THE UK Independence Party will set out to destroy the British National Party at the next general election, one of its leaders said yesterday.
Nigel Farage, the leader of the UKIP’s group of 11 MEPs in the European Parliament, told The Times of his party’s plans to win a seat in Westminster next year.
The party is keen for Robert Kilroy-Silk, its most prominent politician, to stand in the most winnable constituency, backed by a full manifesto. Another strategy is to tackle the far-right BNP head-on, ruining their chances by poaching more moderate voters.
“There is only one party in Britain that can stop the BNP and that’s UKIP,” said Mr Farage. “Why should we be frightened of that?” One reason for the UKIP to be frightened is that this is a highly sensitive area for the party, which, as Mr Farage mentions, has suffered the gibe of being “BNP in blazers”.
Declaring their distance from the BNP while not putting off voters swinging from either the BNP or any of the main political parties is one of their first challenges.
“The UKIP is a country mile away from the BNP on any issue. We’re not racist, we’re for free trade,” he said. “The BNP is authoritarian, whereas the UKIP is basically a liberal party, which used to be classed as left wing; now it’s seen as right wing,” he said.
The UKIP were the fourth largest party in the European elections in June, gaining 2.7 million votes to the BNP’s 800,000. Mr Farage believes that a substantial number of the BNP voters were anti-immigration Eurosceptics who were not comfortable with the racism of the BNP but had not heard of the UKIP. Once its membership had been depleted, the BNP would wither as it lost momentum, he said.
“All the Labour Party and the Tories do is encourage the BNP. They’ve created the BNP,” said Mr Farage. “People have justifiable concerns about levels of immigration which they ignore. If the UKIP were to take half the BNP vote, but do so because they allowed people to express their anxieties about immigration but without having to vote for a party that is violent and racist, then we should not be frightened of that.” ...................................