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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Kilroy opens UKIP election push
Robert Kilroy-Silk
Kilroy-Silk is standing in the East Midlands
The UK Independence Party launched its European election campaign with an attack by its star candidate Robert Kilroy-Silk on MPs and the press.

The ex-BBC chatshow host hailed himself as a man of the people unlike the "Metropolitan political elite" of journalists and politicians.

UKIP has three MEPS out of 84 and is calling for Britain to leave the EU.

Mr Kilroy-Silk, who is standing in the East Midlands, refused to say whether he has ambitions to return as an MP.

I don't want my grandchildren to grow up in a country called Europe
Robert Kilroy-Silk
UKIP candidate

The main theme of the party's European elections manifesto is for Britain to leave the EU.

At its central London campaign launch on Wednesday, UKIP gave a first showing of its election broadcast, which includes mocking European stereotypes and insists the country should say "no" to EU rule, corruption, unlimited immigration and bureaucracy.

Voters were urged not to wait for a referendum on the EU constitution, but to use the 10 June polls to register their discontent now.

'Self government'

But while UKIP concedes it does not have many women or ethnic minorities standing in the election, the party's leader Roger Knapman insists it is not associated with the British National Party.

Mr Kilroy-Silk, who was a Labour MP for 12 years in the Merseyside constituency of Knowsley from 1974, said he had voted against joining the common market in 1975 and nothing had convinced him since to change his mind.

Turning on politicians, he accused: "They lied to us then and they are lying to us now."

UKIP's poster launch
UKIP hopes to win 10 Euro seats
He said the EU had become more bureaucratic and corrupt.

While he loved the Spanish, Dutch and the Danish he said he did "not want to be governed by them. I want to be governed by my own people".

Mr Kilroy-Silk, who quit his daily chat show in January after making comments in a newspaper about Arabs, said about a quarter of a million people had been through his TV studio.

He said those he had met then and since on the streets had told him they were "fed up" with "political correctness" and "with being lied to".

Labelling

Denouncing the "Metropolitan political elite", he said the general opinion was: "They are not listening to us. They are not taking any account of what we want. They are not representing our interests.

"They want their country back and this campaign is about doing that."

Clearly the people who I met in the East Midlands don't have the view of me that you have - they see me as one of them
Robert Kilroy-Silk

Mr Kilroy-Silk questioned whether Tony Blair's call for Britain to be at the heart of Europe meant "cuddling up to Chirac" or "smoozing with Schroeder"

"I want my grandchildren to grow up in a country called Britain - I don't want my grandchildren to grow up in a country called Europe," he said.

Mr Kilroy-Silk then rounded on journalists, accusing them of talking in "the same language as the politicians".

"You label people, you destroy people by calling them right wing or extremists. You're all out of step ..." he said.

"Clearly the people who I met in the East Midlands don't have the view of me that you have. They see me as one of them. They see me talking their language."

Spotlight

But asked whether he had plans to return to Westminster as an MP, Mr Kilroy-Silk's response was coy. "[One] step at a time," he said.

UKIP took 7% of the vote in the 1999 European polls, but a reduction in the number of British seats in the European Parliament could make it hard for the party to achieve its aim of 10 seats this time.

The party says it has assembled a 2m war chest for its campaign - five times its spending in the last poll.

It has already launched its poster campaign for the elections, urging voters to "say no" to the European Union. They will be displayed on 1,800 billboards.

Among those working on its media campaign are publicist Max Clifford and Dick Morris, former adviser to Bill Clinton.




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