With the results of the European elections in and UKIP having received the most votes, just as the polls suggested, this report intends to give a little background and look at just why so many Britons are starting to support a party which is (according to The Sun’s Sunday Poll) still viewed by a quarter of us as ‘racist’.

UKIP was founded in 1993 by Alan Sked – a professor of International History at the London School of Economics – alongside several other members of the cross party Anti-Federalist League which was set up in direct opposition to the Maastricht Treaty which created the European Union and led to the foundation of the Euro. Sked resigned as leader of the party following poor performance at the 1997 General Election, stating that the party contained members who ‘are racist and have been infected by the far right’. The UKIP we recognise today really came into existence when in 2010 the Charismatic Nigel Farage won his second  leadership election following the party’s failure to win a parliamentary seat in the Westminster Election.

One of the main causes given for the rise of UKIP into prominence is the growing discontent in the UK with mainstream politics caused by (amongst other things) the expenses scandal, the economic crisis and (less so now) growing anger at the state of affairs in Afghanistan. People are starting more and more to believe that none of the three main parties care about them and have their best interests at heart. Trust in politicians is at an all time low with an Ipsos MORI poll showing that MPs are trusted to be honest even less than bankers and estate agents. Though this is hardly a surprise when every time you turn on the TV to watch the news, you get bombarded with stories about how awful these people are, often motivated by not much else than the need to fill twenty-four hours of broadcast time seven days a week. It would be fair to point out though that with events such as the expenses scandal, politicians certainly haven’t helped themselves. Its easy to see why so many people are completely disillusioned with mainstream politics and have chosen to throw their support behind a party that promises to fight for them, especially when their words come from a skilled speaker like Farage who can make people believe in his arguments and is often considered the type of person you ‘would have a pint with’

Whilst a lot of UKIP’s gains can be put down to the failures of other parties to retain our trust, the use of fear tactics has been a signature of the party. UKIP’s most recent campaign drawing controversy with one of their posters depicting a finger pointing outwards with the caption ’26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?’  This particular poster has come in for criticism due to the leader’s own secretary being German, leading to people asking the inevitable question: ‘Isn’t that a job that could’ve gone to a British worker?’

UKIP have often come into criticism as ‘racist’ after several incidents involving influential members. Former UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom – in one of several comments that eventually lead to the party getting rid of him – referred to countries that receive Britain’s foreign aid as ‘Bongo Bongo Land’. Other Bloom highlights include referring to the women in the audience as ‘sluts’ at his own party conference and getting kicked out of the European Parliament chambers on several occasions for being drunk. Recently one of UKIP’s council election candidates (William Henwood) was forced to resign for his suggestion that comedian Lenny Henry should ‘go home’. As much as the party claims that these comments come from an eccentric minority, their 2010 manifesto suggested that that was far from the case as it promised to ‘scrap most equality and discrimination legislation’. Whether or not you believe UKIP are a racist party, it is clear that policies such as these are going to continue to attract people who think those comments are acceptable.

Whether you see UKIP as the voice of those ignored by the mainstream, or, to quote Prime Minister David Cameron in an interview with LBC Radio in 2006, ‘sort of a bunch of…fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists’. No party having done so well and seeing  their support continue to rise can be dismissed. UKIP are the choice of the millions of people who feel they can no longer trust the established political parties to be honest. They are the only party pushing for the 50 plus percent of people who say they want to leave the EU. That makes them a very clear and present danger to the mainstream parties.

What is your opinion on UKIP? Let us know in the comments!

Sources:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/

http://www.general-election-2010.co.uk/2010-general-election-manifestos/UKIP-Party-Manifesto-2010.pdf

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/sep/20/nigel-farage-godfrey-bloom-sluts-ukip

Jones, B & Norton, P (2013) Politics UK Eighth Edition