UKIP claims Thatcher mantle, has vote hope

LONDON Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:37am BST

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage poses in central London January 25, 2013. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage poses in central London January 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Paul Hackett

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters) - The leader of Britain's anti-European Union UK Independence Party said on Tuesday his movement was carrying the torch for the late Margaret Thatcher's views on Europe, saying he planned to cause a "political earthquake".

In his most detailed comments to date on his party's electoral strategy, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he hoped to build on surging poll ratings to make big gains in local elections on May 2, win European Parliament elections next year, and secure a "substantial number" of parliamentary seats in Britain in 2015.

The party holds no seats in the British parliament, but is represented in the European Parliament.

"There's a huge vacuum on the centre-right of British politics today and I think UKIP could be ... the catalysts over the course of the next few years for a really fundamental realignment of the way politics is structured in Britain," Farage told parliament reporters.

"I am leading a movement that is becoming a very successful modern different movement in British politics. My job is to change the entire nature of the national debate," he added, saying he hoped to alter the way the country was governed.

Once dismissed by Prime Minister David Cameron as "a party of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists", UKIP has seen its poll ratings surge to 17 percent after tapping into growing public disenchantment with the EU and unease over immigration levels.

Farage wants Britain to leave the EU and to halt what he calls "open-door immigration". Although UKIP has 12 lawmakers in the 754-member European Parliament, it does not yet have any MPs in the British parliament.

Farage's views on Europe and immigration have caused problems for Cameron, the leader of the ruling Conservative party. Some of Cameron's own members of parliament feel he has become too liberal and should be pushing the same policies.

For many of them, Thatcher, who died on April 8 and was Britain's longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century, remains an idol. Farage told them he had inherited Thatcher's ideological legacy.

"I cannot believe that a young Margaret Thatcher leaving Oxford (University) today would join the Conservative Party. I think she'd come and get involved with UKIP," he said.

"On Europe yes we are the true inheritors of Thatcher."

Farage, who dined with media mogul Rupert Murdoch earlier this year, on Tuesday echoed Murdoch's views on press regulation and on the identity of a possible successor to Cameron - Michael Gove, the minister for education.

He pointed to Canada's Reform Party as a model for success, saying critics who said UKIP would never enjoy electoral success in Britain should look at what the Canadian protest party had achieved.

"We're not there yet by a long chalk but don't think it can't happen under a first-past-the-post system because in Canada it did," he said.

"The Reform Party was subjected to the same degree of mockery and derision, but they became the biggest party in the Canadian parliament in the 1990s. They then staged a masterful reverse takeover of what was left of the conservative party."

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
Its economics that always makes or breaks political ambitions…

UKIP needs a partnership with an Independent (of UKIP) economics unit, which could present to the UK electorate a reassuring message that a UKIP vote would be a protest vote and a sensible vote combined.

If UKIP do that, then the established old order ar gonna get hammered!

A UKIP forming part of a coalition govt, not being beyond the realms of possibility for 2015.

Apr 23, 2013 10:59pm BST  --  Report as abuse
prismsuk wrote:
There is no single, more important policy needed than one guaranteeing our energy security. UKIP’s energy policy strongly supports nuclear power – good enough to get my vote.

UKIP needs to get behind the GE Hitachi offer to burn our plutonium stockpile using their PRISM reactor, and rid us of our proliferation risks. It’s payment by results – no successful outcome, no charge on taxpayers. It’s costing £80 million a year to store, care for and guard this material.

This political no-brainer decision needs making now – get behind it, Nigel.

Apr 24, 2013 2:26pm BST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.