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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Q&A: UK Independence Party
Robert Kilroy-Silk and Joan Collins
Robert Kilroy-Silk and Joan Collins are among UKIP's supporters
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) have done spectacularly well in the European elections, coming third in front of the Liberal Democrats. BBC News Online takes a closer look at their history and policies.

When was it formed?

UKIP started life as a little-known organisation called the anti-federalist league - set up in 1991 to fight against the Maastrict treaty.

Several members of the league got together on 3 September 1993 to form UKIP.

But in the early years, the party lived in the shadow of Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party.

Where are they based?

Birmingham.

How many members do they have?

Between 20,000 and 22,000, the party say.

Have they had success before?

Mixed, they got 1.2% of the vote in the 1994 European elections, then had a breakthrough in 1999 when they landed three seats with 7% of the vote.

But at the 2001 general election the party polled just 1.5%.

Where do they get their money from?

They spent 2m on their campaign this year - more than five times their expenditure in 1999.

Most of their cash comes from wealthy private donors, the most well known being former Tory Eurosceptic Paul Sykes, a Yorkshire property millionaire, and retired Kent bookie Alan Bown.

In 1999 they got 50,000 from Wolverhampton Wanderers chairman Jack Hayward.

Who supports them?

Along with new celebrity MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk, actress Joan Collins also campaigned for the party.

They also have support from ex-cricketer Geoffrey Boycott, disgraced ex-Tory minister Jonathan Aitken and astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.

What do they want?

Complete withdrawal from the European Union.

They say Britain's currency, legal system, nationality, right to free speech, police and armed forces are threatened by continued membership of the EU.

UKIP say they want the EU to be replaced with trade agreements and treaties with individual countries.

What other policies do they have?

During these European elections they stood on the single issue of the UK pulling out of the EU. They urged the public to back them and so send a message to Tony Blair and Europe that the UK "will not meekly surrender to European federalism".

It said that a big vote would also de-rail the proposed European Union constitution.

At the last General Election policies included plans to save money by cutting bureaucracy in the NHS and Social Services and to help pensioners by raising the state pension by 5 per week.

On education they backed more traditional teaching methods and would let state schools select pupils by ability.

Their environmental policy sees them encourage alternative energy sources, and calls for environmental 'hit squads', to tour the country and hunt out pollution.




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