By Managing Director Matt Gillow
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is a right-wing, ‘populist’ party, currently run by Paul Nuttall. At the time of writing (April 2017) it has no members of parliament, Douglas Carswell (it’s only MP) having recently stepped aside to serve as an independent. However, UKIP is thrice represented in the House of Lords and has twenty MEP’s – though these positions will cease to exist as and when the UK leaves the European Union.
UKIP was formed in 1991, as the Anti-Federalist League, by historian Alan Sked. Two years later, in 1993, it was renamed UKIP. Originally founded as a single issue party – to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union. Until 1997, it was eclipsed by the ‘Referendum Party,’ until the latter dissolved and Nigel Farage ousted Alan Sked as leader. Under Farage, UKIP began to develop a wider policy platform – including generally traditional views on policy such as LGBT rights, and a staunch anti-open border stance.
UKIP often gets a bad rap in the press – and scandals on race and homosexuality plague them. This is potentially thanks to Sked, who, upon being ousted from his leadership, left the party claiming that it had been infiltrated by racists and BNP ‘spies.’
The party is loved and hated in equal measure for its key role in taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union in the 2016 referendum. UKIP’s pressure on then-Prime Minister David Cameron to stage a referendum, and its subsequent campaign, is cited by many intellectuals and journalists as imperative to the eventual result. However, since then – it is argued that UKIP has suffered from an identity crisis, particularly with Paul Nuttall replacing Farage as leader; a recent TalkPolitics poll saw 84% of those surveyed say that, since Brexit, UKIP was now obsolete and irrelevant. Despite this, the UKIP support continues to claim that it remains relevant to modern politics, and indeed saw a surge of initial support in February’s Stoke by-election – though the seat was ultimately retained by Labour.
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