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The United Kingdom Independence Party (commonly known as UKIP, roughly yoo-kip) is a right-wing conservative, eurosceptic political party. Its principal aim is the withdrawal of the United Kingdommarker from the European Union.

UKIP currently holds thirteen seats in the European Parliamentmarker and two in the House of Lordsmarker (the latter due to the defection of Conservative peers). It also has around 100 local councillors on principal authorities, town and parish councils. It claimed a membership of 14,630 on 31 December 2008.

In the 2009 European elections, UKIP came second in the UK, beating the governing Labour Party but although the share of the vote increased by 0.4%, to 16.5%, the number of people voting UKIP dropped from 2,650,768 in 2004 to 2,498,226 in 2009, to give it a total of thirteen seats in the European Parliament.

UKIP's current leader is Baron Pearson of Rannoch, who was elected as leader on the 27th November 2009, following the decision of Nigel Farage to stand down from the position.

History

Founding and early years

UKIP was founded in 1993 by Alan Sked and other members of the all-party Anti-Federalist League. Its primary objective was withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The new party attracted some 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 the leadership and left the party, which was, he said, 'doomed to remain on the political fringes'. However, Goldsmith died soon after the election and his Referendum Party was dissolved, with a resulting influx of new UKIP supporters. The leadership election was won by 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 the leader, Michael 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 Commissionmarker. Ordinary party members forced the resignation of both Holmes and the entire NEC and Jeffrey Titford was subsequently elected leader. Holmes resigned from the party itself in March 2000. There was a legal battle when he tried to continue as an independent MEP until resigning from the European Parliament in December 2002, when he was 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 Parliamentmarker 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.

Robert Kilroy-Silk

In late 2004, reports in the mainstream UK press speculated on if or when former Labour Party MP and chat-show host Robert Kilroy-Silk would take control of the party. These reports 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 UKIP's forcing the Conservatives into fourth place in Hartlepool).

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. However, the next day, on Breakfast with Frost, he criticised Knapman's leadership. After further disagreement with the leadership Kilroy-Silk resigned the UKIP whip in the European Parliament on 27 October 2004. Initially he remained a member, while seeking a bid for the party leadership. However, this was not successful, and Kilroy-Silk resigned completely from UKIP on 20 January 2005, calling it a "joke". Two weeks later, he founded his own party, Veritas, taking several UKIP members, including both London Assembly members, with him. Kilroy-Silk has subsequently resigned from Veritas.

Ashley Mote

In May 2007, UKIP MEP Ashley Mote was found guilty of 21 charges of fraud. Mote was found guilty of eight charges of false accounting, eight of obtaining a money transfer by deception, four of evading liability and one of failing to notify a change of circumstances, which meant that he had fraudulently received "thousands of pounds" in benefits.

Bob Spink

The party gained its first MP when Bob Spink, who had been sitting as an Independent Conservative, defected in April 2008, however in November 2008 he was redesignated as an Independent, on the grounds that UKIP had no 'whip' and has since denied joining UKIP.

Controversy over proposed constitution changes

In December 2008 the NEC proposed two significant amendments to the UKIP Constitution, to be voted on by UKIP members. However, the amendments caused controversy in the party, some members claiming that their purpose was to prevent members from voting on party business and to allow the unelected Party Chairman to expel members without a hearing.

On 29 January 2009 nine prominent UKIP members published a letter urging party members not to back the proposals, claiming that their only purpose was to centralise more power within the leadership and to reduce democracy and accountability in the party. The members who signed the letter included the former party leader, Roger Knapman MEP, the economist Tim Congdon, the former Conservative MPs Sir Richard Body and Piers Merchant and members of the party NEC Delroy Young, Dr David Abbot and Dr Eric Edmond. The proposals were defeated.

Nigel Farage expenses disclosure

In May 2009, the Guardian newspaper reported that UKIP's leader, Nigel Farage had said in a speech to the Foreign Press Association that over ten years as a member of the European Parliament he used nearly £2 million of taxpayers' money in expenses and allowances, on top of his £64,000 a year salary.

Former Europe Minister Denis MacShane said this showed that Farage was "happy to line his pockets with gold." Farage called this a "misrepresentation" but welcomed the focus on the issue of MEP expenses, claiming that "Over a five year term each and every one of Britain's 78 MEPs gets about £1 million. It is used to employ administrative staff, run their offices and to travel back and forth between their home, Brussels and Strasbourg."

2009 European Election campaign

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." The following day, 29 March, he was expelled from the Conservative Party.

On 25 April 2009, the Daily Telegraph reported that on the basis of polling evidence, Labour MPs feared being beaten into fourth place by the UK Independence Party in the European Parliament elections, and believed that if this happened, the Prime Minister would have to resign. UKIP subsequently would overtake Labour but a poor Liberal Democrat performance would allow Labour to remain second, and the Prime Minister did not resign.

On 15 May 2009, a YouGov poll conducted for The Sun newspaper showed UKIP as having 15% of the vote for the impending European Elections, only 5% behind the Labour Party. The surge in support was accredited by The Sun to public despair stemming from the MPs' expenses crisis.

2009 leadership election

On 4th September 2009, Nigel Farage made clear his intent to resign as leader of UKIP in order to focus on his Parliamentary campaign against Speaker John Bercow in Buckingham , thus prompting a leadership contest.The candidates standing were Nikki Sinclaire , Alan Wood, Baron Pearson of Rannoch Former Tory peer favourite for UKIP leadership, The Daily Telegraph, 15 September 2009, Gerard Batten and Mike Nattrass.

The ballot closed on 26th November 2009, and Pearson was elected, taking almost half of the votes cast.

Unlawful donations

UKIP accepted over £360 000 in donations from bookmaker Alan Bown and Nightech Limited between 2004 and 2006. The Electoral Commission took the party to court over the matter, as Bown was not on the electoral register and thus not allowed to make donations to a political party. A judge in Westminster Magistrates Court ordered the party to repay £14 481. However, after an appeal by the Electoral Commission, the party was ordered to repay the full amount. The total costs for the party are estimated to be over £750 000 when counting in legal fees. Statement on court of appeal judgement on donations to UKIP, The Electoral Commission, 18 October 2009 UKIP to forfeit 350 000 in donations after Electoral Commission victory, The Daily Telegraph, 19 October 2009

Policies

Although UKIP's original raison d'être was withdrawal from the European Union it was felt that the public perception of the party as a single-issue party - despite issuing a full manifesto - was damaging electoral progress and Nigel 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'.

UKIP has subsequently produced detailed policy documents on taxation and education.

Economic policies

UKIP's economic stance is based on what it claims to be the need for much lower taxation in order to compete internationally, a position which has been reinforced since the election of Nigel Farage as leader in September 2006. UKIP promote economic liberalism. They propose combining income tax and national insurance into a single Flat Tax at 33%, which they claim would take 4.5 million lower paid workers out of the income tax system completely. UKIP also proposes cuts in corporation taxes and the abolition of inheritance taxes.

The party also advocates closer economic ties with the Commonwealth.

Identity cards & civil liberties

UKIP are against the planned introduction of identity cards. In December 2004, UKIP affiliated to the anti-ID card campaign, No2ID. Concern for civil liberties also led UKIP to oppose the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, which gives additional powers to the UK Home Secretary in broadly defined "emergency situations". UKIP's Jeffrey Titford MEP condemned the bill as "totalitarian".

Climate change

UKIP favours an expansion of nuclear power for reasons of energy security as well as to cut carbon emissions. It does not think large-scale cuts of carbon emissions are necessary, and also argues that plans to invest in wind power are uneconomic. The party's enthusiasm for Carbon Capture and Storage and "clean coal" has prompted considerable criticism from environmentalists.

UKIP is sceptical of global warming as a product of human activity and suggests instead that the current warming is similar to previous geological cycles.

Education policy

UKIP's policy paper on education says it regards the aim of education as being to bring out the talents and abilities of each individual child. UKIP wants to give schools more freedom to determine their own direction so that parents have a more meaningful choice. It supports education vouchers for parents; would reform the National Curriculum to give schools a greater say over subjects taught; and would abolish nationwide testing of children before the age of 11. UKIP supports grammar schools equally with the other kinds of state-funded schools.

UKIP have condemned the Badman Review which recommends greater regulation of home educators in England

Relationship with other parties

The Conservatives

Many prominent members of UKIP are former members of the Conservative Party, such as former UKIP leader Roger Knapman - other former Conservative MPs include Jonathan Aitken, Sir Richard Body, Michael Brotherton, John Browne and Christopher Gill. The late Piers Merchant stood as a candidate for UKIP in the 2004 European Elections and was a party official during the last 5 years of his life.

A recent ConservativeHome survey revealed that 43% of surveyed members of the Conservative Party felt that UKIP was the closest party to their views (apart from the Conservative Party itself), with 66% either supporting or sympathising with the Better Off Out campaign. Six Conservative MPs have signed the Better Off Out petition.

In April 2006 Conservative Party leader David Cameron called UKIP members "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" while talking on LBC radio in London after a question about UKIP using the Freedom of Information Act to force the disclosure of donors. UKIP demanded an apology for the "closet racists" remark and threatened legal action for slander, although this was later dropped, on the grounds that to sue the party would have to prove loss, and the comment had actually had a positive effect for UKIP (due to increased publicity for the small party). Conservative MP Bob Spink criticised his leader's remarks, as did the pro-Conservative Daily Telegraph.

On 9 January 2007, two former Conservative peers defected from the Conservative Party to UKIP. Lords Pearson and Willoughby de Broke joined UKIP as they felt the Conservative Party was not producing policy to support their beliefs. They had previously had the Conservative whip withdrawn when they had encouraged voters to support UKIP. Other high-profile Conservatives have defected to UKIP, but this was the first example of sitting parliamentarians doing so. On 20 January 2007 the Earl of Dartmouth, also a former Conservative member of the House of Lordsmarker, defected. On 22 April 2008 Conservative MP Bob Spink defected to UKIP, giving the party its first representative in the House of Commonsmarker. Spink didn't actually join from the Conservatives as he had been expelled from the party a few weeks earlier due to a dispute with his local party branch.

Traditional Unionist Voice

UKIP has an electoral pact in Northern Irelandmarker with Traditional Unionist Voice, a hard-line splinter group from the Democratic Unionist Party that opposes the St Andrews Agreement and is led by former MEP Jim Allister.

British National Party

Buster Mottram, a UKIP member who claimed to represent the BNP, made an offer of a pact between the BNP and UKIP for the 2009 Euro elections after turning up uninvited at a UKIP executive meeting. According to the UKIP website, Mottram "had to be escorted out by uniformed police officers."UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the BBC that there had been an attempt "over many months" to infiltrate and try to "demoralise" UKIP members into thinking there was no future without a deal with the BNP. The BNP confirmed to the BBC that it was behind the approach but later stated that Buster Mottram had never been a member of the BNP and claimed that the pact was his idea alone.

Other political parties

Aidan Rankin, co-author of the party's 2001 manifesto, was once involved with the Third Way, which was founded by former members of the National Front.

Current representatives

UKIP has two representatives in the Parliament of the United Kingdommarker: Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Willoughby de Broke in the House of Lordsmarker. It has also had a representative in the House of Commons, Bob Spink, who had the Conservative whip suspended, and subsequently joined UKIP on the 22nd April 2008. In November 2008 he was redesignated as an Independent, on the grounds that UKIP had no 'whip' and has since denied joining them. UKIP has around 100 district, town and parish councillors. Although the party does not provide a list of councillors, an old unofficial list is maintained on the British Democracy Forum.

Thirteen UKIP MEPs were elected to the European Parliament in 2009. They are:

East Midlands Derek Clark
East of England David Campbell-Bannerman, Stuart Agnew
London Gerard Batten
North West England Paul Nuttall
South East England Nigel Farage, Marta Andreasen
South West England

Trevor Colman, Earl of Dartmouth
Wales John Bufton
West Midlands Mike Nattrass, Nikki Sinclaire
Yorkshire and the Humber Godfrey Bloom


Leaders of UKIP since 1993



UKIP in the European Parliament

Grouping in the 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 MEP from the UK, Polandmarker, Denmarkmarker and Swedenmarker founded a new European Parliament group called Independence and Democracy from the old Europe of Democracies and Diversities group. However, following the European Parliament election, 2009, where Eurosceptic parties from Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere lost all representation, the ID group was dissolved.

UKIP have now formed a new right-wing grouping called Europe of Freedom and Democracy.

Revelations about Jacques Barrot and others

On 18 November 2004, Nigel Farage announced in the European Parliament that Jacques Barrot, the French Commissioner designate, had been barred from elected office in France for 2 years, after being convicted in 2000 of embezzling £2 million from government funds and diverting it into the coffers of his party. The president of the Parliament, Josep Borrell, enjoined him to retract his comments under threat of "legal consequences". However, the following day it was confirmed that Barrot had received an 8 month suspended jail sentence in the case, and that this had been quickly expunged by the amnesty decided by Chirac and his parliamentary majority. The Commission's president, Jose Manuel Barroso admitted that he had not known of Barrot's criminal record when appointing him as a Commission vice-president. The Socialist and Liberal groups in the European Parliament then joined UKIP in demanding the sacking of Barrot for failing to disclose the conviction during his confirmation hearings.

During the spring of 2005, UKIP formally requested that the European Commission disclose where the individual Commissioners had spent their holidays. The Commission refused, on the basis that the Commissioners had a right of privacy. The German newspaper Die Welt reported that the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso had spent a week on the yacht of Greek shipping billionaire Spiro Latsis. It then emerged that this had occurred only a month before the Commission approved 10.3 million euro of Greek state aid for Latsis' shipping company. It also became known that Peter Mandelson, a member of the Commission, had accepted a trip to Jamaicamarker from an unrevealed source.Farage then persuaded around 75 MEPs from across the political spectrum to back a motion of no confidence in Barroso, in order to compel Barroso to appear before the European Parliament to be questioned on the issue. The motion was successfully tabled on 12 May 2005, and Barroso appeared before Parliament at a debate on 26 May 2005. The motion was heavily defeated. A Conservative MEP, Roger Helmer, was expelled from his group, the European People's Party - European Democrats (EPP-ED) in the middle of the debate by that group's leader Hans-Gert Poettering as a result of his support for the UKIP motion.

In January 2007, Joseph Daul was elected the new leader of the centre-right European People's Party–European Democrats (EPP-ED), the European Parliamentary grouping which at the time included the British Conservatives. UKIP revealed that Daul had been under judicial investigation in France since 2004 as part of an inquiry into the alleged misuse of public funds worth €16 million (£10.6 million) by French farming unions." It was not suggested that Daul had personally benefited, but he was accused of "complicity and concealment of the abuse of public funds." Daul accused Farage of publicising the investigation for political reasons and threatened to sue, but did not do so.

UKIP speeches criticising Tony Blair and Gordon Brown

On 20 December 2005, Tony Blair addressed the European Parliament in a debate to round up the UK's six-month presidency. Nigel Farage responded to Blair with a speech in which he claimed that the result of just-concluded EU budget negotiations had been "game, set and match to President Chirac", adding that Mr Blair had "been outclassed and outplayed at every turn".

In 2009 Gordon Brown, who had succeeded Blair as British Prime Minister, also addressed the European Parliament and again Nigel Farage responded on behalf of UKIP, with a speech in which he attacked Brown, claiming he had reneged on an election pledge to hold a referendum before ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon.

See also



References

  1. Electoral Commission database: UKIP Statement of Accounts, 31 December 2008
  2. BBC News - Lord Pearson elected leader of UK Independence Party
  3. Farage to quit as UKIP Leader, UKIP website, Retrieved 4 September, 2009
  4. MEP found guilty of fraud charges BBC News
  5. Robert Winnett and Rosa Prince, "Tory rebel Bob Spink becomes Ukip's first MP", Daily Telegraph, 21 April 2008.
  6. http://www.ukip.org/content/latest-news/847-bob-spink-mp
  7. http://www.echo-news.co.uk/search/4179128.Tory__UKIP__Now_I_m_just_an_inde_says_MP_Bob
  8. juniusonukip, [1], 29 January 2009
  9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/24/mps-expenses-ukip-nigel-farage
  10. http://www.ukip.org/content/latest-news/1053-mcshane-misses-the-point-on-expenses
  11. http://www.ukip.org/content/latest-news/1068-mep-expense-spotlight-turns-focus-to-eu
  12. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5996975.ece
  13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7971102.stm
  14. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/budget/5216307/Tony-Blair-opposes-new-50-pence-tax-rate-for-high-earners.html
  15. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2430063.ece
  16. Farage to quit as UKIP leader
  17. [http://www.yourmep.org/leadership.html Sinclaire to stand for leadership, 11 September 2009
  18. BBC News - Lord Pearson elected leader of UK Independence Party
  19. Will Woodward, "Ukip trebles candidates for local elections", The Guardian, 11 April 2007
  20. UK Independence Party
  21. ukipeducation.pdf
  22. http://www.ukip.org/content/ukip-policies/726-ukip-policies-in-brief
  23. Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (c. 36)
  24. http://ukip.org/abc_news/gen12.php?t=1&id=974
  25. UKIP: Environmental Policy, 2007 (accessed 17 October 2007
  26. UKIP slams home education review Paul Nuttall, UKIP Chairman, MEP, June 2009
  27. ConservativeHome's ToryDiary: Tory members are closest to UKIP
  28. "UKIP deserves better" Daily Telegraph, 5 April 2006
  29. BBC News: "Conservative peer defects to UKIP", 20 January 2007
  30. BBC News: "Ex-Tory MP Spink defects to UKIP", 22 April 2008
  31. Allister gathers national support
  32. David Mitchell, "Putting the boot in on friendship", The Observer, 9 November 2008
  33. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7706857.stm
  34. http://bnp.org.uk/category/news/page/3/
  35. http://www.newstatesman.com/200406140013
  36. [2]
  37. New list of UKIP councillors
  38. http://newswww.bbc.net.uk/2/hi/europe/4032113.stm
  39. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/19/wukip19.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/11/19/ixworld.html
  40. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/21/nbook21.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/11/21/ixhome.html
  41. http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article223215.ece
  42. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-1575180,00.html
  43. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000085&sid=aFq2hOeCcYZc&refer=europe
  44. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4578261.stm
  45. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/13/wdaul13.xml
  46. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grLmZGlzBW8
  47. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1waGanUNt0


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