Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 16:03 UK

Farage: UKIP not just angry men

Nigel Farage
Mr Farage believes UKIP can build on its 2004 Euro election result

The UK Independence Party is more than a group of "angry old men" and has more young, women and ethnic minority candidates than ever, its leader says.

Nigel Farage also said reforms to the party had been aimed at challenging the idea it was a racist party.

"It was very damaging, it did stick, it was never true," he told the BBC.

He also denied that the party's high point was behind it, saying it could better third place in the 2004 European elections by beating Labour this year.

"They said that in '99 - we won three seats from nowhere in '99 and were told that would never be repeated, we did phenomenally well last time round," he told BBC One's Andrew Marr programme.

'Proper debate'

The party's stance - which he described as being against political union with Europe, but in favour of close trade - was now the majority British view, he said.

"The challenge for us is to try and make sure over the course of the next four weeks we have a proper national debate."

We have a faction of UKIP, of what I would call generally angry old men, who would like the party to be negative in everything it does
Nigel Farage

He said the party had been accused of being "very right wing", which he said was not true and he had been trying to shake off that image.

"Of our candidates standing for us in these European elections, we've got young people, we've got many more women, we've got five black and Asian candidates, it's a very much more diverse UKIP."

He agreed there had been some disagreements within the party - including about his own leadership.

'Broken faith'

"We have a faction of UKIP, of what I would call generally angry old men, who would like the party to be negative in everything it does - I'm not being negative," he said.

"If some people don't like that approach, well so be it."

UKIP won 16% of the vote in the 2004 European elections and beat the Liberal Democrats into fourth place.

But since then it has lost three of its 12 MEPs, including television celebrity Robert Kilroy-Silk, who left to form his own party.

Another, Ashley Mote, was convicted of benefit fraud and Tom Wise has denied charges of false accounting and money laundering - neither now sits as a UKIP MEP.

Mr Farage said the question was how they were dealt with. "We haven't tried to brush things under the carpet, we haven't tried to protect anybody," he said.

"When people have broken faith with us, we have simply got rid of them - which is a marked contrast to the way that the big parties are handling the current expenses crisis."

The party faces competition from new Eurosceptic parties such as the trade union-backed NO2EU and the pan-European Libertas, which wants wholesale reform of the EU rather than withdrawal.

But Mr Farage told the BBC: "I'm confident we will do very well - so well in fact I think we have got a good chance of beating the Labour Party."



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EUROPEAN ELECTION RESULTS

MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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BBC political editor Nick Robinson Nick Robinson
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Nigel Farage UKIP: A hell of an achievement

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