On Thursday 2 May the UK Independence Party (UKIP), led by Nigel Farage, gained 23% of the national vote and more than 130 seats in the local elections in England [Guardian]
After many of the results had come through, David Cameron withdrew a claim, made in 2006, that UKIP are 'fruitcakes', saying: Look, it's not good insulting a political party that people have chosen to vote for. ... we need to show respect for people who've taken the choice to support this party.' [Guardian 2013; Guardian 2006]
Cameron's change of tone is almost explicitly tactical. It certainly isn't logical. Nothing about UKIP has changed recently, except the extent of their electoral success. If they were fruitcakes in 2006, then fruitcakes they still are. I myself think 'fruitcake' is a rather inappropriate tag for them. It almost makes them sound cuddly. They are not.Some landmarks in the history of UKIP
1991 Alan Sked, a historian at the London School of Economics, formed the Anti-Federalist League, a group opposed to the Treaty of Maastricht, which established the European Union.
1993 Sked and others founded the UK Independence Party. The party's primary aim was to take Britain out of the EU. [Guardian]
1997 Sked resigned from UKIP. In 2010 he said, in a letter to the Times: 'I founded UKIP as a tolerant, liberal and democratic party. By 1997 I could already see the far-right writing on the wall and quit as party leader and member. It is a decision that I have never regretted...' [Junius on UKIP blog]
1999 Three UKIP MEPs were elected, including Nigel Farage, a City commodities broker.
Soon afterwards, a photograph was published showing Farage talking to two members of the British National Party (BNP): Mark Deavin, author of a paper that argues that what he calls "the mass immigration of non-Europeans into every White country on earth" was the result of an international Jewish conspiracy, and Tony Lecomber, jailed for three years in 1986 for possessing explosives, and again in 1991 for stabbing a Jewish schoolteacher. Farage admitted having lunch with Deakin, but had 'no recollection' of meeting Lecomber. The photograph was taken in the summer of 1997. A Guardian report stated that 'Farage ... is a man who often used words such as "nigger" and "nig-nog" in the pub after committee meetings.' [Guardian]
2004 UKIP took third place in the EU elections, with 12 MEPs elected. [Guardian]
New UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom quickly achieved a kind of fame when he put himself up for a seat on the parliament's committee for women's rights and promptly announced: "I am going to promote men's rights." He stated: "I want to deal with women's issues, because I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough," explaining, "I am here to represent Yorkshire women, who always have dinner on the table when you get home." Then he clarified his views on local television: "The more women's rights you have, it's actually a bar to their employment .... No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age." [Guardian]( Cut for length )