Parliament election in 2014; seven of the nine shortlisted candidates resigned their candidacy immediately before Scottish members were balloted to pick the final six, in protest at what they saw as an unfair balloting process.[66] The ballot was delayed but eventually went ahead with fresh candidates and on 25 February 2014 at Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel, UKIP Scotland announced its full list of candidates for the election.

Commentators have observed that "Ukip in Scotland has failed to replicate the party's success south of the Border".[66] In the 2010 UK general election UKIP Scotland's candidate Robert Smith saved his deposit in the seat of Orkney and Shetland, winning 6.3% of the vote. In 2013 UKIP candidates came fifth narrowly losing their deposit in the Aberdeen Donside by-election and also fifth in the Dunfermline by-election. However, at the start of 2014 in the Cowdenbeath by-election for the Scottish Parliament, UKIP came 4th, outpolling the Scottish Liberal Democrats for the first time.

When Nigel Farage visited Scotland during a by-election campaign in May 2013, protesters from the Radical Independence Campaign interrupted his press conference in the Canon's Gait pub on Edinburgh's Royal Mile and forced him to be taken away in an armoured police van.[67][68][69] Protesters have similarly protested Farage's appearance on a Question Time episode hosted in Scotland.[70]

Citing its consistently lower poll numbers in Scotland compared with England,[71] First Minister Alex Salmond dismissed UKIP as "irrelevant".[72] He and other commentators claimed that this apparent divergence might be a significant factor in the independence referendum in September 2014, arguing that a strong result for UKIP in England in the 2014 European parliamentary elections, coupled with a poor result in Scotland, might help push Scottish voters towards supporting independence.[73] During the elections, however, UKIP achieved more than 10% of the vote in Scotland, winning its first Scottish MEP, David Coburn,[74] and gaining over 140,000 votes.

UKIP Wales

UKIP Wales is headed by Warwick Nicholson[75] and is divided into the same areas as those for the Welsh Assembly. UKIP Wales has grown over the last six years[when?][citation needed] since the election of John Bufton as UKIP's first MEP in Wales. He retired in 2014 to be replaced by Nathan Gill from Anglesey. The UKIP result in Wales was described by Farage as a great success and one of the best in the 2014 European Elections.[76] The party polled 27.55% of the vote (second to Labour with 28.15%), overtaking the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru.[77]

UKIP Northern Ireland

UKIP in Northern Ireland is led by the UKIP MLA for Strangford; David McNarry. Brian Higginson is the Regional Organiser in Northern Ireland. The Newry and Mourne councillor Henry Reilly, is the Northern Ireland Regional Branch Chair, Deputy Chair is Carrickfergus based Councillor Noel Jordan and Secretary is Alan Lewis. UKIP's three other current Councillors in the Region are Craigavon based Councillor David Jones, Belfast Councillor Alderman Bob Stoker and North Down based Councillor, John Montgomery. UKIP has one Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, David McNarry MLA. The party is registered as unionist in the Northern Ireland Assembly.[78] At the 2014 local elections the party gained two seats, increasing its number of councillors In Northern Ireland to four and in the 2014 European Elections won over 24,000 votes in Northern Ireland.[79]

UKIP Gibraltar

UKIP Gibraltar operates as a branch of UKIP in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. It held its first public meeting at the "Lord Nelson" on 25 April 2013.[80] UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said that Gibraltar, along with all other British Overseas Territories, should have representatives in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, similar to the privileges given to French overseas territories in France. Farage believes that all citizens for whom the British Parliament passes legislation, whether in the United Kingdom or its territories, deserve democratic representation in that Parliament.[81]


A UKIP candidate campaigning in the run-up to the 2010 general election


UKIP would increase the personal allowance to the level of full-time minimum wage earnings (approx. £13,500 by 2015 General Election). It also plans to abolish Inheritance Tax.

It would introduce a 35p income tax rate for taxable income between £42,285 and £55,000, with the 40p rate payable above that.

A Treasury Commission would be set up to design a turnover tax to ensure big businesses pay a minimum floor rate of tax as a proportion of their UK turnover.[82]

UKIP opposes the "bedroom tax". UKIP intends to make child benefit payable only to children permanently resident in the UK, and limit it to the first two children of a family. UKIP supports a "simplified, streamlined welfare system" and a "benefit cap".[82]

UKIP would allow businesses to discriminate in favour of young British workers and would repeal the Agency Workers Directive.

A skills review would be encouraged to better inform the education system and qualifications. UKIP would simplify planning regulations and licenses for commercial properties vacant for over a year.

The right of appeal for micro businesses against HMRC action would be extended.

The party would review all legislation and regulations from the EU and remove those which are deemed to hamper British prosperity and competitiveness.

A new trade agreement would be negotiated with the EU to enable the UK's business to continue to a mutual advantage.

Britain would opt out of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) or European Economic Area (EFA) under UKIP as long as those treaties rely on the principle of free movement of labour, which prevents the UK managing its own borders.

Britain's seat at the World Trade Organisation would be reclaimed, ensuring that the UK would continue to enjoy 'most favoured nation' status in trade with the EU, as is required under WTO rules.[82]


On health UKIP's policy is to keep the National Health Service (NHS) and GP visits free at the point of use for UK citizens.[83][84] Non-citizens would be required to have approved medical insurance "as a condition of entering the UK".[85] Farage has spoken in favour of an insurance-based system in the past, which he said would resemble the French and Dutch style system rather than an American style private system, but this was rejected by the party. He has commented, "we may have to think about ways in the future about dealing with health care differently".[86]

On immigration, UKIP proposes to introduce a five-year ban on unskilled immigration to the country, and introduce an "Australia-style" points system to control other immigration. UKIP proposes that migrants must have approved health insurance and will only be eligible for benefits after five years of paying tax in the UK.[87] UKIP will not put a cap or target on the number of migrants moving to the UK.[88]

For the 2015 General Election, UKIP has announced that it would repeal the Climate Change Act 2008, estimating that it costs the economy £18bn a year. They wish to also scrap the Large Combustion Plant Directive and encourage the redevelopment of British power stations as well as industrial units providing on-site power generation. The party supports the development of shale gas with proper safeguards for the local environment. Community improvement levy money from the development of shale gas fields would be earmarked for lower council taxes or community projects within the local authority being developed. There would be no new subsidies for wind farms and solar arrays. UKIP would also abolish green taxes and charges in order to reduce fuel bills. A primary policy of UKIP is to fully ensure the protection of the Green Belt.[82]

In respect to Education policy, UKIP would introduce an option for students to take an apprenticeship qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs which can be continued at A-Level. Students could take up apprenticeships in jobs with certified professionals qualified to grade the progress of the student. Subject to academic performance, UKIP would remove tuition fees for students taking approved degrees in science, medicine, technology, engineering or mathematics, on the condition that they live, work and pay tax in the UK for five years after the completion of their degrees. Students from the EU would be required to pay the same student fee rates as international students. UKIP supports the principle of 'free schools' an expansion in the number of grammar schools. Schools would be investigated by OFSTED on the presentation of a petition to the Department for Education signed by 25% of parents or governors.[82]


UKIP advocates leaving the European Union, resulting in stopping payments to the EU and withdrawal from EU treaties, while maintaining trading ties with other European countries.[89] Nigel Farage says Britain can get a "simple free trade agreement",[90] and says that Britain can negotiate its own free trade agreements around the world without participation in EU trade agreements. For example, UKIP suggests that Britain can create a Commonwealth Free Trade Area.[91]

In its 2010 general election manifesto, UKIP stated that leaving the EU would allow Britain to "regain three essential Freedoms" and stated a belief in civic nationalism, which it says "is open and inclusive to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain, regardless of ethnic or religious background" while contrasting that with what it described as the "blood and soil" nationalism of extremist parties.[92]

UKIP wants to repeal the Human Rights Act and remove Britain from both the European Convention on Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights to "enable us to deport foreign criminal and terrorist suspects where desirable" while still "allow[ing] genuine asylum applications in accordance with our international obligations".[93][94]


UKIP has announced that for the 2015 general election it will pledge to resource fully the UK's military assets and personnel.

The party would guarantee that those who have served in the armed forces for a minimum of 12 years would be found a job in the police force, prison service or border force.

A veterans' department would bring together all veterans' services to ensure servicemen and women receive the after-service care they "deserve". Veterans would also receive a "Veterans' Service Card" to ensure they are fast tracked for mental health care and services if needed. UKIP also announced that it would introduce a National Service Medal for all who have served in the armed forces.[82]

Party leaders

# Leader Tenure Notes
1 Alan Sked 1993–1997
- Craig Mackinlay 1997 Acting leader
2 Michael Holmes, MEP 1997–2000 MEP from 1999–2004
3 Jeffrey Titford, MEP 2000–2002 MEP from 1999–2009
4 Roger Knapman, MEP 2002–2006 MEP from 2004–2009
5 Nigel Farage, MEP 2006–2009 MEP from 1999
6 The Lord Pearson of Rannoch 2009–2010
- Jeffrey Titford 2010 Acting leader
(5) Nigel Farage, MEP 2010–present


Department Spokesperson Other
Leader Nigel Farage
Education Paul Nuttall Deputy leader
Deputy Chairwoman Suzanne Evans Head of policy
Economy Patrick O'Flynn
Home Affairs Diane James
Health Louise Bours
Defence Mike Hookem
Energy Roger Helmer
Employment Jane Collins
Immigration Steven Woolfe
Housing and Environment Andrew Charalambous
Disability Star Ethridge
Transport Jill Seymour
Small Business Margot Parker
Agriculture Stuart Agnew
Fisheries Ray Finch
Heritage and Tourism William Cash
Local Government Peter Reeve
Culture and Communities Peter Whittle
Commonwealth spokesman James Carver
Trade William Dartmouth
Overseas Aid Nathan Gill Head of UKIP Wales
Head of UKIP Scotland David Coburn


House of Commons

Douglas Carswell is the first elected Member of Parliament for UKIP

In 2008, Dr Bob Spink, the MP for Castle Point, resigned the Tory whip (becoming an Independent) but in April joined UKIP.[95] However, from 24 November he appeared again as an Independent in Commons proceedings,[96]

In 2014, two Conservative MPs changed allegiance to UKIP and resigned their seats to fight by-elections for UKIP. Douglas Carswell won the Clacton by-election on 9 October, making him the first MP to be elected representing UKIP.[97] Mark Reckless was also victorious in the Rochester and Strood by-election on 20 November.[61]

House of Lords

On 24 June 1995, UKIP gained its first member of the House of Lords, The Lord Grantley, who had joined the party in 1993 from the Conservatives and had recently succeeded to his father's titles. However, with the coming House of Lords Act 1999, he decided not to stand for election as a continuing member, and so left the House in November 1999. Earlier in 1999, UKIP had gained a second peer in the House of Lords, The Earl of Bradford, but he, too, left the House in November 1999 because of the House of Lords Act. The Lord Pearson of Rannoch and The Lord Willoughby de Broke both defected to UKIP on 7 January 2007, giving the party its first representation in the House of Lords since the departure of Lord Grantley and Lord Bradford.[98] The Lord Pearson of Rannoch went on to serve as party leader from November 2009 to September 2010. On 18 September 2012, The Lord Stevens of Ludgate joined UKIP, having sat as an Independent Conservative since his expulsion from the Conservatives in 2004.[99]

Devolved Seats
London Assembly
0 / 25
Scottish Parliament
0 / 129
Welsh Assembly
0 / 60
Northern Ireland Assembly
1 / 108

Northern Ireland Assembly

On 4 October 2012, UKIP, gained its first representation in the Northern Ireland Assembly in David McNarry, MLA for Strangford, who had been sitting as an independent, following his expulsion from the Ulster Unionist Party.[100][101][102]

Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament

UKIP do not currently have any representatives in the other devolved nations of Scotland or Wales. UKIP fielded candidates at the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May 2011, when its platform included a commitment to keep the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, while replacing the separately-elected Members of the Scottish Parliament with the Members of the House of Commons elected in Scotland.[103] The party also fielded candidates for the National Assembly for Wales.[104]

European Parliament

As a result of the 1999 European parliament election, three UKIP MEPs were elected to the European Parliament. Together with Eurosceptic parties from other nations, they formed a new European parliamentary group called Europe of Democracies and Diversities (EDD).[105]

Following the 2004 European parliament election, 37 MEPs from the UK, Poland, Denmark and Sweden founded a new European Parliamentary group called Independence and Democracy (IND/DEM) as a direct successor to the EDD group.[105][106]

After the 2009 European parliament election, UKIP was a founder member of a new right-wing grouping called Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) comprising Eurosceptic, nationalist, national-conservative and other political factions.[107][108] This group was more right-wing than the previous term's Independence and Democracy group.[109]

Following the 2014 European parliament election, the EFD group was reconstituted as the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD or EFD2) group on 24 June 2014, with a significant changes to group composition, including the Five Star Movement (M5S) of Italy, a total of 48 members.[110] The EFDD group lost official status on 16 October 2014 when the defection of the Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule meant its membership no longer met the required number of states for Parliamentary groups (at least seven different member states).[111][112] The EFD claimed that Grigule had said she left the bloc under pressure from the EU Parliament Speaker Martin Schulz, but a spokesman for Schulz denied this.[113] It was reported Grigule told the secretary general of the EFDD Group that "I had to do it [defect] to get elected."[114] On 20 October, EFD announced it had restored the requisite seven state diversity by recruiting Robert Iwaszkiewicz, one of four representatives of the far-right Polish party Congress of the New Right.[115]

In December 2014 UKIP co-founded a European political party known as Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE), whose membership is composed of several member parties of the EFDD parliamentary group.[116][117]

In response to criticism of low participation by UKIP MEPs in the EU Parliament, Farage has said that "Our objective as MEPs is not to keep voting endlessly for more EU legislation and to take power away from Westminster."[118] In the 2009-14 parliament, UKIP ranked 76th out of 76 for attendance, took part in 61% of votes, and had three of six lowest attending MEPs,[119] which led to criticism from other parties and ex-UKIP MEPs that low participation may damage British interests.[120]

On 24 January 2015, Amjad Bashir, the UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, left UKIP and joined the Conservatives. On the same day, UKIP announced that his membership was suspended as he was being investigated over several allegations of impropriety. Bashir described the claims as "absurd and made-up allegations".[121]

Current members of the European Parliament

UKIP has 23 members in the European Parliament, with representatives in eleven of the twelve European Parliament constituencies in the UK.

Constituency MEP(s)
East Midlands Roger Helmer, Margot Parker
East of England Patrick O'Flynn, Stuart Agnew, Tim Aker
London Gerard Batten
North East Jonathan Arnott
North West England Paul Nuttall, Louise Bours, Steven Woolfe
Scotland David Coburn
South East England Nigel Farage, Janice Atkinson, Diane James, Ray Finch
South West England William Dartmouth, Julia Reid
Wales Nathan Gill
West Midlands Jill Seymour, James Carver, Bill Etheridge
Yorkshire and the Humber Jane Collins, Mike Hookem

Source: The Independent, 27 May 2014[122]

Local government

A map showing the representation of UKIP at various levels of English local government as of August 2014. Counties are in light purple; districts, boroughs and unitary authorities are in deep purple.

The first UKIP local council election win occurred when one of their members was elected to South Cambridgeshire District Council in 2000. A number of Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent local councillors in all four constituent nations of the UK have defected to UKIP over subsequent years, with the most recent defections to date (May to July 2013) coming from former Conservative councillors in the London Boroughs of Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Havering, and from Labour in Northampton and North-East Lincolnshire. In May 2013, 33 English and one Welsh council held local elections, with UKIP gaining 139 seats for a total of 147, with significant gains in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Kent.[123]

On 6 May 2011, the party won nine of the seventeen seats for Ramsey Town Council in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Before the election, the party had only one seat in the town council. On 12 May, UKIP councillor Lisa Duffy was elected as Mayor. The UKIP group leader for Huntingdonshire District Council said that the town council under UKIP would "be standing up for volunteers and the third sector and will be making grants to them to help the big society develop." The Daily Mail said that UKIP "has made political history after taking control of its first council in the UK".[124][dated info]

At the 2013 and 2014 local elections, UKIP made significant gains to become the fourth largest party in terms of councillors in England, and fifth largest in the UK with over 300 seats (out of about 21,000).

Defections and removals

Defections to UKIP

Numerous former Conservative Members of Parliament have joined UKIP since its creation including the former UKIP Leader Roger Knapman, Neil Hamilton, Jonathan Aitken, Sir Richard Body, Timothy Brinton, Michael Brotherton, John Browne, Christopher Gill, Teresa Gorman and Piers Merchant. Others who have joined include the former Conservative MEP Beata Brookes and former Conservative members of the House of Lords Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh and Richard Bridgeman, 7th Earl of Bradford.

In April 2008, Bob Spink became the first member of Parliament for UKIP after leaving the Conservative Party.[125][126] In November 2008 he was redesignated as an Independent, on the grounds that UKIP had no 'whip'.[127]

In March 2012, Roger Helmer, a Conservative MEP, defected to UKIP.[128]

In October 2012, David McNarry, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly who had been elected as an Ulster Unionist, joined UKIP after being expelled from the Ulster Unionist Party, becoming UKIPs second representative in Northern Ireland alongside Henry Reilly, a councillor in Newry and Mourne.[129]

In May 2013, five Conservative councillors at the London Borough of Merton resigned from the party, some of whom then joined UKIP, including the current deputy chairman Suzanne Evans.[130]

In August 2014, Conservative MP for Clacton Douglas Carswell defected to UKIP, winning the resulting by-election in his Clacton constituency. A month later a second Conservative MP, Mark Reckless, defected to UKIP.[131]

In September 2014, Richard Barnes, a former Deputy Mayor of London, joined UKIP.[132]

In October 2014, Alan Craig, the leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance from 2004 to 2013 joined UKIP.[133]

In December 2014, Ian Luder, the Lord Mayor of London from 2008 to 2009, joined UKIP.[134]

In February 2015, Rev. George Hargreaves, the leader of the Christian Party from 2005 to 2014, joined UKIP.[135]

In March 2015, Harriet Yeo, the Chair of the Labour Party from 2012 to 2013, joined UKIP.[136][137]

Defections from UKIP

Three UKIP MEPS have defected to the Conservative Party; David Campbell Bannerman in May 2011,[138] Marta Andreasen in February 2013,[139] and Amjad Bashir in January 2015.[140]

Removals and suspensions

In March 2010, the UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclaire was expelled from UKIP after resigning from the EFD grouping, citing her displeasure at what she perceived to be racist and extremist parties that belong to the EFD Group. Sinclaire also cited the deterioration of her relationship with Farage, the co-leader of the EFD group.[141] Sinclaire was subsequently expelled from UKIP for refusing to be part of the EFD group.[141] She later won a sex discrimination claim against her former colleagues, to which UKIP did not lodge a defence, and the ruling went against the party by default.[142]

Mike Nattrass failed a candidate assessment test in August 2013 and was deselected by the party for the 2014 European election.[143] He took the party to court over the decision, but lost. In September 2013, Nattrass resigned from UKIP, becoming an Independent MEP in the process. Natrass described Farage's leadership of the party as "totalitarian", following his earlier deselection.[144] He was the fourth UKIP MEP elected in 2009 to leave the party.

Godfrey Bloom whilst sitting as a UKIP MEP, and a senior party member made statements that have been described as "sexist". A few weeks after being appointed to the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality on 20 July 2004, Bloom told an interviewer that, "no self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age."[145] After inviting students from the University of Cambridge Women's Rugby Club to Brussels in 2004, Bloom was accused of sexual assault, making "sexist and misogynistic remarks" and using offensive language during a dinner party. Bloom, who sponsored the club with £3,000 a year, admitted making misogynist comments but denied sexual harassment.[146] On 20 September 2013, UKIP withdrew the party whip from Bloom after he assaulted journalist Michael Crick in the street, threatened a second reporter, and at the party's conference jokingly referred to his female audience as sluts.[147] Bloom sat for the remainder of his term as an independent MEP.[148] In October 2014, Bloom announced that he was leaving the party, citing disagreements with the party chairman Steve Crowther, about whether he was able to speak publicly in an official UKIP capacity. He warned the new UKIP MP Douglas Carswell to "watch his back".[149]

At the end of 2012, Olly Neville, the interim chair of UKIP's youth wing, Young Independence, was fired for saying that European elections were a "sort of sideshow," and for expressing support for same-sex marriage. A few days later, the prospective Parliamentary candidate for Chester, Richard Lowe, resigned under pressure, because of his support for same-sex marriage and immigration, and his "lukewarm anti-EU stance."[150]

On 8 December 2014, UKIP’s General Secretary Roger Bird was suspended following "allegations of impropriety" in relation to candidate selection. A statement on the party’s website said: "Unfortunately, UKIP has had to suspend Mr Bird pending a full investigation into allegations made against him. The party has acted swiftly and decisively and will not tolerate impropriety of any kind amongst its staff." The following day, prospective parliamentary candidate Natasha Bolter told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that Bird had propositioned her during the process to select her as a party candidate. Bird denied her claims, saying that he had had a "consensual relationship" with her. In response, Bolter told Newsnight: "I know he is lying because I did not sleep with Roger Bird".[151]

In January 2015, UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir was suspended by the party shortly after he defected to the Conservative Party.[152] Bashir described his defection as “a political decision” and David Cameron said he was "very proud" of his new recruit.[153] However, Nigel Farage later told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Bashir had "reached the end of the road" with UKIP and been suspended by the party over various allegations - all of which Bashir subsequently denied – shortly before his defection.[152] In the 1970s Bashir had been a member of the Labour Party before much later joining the Conservative Party for a year.[153]

UKIP MEP and general election candidate Janice Atkinson was expelled by the party on 23 March 2015 for "bringing the party into disrepute".[154] The decision followed a newspaper investigation into an allegations that her chief of staff had requested a falsified receipt for more than £3,000 for a lunch costing just £950 in order to claim it as official EU expenses.[155] Ms Atkinson’s assistant was also expelled from the party.[154]

Election results

House of Commons

House of Commons of the United Kingdom
Election year # of total votes  % of overall vote # of seats won
1997[156] 105,722 Increase 0.3% Increase 0 Steady
2001[157] 390,563 Increase 1.5% Increase 0 Steady
2005[158] 603,298 Increase 2.2% Increase 0 Steady
2010[159] 919,546 Increase 3.1% Increase 0 Steady

European Parliament

European Parliament
Election year # of total votes  % of overall vote # of seats won Rank
1994[160] 155,487 Increase 1% Increase
0 / 87
8 Increase
1999[161] 696,057 Increase 6.7% Increase
3 / 87
4 Increase
2004[162] 2,650,768 Increase 16.1% Increase
12 / 78
3 Increase
2009[163] 2,498,226 Decrease 16.6% Increase
13 / 72
2 Increase
2014[57] 4,376,635 Increase 27.5% Increase
24 / 73
1 Increase



Year Members
2002 9,000
2003 16,000
2004 26,000
2005 19,000
2006 16,000
2007 15,878
2008 14,630
2009 16,252
2010 15,535
2011 17,184
2012 20,409
2013 32,447[1]
2014 42,057
*2015 44,041

UKIP's membership numbers increased from 2002 to the time of the 2004 European Parliament election, before hovering around the 16,000 mark during the late 2000s.[1][164] By July 2013, the figure grew to 30,000[165] before ending the year at 32,447.[166] In 2014, the number was 36,000 on 22 April,[167] by 7 May reached 37,000[168] and on 19 May, less than a fortnight later and only three days before the 2014 European Parliament election, rose to 38,000.[169] On 29 October 2014, Patick O'Flynn MEP, UKIP's Director of Communications announced that membership had grown to 40,094, almost doubling since 2012.[13]

On 15 January 2015, it was claimed that the combined membership of the UK's Green parties (Green Party of England and Wales, Scottish Green Party, and Green Party in Northern Ireland) had risen to 43,829 members, surpassing UKIP’s membership, and thereby making the Greens the third-largest UK-wide political party in the UK in terms of membership.[170][171] (The Scottish National Party (SNP), has a membership of 92,187 members but is not a UK-wide party.)[172]

Voter base

In 2011, the British academics Matthew Goodwin, Robert Ford and David Cutts published a study that identified Euroscepticism as the main causal factor for voters supporting UKIP, with concern over immigration levels and distrust of the political establishment also featuring as important motives. The average UKIP voter was 55 years old, which is older than for other parties. There was no correlation between social class and likelihood of voting UKIP, although UKIP voters tended to feel more financially insecure than the average voter. The skilled working class were found to be slightly overrepresented amongst UKIP voters, and there was a higher likelihood that a UKIP voter had grown up in a Conservative-supporting household compared to the average voter.[173]

In the same year, a study by Richard Whitaker and Philip Lynch of the University of Leicester, based on polling data from YouGov, concluded that "the balance of attitudinal explanations of UKIP support makes its voters distinct from those voting for far right parties". The authors found that voter support for UKIP correlated with concerns about the value of immigration, hostility to immigrants and a lack of trust in the political system but the biggest explanatory factor for their support of UKIP was Euroscepticism.[174] A further study by the same authors suggests that UKIP voters' core beliefs align very closely to those of the UKIP candidates; particularly so on issues surrounding European integration, which has resulted in Conservative voters switching to UKIP due to divisions within the Conservatives over this issue.[175]

In May 2013, Stephan Shakespeare, the CEO of YouGov, analysed the reasons for the strong support and performance of UKIP in the 2013 local elections. He observed that voter research showed UKIP had "very loyal" followers, with a high proportion of ex-Conservative voters, and that the primary reason for support was a sense by voters that UKIP "seemed to be on the same wavelength" as the population, was perceived as "genuine", "simply different", and that, by tapping into the "anti-politics mood", became contrasted strongly with "the others [who] haven't got a clue about the real world". He concluded that "you just don't get this [perception] with other party leaders, not even from their supporters". Noting also that 23% of voters reported giving "serious consideration" to voting UKIP, and that non-UKIP voters were "only half as likely to mention immigration or Europe" as existing UKIP voters. He also concluded that these potential voters were "best won" by providing a "broad agenda".[176]

Lord Glasman, an adviser to Labour leader Ed Miliband, said that in his opinion Labour voters who defected to UKIP may never return because the party is failing to address concerns on welfare and immigration.[177]

An analysis of UKIP support from surveys in October 2014 conducted by YouGov, showed increasing support from former Labour and, to a lesser extent, Liberal Democrat voters. The polling by YouGov reported that the proportion of UKIP's supporters who were former Labour voters had doubled since January 2013 (7% to 13%) and grown from former Liberal Democrat supporters (15% to 17%), with former Conservative supporters down from 60% to 48%.[178]

In terms of the religion of UKIP voters, the party performs strongly among the Anglican, Presbyterian and Baptist electorate. Of non-Christians, it has relatively high support from Jews, Buddhists and atheists, a lower rate from Hindus and Sikhs, but a significantly low amount of Muslim voters.[179] It has been pointed out that although parts of the UK where UKIP has strong support were historically Puritan, it also has a growing number of Roman Catholic voters.[180]

Among young voters, UKIP support is minimal. According to an Opinium/Observer poll in December 2014 on the views of 17 to 22 year olds, Nigel Farage is the least popular political leader. Only 3% of young people questioned said that they intended to vote for UKIP, compared with 19% among voters of all ages.[181] The 17% who said they would vote outside the three main parties were four times more likely to vote for the Green Party than for UKIP.[182]

Financial backing

According to UKIP's annual returns to the Electoral Commission,[183] in 2013 the party had a total income of £2,479,314. Of this, £714,492 was from membership and subscriptions, £32,115 from fundraising activities and £1,361,640 from donations. By law, individual donations over £7,500 must be reported.[184] These amounted to £412,012 in cash and £121,962 donations in kind.

UKIP has several high profile backers. On 28 March 2009, the Conservative Party's biggest-ever donor, Stuart Wheeler, donated £100,000 to UKIP after criticising David Cameron's stance towards the Lisbon treaty and the European Union. He was subsequently expelled from the Conservatives and, in 2011, appointed treasurer of UKIP to spearhead fundraising for the 2014 European election campaign. His appointment was seen as a blow for the Conservatives because of his network of contacts.[185] In total, Wheeler has donated more than £403,690 since 2009,[186] including £150,000 in February 2014.[187]

In October 2014, Arron Banks, who previously gave £25,000 to the Conservatives, increased his UKIP donation from £100,000 to £1m after William Hague said he had never heard of him.[188]

In December 2014, Richard Desmond, proprietor of Express Newspapers and pornographic TV channels, donated £300,000 to UKIP. Desmond had made Lord Stevens, the UKIP peer and the former chairman of Express Newspapers, his deputy chairman in October.[188] The donation indicated that Desmond's papers, the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, would back UKIP in the run-up to the 2015 general election.[189] Three weeks before the election, Desmond gave the party another £1 million.[190]

According to The Guardian, a leaked internal report to UKIP’s executive committee dated 3 September 2012 shows the party's leader argued that "the key to money for us will be the hedge fund industry". Reviewing the party’s recent successes the report said, "It is very interesting. We are very close to the tipping point of being able to do something very very big.....The type of people we are talking to has changed. People who would have slammed the door in our face 3 years ago are inviting us. The key to money for us will be the hedge fund industry."[191]

Media coverage

The BBC received almost 1,200 complaints about its coverage of the 2014 European and local elections, saying it was biased towards UKIP.[192] The BBC denied any bias. UKIP politicians including Nigel Farage have accused the BBC of a liberal bias, particularly on issues of immigration, the European Union, and climate change.[193]

In a YouGov survey in May 2014, 47% considered the media biased against UKIP.[194] This was more than twice as many who considered the media biased against other parties.

Parties created by former UKIP members


Veritas - Latin for "truth" - which has been described as a breakaway party from UKIP,[195] was founded at a press conference on 2 February 2005, during which Kilroy-Silk proclaimed "unlike the old parties, we shall be honest, open and straight", devoid of the other parties' "lies and spin". There were a number of defections from UKIP to the party including the UKIP London Assembly member Damian Hockney, who became deputy leader.[196] (Damian Hockney and Peter Hulme-Cross had been elected to the London Assembly in June 2004 as UKIP representatives, then switched to Veritas).

One London

After the failure of Veritas, Damian Hockney and Peter Hulme-Cross formed One London on 1 September 2005. One London was registered as a party in November 2005 and was de-registered in November 2008.[197]

An Independence from Europe

An Independence from Europe was set up by the former UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass on 11 November 2013. Nattrass has said that the celebrity chef Rustie Lee, and a former Welsh minister are amongst his supporters.[198] The party stood in every constituency in England at the 2014 European Parliament elections. An Independence from Europe used the ballot paper description "UK Independence Now", drawing complaints from UKIP due to the similarity of the name and the party's description.[199] Three former UKIP councillors on Lincolnshire County Council have also joined the party.[200]

We Demand a Referendum

We Demand a Referendum is a British political party launched by the former UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclaire in June 2012.[201]

New Deal

New Deal, a party, which has been described as "a new left-of-centre anti–EU party which hopes to challenge Labour" was founded in September 2013 by UKIP's founder Alan Sked.[202]

British Freedom Party and Liberty GB

Former UKIP candidate Paul Weston founded the defunct British Freedom Party and later Liberty GB, having left the party mainly due to what he described as its failure to address issues around Islam in Britain.[203]

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Further reading

External links