UK Independence Party

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UK Independence Party
Leader Nigel Farage MEP
Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall MEP
Founded 3 September 1993[1]
Headquarters Lexdrum House
Newton Abbot, Devon
Youth wing Young Independence
Membership  (September 2014) Increase 48,623
(party estimate)[2]
Ideology Euroscepticism[3]
Right-wing populism[4]
Political position Right-wing[5]
European affiliation None
European Parliament group Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy
Colours      Purple
House of Commons
1 / 650
House of Lords
3 / 754
EU Parliament
24 / 73
Local government[6]
370 / 20,565
Police and Crime Commissioner
0 / 41
Politics of the United Kingdom
Political parties

The UK Independence Party (UKIP, sometimes styled Ukip /ˈjuːkɪp/) is a Eurosceptic[7][8] right-wing populist[4] political party in the United Kingdom, founded in 1993 by members of the Anti-Federalist League. The party describes itself in its constitution as a "democratic, libertarian party"[9] and, in June 2014, reported a membership of over 39,000.[10]

In May 2014, UKIP became the first party in over a century other than Labour or the Conservatives to come first in a United Kingdom-wide election, with its performance in the 2014 European elections giving it 24 of the UK's 73 seats in the European Parliament.[11] Although UKIP has never won a seat in the House of Commons, it has three members in the House of Lords and holds one seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly.[12][13] The party's performance in the 2013 local elections, when it came fourth in the number of council seats won and third in nationwide vote share,[14][15] was called the "biggest surge for a fourth party" in British politics since the Second World War.[16]

The party's leader, Nigel Farage, was re-elected to the post on 5 November 2010,[17] and was leader from 2006 to 2009. Farage is a founding member of the party,[18] and has been a UKIP Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since 1999.[19]


Founding and early years

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.[20] The nascent party's primary objective was withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. 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.

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"[21] and was "doomed to remain on the political fringes".[22] 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,[23] 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.

UKIP put up candidates in more than 420 seats in the 2001 general election, attaining 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 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.[24][25]

2004 European elections and 2005 general election

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.

In late 2004, the mainstream UK press speculated on if or when the UKIP MEP, former Labour Party MP and chat-show host Robert Kilroy-Silk would take control of the party. These comments 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 the by-election in Hartlepool, where UKIP finished third (with 10.2%) above the Conservatives in fourth (9.7%).

Interviewed by Channel 4 television, Kilroy-Silk did not deny having ambitions to lead the party, but stressed that Roger Knapman would lead it into the next general election.[citation needed] However, the next day, on Breakfast with Frost, he criticised Knapman's leadership.[26] After further disagreement with the leadership, Kilroy-Silk resigned the UKIP whip in the European Parliament on 27 October 2004.[27] Initially, he remained a member, while seeking a bid for the party leadership. However, this was not successful and he resigned completely from UKIP on 20 January 2005, calling it a "joke".[28] Two weeks later, he founded his own party, Veritas, taking a number of UKIP members, including both of the London Assembly members, with him.[29]

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, and did not win a seat in the House of Commons. This result placed it fourth in terms of votes cast nationally.[30] Its best performance was in Boston & Skegness, where Richard Horsnell came third with 9.6% of the vote.[31]

Following the 2005 general election, Kilroy-Silk subsequently resigned from Veritas after its performance in the election, the party having received only 40,607 votes.[30] In April 2006 David Cameron, during a phone-in on London's LBC radio station, described UKIP members as being "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly."[32] Farage asked for an apology. but Cameron did not back down.[33] On 12 September 2006, Farage was elected leader of UKIP with 45% of the vote, 20% ahead of his nearest rival.

2009 European elections

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 said, "If they kick me out I will understand. I will be very sorry about it, but it won't alter my stance."[34] The following day, 29 March, he was expelled from the Conservative Party.[35]

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.[36]

Leadership election, 2009

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.[37] The leadership election was contested by five candidates - Malcolm Pearson, Gerard Batten, Nikki Sinclaire, Mike Nattrass and Alan Wood - and was won by Malcolm Pearson with just under half of the 9900 votes cast [38]

2010 general election

A UKIP campaign bus

UKIP fielded 572 candidates in the 2010 general election;.[39] Lord Pearson asked some prospective candidates to stand down in favour of Eurosceptic Conservative and Labour MPs. However, some refused to do so.[citation needed] This did not stop Lord Pearson from campaigning on behalf of the Conservative candidates stating that he was "putting country before party". These decisions drew some criticism from within the party from the likes of Michael Heaver of Young Independence.[citation needed]

On the morning of polling day, Farage was injured while flying as a passenger in a light aircraft which crashed near Brackley, Northamptonshire.[40]

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.[41] This made it the party with the largest percentage of the popular vote to win no seats in the election.[42]

In Buckingham, the seat of the Speaker John Bercow, Farage obtained 17% of the vote, despite receiving some level of support from Lord Tebbit, a senior Conservatives figure.[43] Farage came third behind Bercow and John Stevens, the Buckinghamshire Campaign For Democracy candidate,[44] a Europhile and former Conservative MEP.[45] UKIP was also third in three other constituencies: North Cornwall, North Devon and Torridge and West Devon.[46] Farage's result was the best of all UKIP candidates that the party put forward in the 2010 general election.[47]

Leadership election, 2010

Lord Pearson resigned as leader in August 2010.[48] The subsequent leadership election was contested between Nigel Farage, Tim Congdon, David Bannerman and Winston McKenzie and won by Farage with more than 60% of the vote.[49] During his acceptance speech, Farage spoke out against the leadership of the Conservative Party, and Conservative policy on Europe.[50] Lord Pearson, the previous leader, welcomed Farage's re-election, and said "The UKIP crown returns to its rightful owner."[51]

From the 2010 general election to the end of 2012

UKIP contested two by-elections in early 2011, with candidate Jane Collins coming second in Barnsley Central with 12.2% of the vote[52] and Paul Nuttall finishing fourth in Oldham East and Saddleworth with 5.8% of the vote.[53] Farage welcomed Collins's success and said that UKIP should now aim to replace the Liberal Democrats as the third largest party, saying "The Lib Dems are no longer the voice of opposition in British politics – we are. Between now and the next general election our aim is to replace them as the third party in British politics."[54]

UKIP fielded 1,217 candidates for the 2011 local council elections, a major increase over its previous campaigns,[citation needed] but not enough to qualify for a party election broadcast on television.[55] UKIP said that the party was well-organised in the South East, South West and Eastern regions, but there were still places across the country where there were no UKIP candidates standing at all.[56]

Across the country, many UKIP candidates came second or third. UKIP in Newcastle-under-Lyme gained a total of five seats on Newcastle Borough Council in 2007 and 2008 and three seats on Staffordshire County Council in 2009. Although UKIP did not poll well, it made gains across many parts of England, as well as taking control of Ramsey town council with nine UKIP councillors out of 17. Whilst UKIP made gains and losses, the party fell short of Farage's predictions of major gains. The UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen called for Farage's resignation as leader of the party.[57]

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, becoming UKIPs second representative in Northern Ireland alongside Henry Reilly, a councillor in Newry and Mourne.[58]

On 29 November 2012, UKIP finished in second place in the 2012 Rotherham by-election, with 4,648 votes (21.7% of the votes cast). This was the highest percentage share recorded by UKIP in any parliamentary election (although it had polled a greater number of votes in the 2012 Corby by-election and also in Buckingham in the 2010 general election, where its candidate was Nigel Farage).[59][60] Its candidate, Jane Collins, had previously been the only UKIP candidate to come second in any UK parliamentary election, at Barnsley Central in 2011. UKIP also came second in 2012 in the Middlesbrough by-election and third in the Croydon North by-election, which were held on the same day as Rotherham.

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.[61]

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 party's candidate Diane James polled the highest percentage (27.8%) and number of votes (11,571) ever for a UKIP parliamentary candidate. UKIP came second, 4.26% (1,771 votes) behind the Liberal Democrats who retained the seat. The Conservatives were pushed into third place with a quarter of the vote and the Labour Party into fourth place with less than 10% of the vote.

In the run-up to the 2013 local elections, UKIP continued to do well in opinion polls and put up a record number of candidates for the party,[62] despite a number of controversies over individual candidates in the weeks before the elections[63][64][65] with the BBC reporting that UKIP was investigating "six candidates over links to the BNP and other far right groups or alleged racist and homophobic comments, following stories in national and local newspapers."[62] Since 2008 UKIP has banned former BNP members from joining UKIP.[66] Several candidates were suspended from the party for racist views.[67] UKIP accused the Conservative Party's Central Office of trawling through candidates' online presences to "smear" the party, but acknowledged that it did not have the time or money to vet all of its candidates.[62]

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.[68] It was described as the best result for a party outside the big three in British politics since the Second World War.[16] A Guardian/ICM poll in the week after these elections placed UKIP third in national polls, with nationwide support of 18%. However, analysis suggests that in one considered scenario[clarification needed] this level of support would not be enough to win any seats at the next general election, and UKIP "face an uphill struggle to secure more than a handful of MPs".[69] By 11 June 2013 UKIP had dropped 6 points in the Guardian/ICM poll, to join the Liberal Democrats on 12%.[70] However by 16 June Comres had UKIP support at 19% [71] and Observer/Opinium at 20%.[72]

Though winning councillors and gaining impressive vote shares in by-elections in England, UKIP has not been able to make any similar advance in Scotland, a trend that was confirmed in the Aberdeen Donside by-election on 20 June 2013, when the UKIP candidate came 5th, losing his deposit with 4.8% of the vote.[73]

During the party's conference in 2013 the whip was suspended from Godfrey Bloom, after he was reported to have made sexist comments.[74]

According to Farage, interviewed on 24 January 2014, UKIP's general election manifesto in 2010 was "drivel" and "nonsense".[75] Though Farage had written the foreword and helped to launch it,[76] he said he had never read the 486 pages of policy documents that were published alongside UKIP's manifesto, which had been written by its then policy chief, David Campbell Bannerman; Farage commented, "The idiot that wrote it has now left us and joined the Conservatives." The party was working on new policies which would be unveiled by the end of 2014, he said.[75]

Farage pledged in January 2014 that he would end the selection of so-called 'Walter Mitty' candidates who bring the party into disrepute.[77] This was interpreted as a rejection of comments made by David Silvester,[77] a former Conservative Party councillor and a (now former) UKIP councillor in Henley-on Thames,[78] who had made comments blaming recent floods in Britain on prime minister David Cameron because he had been responsible for the introduction of same-sex marriage.[79]

In local elections in 2014, UKIP won 163 seats, an increase of 128, but did not take control of any council.[80]

2014 European elections

In March 2014, Ofcom awarded UKIP "major party status" for the 2014 European Elections, but only in England and Wales and not on a permanent basis.[81] This will give UKIP the same number of party election broadcasts as the three larger parties as well as having its views given "due weight" in broadcast news on ITV and Channel 5. A BBC source indicated that it will also do this.[82]

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.[83] The party won seats in every region of Great Britain, including its first in Scotland, which Farage called a "breakthrough".[84] 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.[84] Farage said the result would change British politics fundamentally.[85]


UKIP office in Tunbridge Wells

UKIP's organisation is divided into twelve regions.[86] It also has a branch in Gibraltar.

UKIP Scotland

UKIP in Scotland was led by Lord (Christopher) 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"[87] following what was described in The Herald newspaper as a "civil war"[88] 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.[88] 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".[88] 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.[89][90][91] Protesters have similarly protested Farage's appearance on a Question Time episode hosted in Scotland.[92]

Citing its consistently low poll numbers in Scotland compared with England,[93] First Minster Alex Salmond dismissed Ukip as "irrelevant".[94] He and other impartial 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.[95] During the elections, however, UKIP achieved more than 10% of the vote in Scotland, winning its first Scottish MEP, David Coburn.,[96] and gaining over 140,000 votes.

UKIP Wales

UKIP Wales is headed by Warwick Nicholson[97] and is divided into the same areas as those for the Welsh Assembly. UKIP Wales has grown over the last six years[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 Nigel Farage as a great success and one of the best on the night of European Elections.[citation needed] The party polled over 200,000 votes almost beating Labour into second place.

UKIP Northern Ireland

UKIP's membership in Northern Ireland was 247 in June 2013.[98] The party's first representative to be elected under the UKIP label in Northern Ireland, the Kilkeel councillor Henry Reilly, is the party's Northern Ireland chairman. Alan Love is its vice-chairman, Barbara Trotter is secretary and Alan Lewis is treasurer. UKIP has one Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, namely David McNarry, formerly chief whip for the Ulster Unionist Party, who joined UKIP in 2012. The party is registered as unionist in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Paul Nuttall, MEP for North West England and UKIP's deputy leader, has called for a UKIP-Traditional Unionist Voice electoral pact for the 2014 European Parliament election.[99] At the 2014 local elections the party gained two seats, increasing its number of councillors to three.[100]

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.[101] 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.[102]


A UKIP marquee at the Croydon Summer Festival, 2007

Although UKIP's original raison d'être was withdrawal from the European Union,[103] it was felt that the public perception of the party as a single-issue party – despite issuing full manifestos – was damaging electoral progress.[104] Farage, on becoming leader, started a wide-ranging policy review, his stated aim being "the development of the party into broadly standing for traditional conservative and libertarian values".[105]

Taxation and economy

UKIP supports raising the personal allowance so that people on minimum wage pay no income tax.[106] The party also proposes cuts in corporation taxes and the abolition of inheritance taxes.[107][108] The abolition of national insurance is advocated by UKIP, which it says will simplify the tax system.[109] UKIP proposes "tens of billions" of cuts to taxation, along with a further £77 billion of cuts to the public sector in order to reduce the deficit.[109] Economic plans outlined by UKIP in its 2010 manifesto have been called into question by The Times, which has claimed there is a “£120 billion black hole” in these spending plans.[110]


According to the party website, UKIP proposes directing the majority of health care spending to elected County Health Boards, making spending decisions directly accountable to the public locally;[111][112] as well as dramatically cutting the Department of Health and bringing in professional procurement skills to reduce what UKIP says are the huge amounts of money wasted in procurement and resource allocation.[111] In addition, UKIP proposes introducing a voucher system that will enable people to receive treatment outside of the NHS, replace non-clinical managers with matrons to run NHS hospitals and introduce free dental and eye checks.[113]

European Union

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

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.[109] Nigel Farage says Britain can get a "simple free trade agreement",[114] 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.[115]

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.[116]

European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe

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".[117][118]


UKIP fully supports the British monarchy and its constitutional role.[119] In 2012, it opposed disestablishment of the Church of England and said it would consider a transfer of part of the Crown Estates back to the Monarchy, in exchange for an end to annual State support.[120]


UKIP hoarding in Exeter, 2009. Featuring Sir Winston Churchill, it reads "Say no to unlimited immigration. Take back control of our borders"

UKIP's policies on immigration are currently under review[121] after receiving criticism for not having "clear-cut" immigration policies.[122] The party has previously outlined a number of measures designed to reduce immigration into the UK [117][121] which include a five-year "freeze" on immigration for permanent settlement, the introduction of a points-based work-permit system and initiating a drive to remove illegal immigrants. In addition, UKIP proposes to allow EU citizens who have been domiciled in the UK for seven years to apply for citizenship.[117][121] Since EU immigrants are overwhelmingly white and non-EU immigrants are overwhelmingly non-white, UKIP’s immigration policy would mean a higher proportion of immigrants to Britain are ethnic minorities. This opposition to freedom of movement is, according to UKIP, to end discrimination on the basis of EU citizenship in favour of a purely skill based immigration policy.[123]

On 29 December 2013, Nigel Farage told the BBC that the UK should allow Syrian refugees to enter the UK, while continuing to limit "economic migration".[124] The next day he clarified his position, suggesting that Britain should allow refuge to the persecuted Christian minority in Syria.[125][126] His views were rejected by the government.[127]

Same-sex marriage

In November 2012, David Coburn of UKIP's National Executive Committee stated the party's policy on same-sex marriage: the party supports civil partnerships but opposes legalisation allowing same-sex marriage because of concerns that a law change could mean that faith groups and places of worship would be forced to perform same-sex marriages.[128][129] In March 2014, an answer submitted to Pink News by the UKIP press office had Farage saying UKIP would not overturn same-sex marriages if elected. Farage said that answer had not been approved by him, and was a "draft by a staff member that should never have been sent out".[130]

Energy, environment and climate change

UKIP are sceptical of man-made climate change and oppose the creation of wind farms and investment in other renewable energy sources.[128] In 2010, UKIP stated that they would seek to have a Royal Commission investigate whether or not climate change is man-made, to scrap wind farm subsidies, ban the showing of the global warming film An Inconvenient Truth in schools, and ban use of public money by local authorities on climate change-related efforts.[131] UKIP's 2013 energy policy document states that global warming is part of a natural cycle: "the slight warming in the last hundred years is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term natural climate cycles".[132]

On Any Questions, Nigel Farage described plans to increase the use of wind energy as "loopy" and said it would lead to Britain being covered "in ugly disgusting ghastly windmills" that would not satisfactorily provide for Britain's energy needs.[132]

Then UKIP spokesman Christopher Monckton said that the intention of a proposed United Nations climate treaty was to "impose a communist world government",[132] and stated that UKIP was the only option for those who disbelieve in climate change as "all the major parties have decided to sign up to the eco-fascist agenda".[131]


In its 2010 manifesto, UKIP proposed a 40 percent increase in defence spending and the purchase of three new aircraft carriers.[133] In January 2014, party leader Farage said that all the party's policies were under review and he would not commit to new ones until after the European elections in May.[134] The party has also pledged to streamline the Ministry of Defence and to oppose foreign military intervention and military aid.[135]

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 Lord Pearson of Rannoch 2009–2010
- Jeffrey Titford 2010 Acting leader
(5) Nigel Farage, MEP 2010–present


House of Commons

The party has never had a Member of Parliament elected to the House of Commons under the UKIP banner, although it has briefly had representation due to the defection of Conservative MPs. In 2008, Dr Bob Spink, the MP for Castle Point, resigned the Tory whip (becoming an Independent) but then joined UKIP.[136] However, from 24 November he appeared again as an Independent in Commons proceedings,[137] On 28 August 2014, Douglas Carswell MP defected to UKIP after resigning from the Conservatives.[138] The following day, during the Parliamentary recess, he was appointed Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, disbarring him from sitting in the Commons and triggering a by-election.[139] On 27 September 2014, another Conservative MP, Mark Reckless, moved to UKIP and announced his intention to resign as MP and fight a by-election.[140]

House of Lords

On 24 June 1995, UKIP gained its first member of the House of Lords, 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, Richard Thomas Orlando Bridgeman, 7th 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 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 the Earl of Bradford.[141] 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.[142]

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.[12][13][143]

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.[144] The party also fielded candidates for the National Assembly for Wales.[145]

European Parliament

In 1999, three UKIP members were elected to the European Parliament. Together with Eurosceptics from other countries, they formed a grouping called Europe of Democracies and Diversities (EDD).

In 2004, 37 MEPs from the UK, Poland, Denmark and Sweden founded a new European Parliamentary group called Independence and Democracy (ID) from the old EDD group. However, following the European Parliament election, 2009, when Eurosceptic parties from Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere lost all representation, the ID group was dissolved.

UKIP has since formed a new right-wing grouping called Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) comprising nationalist, Eurosceptic, conservative and other political factions. This group is more right-wing than the older Independence and Democracy grouping.[146]

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."[147] 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,[148] which led to criticism from other parties and ex-UKIP MEPs that low participation may damage British interests.[149]

Current members of the European Parliament

UKIP has 24 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, Amjad Bashir, Mike Hookem

Source: The Independent, 27 May 2014[150]

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 the May 2012 local elections, UKIP won a total of 7 seats in England out of 2,414 (no change on the previous year),[151] 2 seats in Wales out of 1,223 (up 1)[152] and no seats in Scotland out of 1,220 (down 1).[153] It failed to win any seats in the London Assembly, coming fifth overall with 4.5% of the vote. In November that year, it failed to win any contests in the England and Wales Police and Crime Commissioner elections. 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.[154]

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".[155][dated info]

Defections and removals

Defections to UKIP

On 12 October 2011, Roger Helmer announced that he would resign from the European Parliament at the end of the year, citing "increasing disillusion with the attitudes of the Conservative Party" as the main reason, although admitting that his "twelve-and-a-half years banging my head against the same brick wall in Brussels is perhaps long enough".[156] It was announced on 2 March 2012 that he had defected from the Conservatives to the United Kingdom Independence Party.[157]

On 28 August 2014, Conservative MP for Clacton Douglas Carswell resigned in his defection to UKIP and leading to a by-election in his Clacton constituency, at which he will stand for UKIP. Despite having 'resigned', by convention he remains the MP for the constituency until the completion of the by-election, and as such is an MP for UKIP.

Just a month after the defection of Carswell, a second Conservative MP - the MP for Rochester and Strood Mark Reckless - announced his defection to the party at UKIP's annual conference in Doncaster.[158]

On 30 September 2014, Richard Barnes, the Deputy Mayor of London, who served until 2012, joined UKIP.[159]

Defections from UKIP

Former television host Robert Kilroy-Silk who was elected as a UKIP MEP for the East Midlands in 2004 quit UKIP in 2005 he said he was ashamed to have joined the party, which he labelled as a "joke". Kilroy-Silk also said "I'm embarrassed with its allies in Europe,". At the time, the then UKIP leader Roger Knapman said he would "break open the champagne", adding: "It was nice knowing him, now 'goodbye'." Kilroy-Silk later formed Veritas [160]

David Campbell Bannerman defected from UKIP to the Tories on 24 May 2011. 'He said he had been "impressed" by David Cameron's leadership while UKIP was beset by "internal fighting" and was not a "credible" political force.'[161]

Marta Andreasen defected from UKIP to the Conservative Party in February 2013, describing leader Nigel Farage as "a Stalinist" who was "anti-women".[162] Previously Andreasen has called for current UKIP leader Nigel Farage to resign over poor local election results in May 2011.[57]


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.[163] Sinclaire was subsequently expelled from UKIP for refusing to be part of the EFD group.[163] 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.[164]

Mike Nattrass failed a candidate assessment test in August 2013 and was deselected by the party for the 2014 European election.[165] 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.[166] 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."[167] 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.[168][169] 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.[170] Bloom sits as an independent MEP, but remains a member of UKIP.[171]

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."[172][173]

Election results

House of Commons

House of Commons of the United Kingdom
Election year # of total votes  % of overall vote # of seats won
1997[174] 105,722 Increase 0.3% Increase 0 Steady
2001[175] 390,563 Increase 1.5% Increase 0 Steady
2005[176] 603,298 Increase 2.2% Increase 0 Steady
2010[177] 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[178] 155,487 Increase 1% Increase
0 / 87
8 Increase
1999[179] 696,057 Increase 6.7% Increase
3 / 87
4 Increase
2004[180] 2,650,768 Increase 16.1% Increase
12 / 78
3 Increase
2009[181] 2,498,226 Decrease 16.6% Increase
13 / 72
2 Increase
2014[83] 4,376,635 Increase 27.5% Increase
24 / 73
1 Increase

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.[182]

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.[183] 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.[184]

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".[185]

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.[186]


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.[187] By July 2013, the figure grew to 30,000[188] before ending the year at 32,500.[189] In 2014, the number was 36,000 on 22 April,[190] by 7 May reached 37,000[191] and on 19 May, less than a fortnight later and only three days before the 2014 European Parliament election, rose to 38,000.[192] At UKIP's 2014 annual conference held in Doncaster, UKIP's Communities Spokesman Amjad Bashir announced that membership had grown to 48,623, more than tripling since the 2010 general election.[2]

[193] Year
2010 15,535
2011 17,184
2012 19,500
2013 30,312
2014 48,623

Parties created by former UKIP members


Veritas - Latin for "truth" - which has been described as a breakaway party from UKIP,[194] 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.[195] (Damian Hockney and Peter Hulme-Cross had been elected to the London Assembly in June 2004 as UKIP representatives, then switched to Veritas).

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.[196] 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.[197] Three former UKIP councillors on Lincolnshire County Council have also joined the party.[198]

We Demand a Referendum

We Demand a Referendum is a British political party launched by the former UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclaire in June 2012.[199]

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.[200]

One London

After the failure of Veritas, Damian Hockney and Peter Hulme formed One London on 1 September 2005. One London was registered as a party in November 2005 and was de-registered in November 2008.[201]

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.[202]

See also


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Further reading

External links