Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Former Thatcher aide to run UKIP election campaign

James Pryor
UKIP described the hiring of James Pryor as a "fantastic coup"

The UK Independence Party has appointed a former adviser to Conservative prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major to run its election campaign.

James Pryor said it was an "exciting time" to join UKIP, which came second in last year's European election.

He promised a "robust" campaign ahead of polling, expected to be on 6 May.

Mr Pryor previously advised former South African President FW de Klerk during the country's 1994 general election, won by Nelson Mandela.

He was head of presentation for the Conservative Party under Mrs Thatcher and Mr Major, from 1990 to 1994, later working for Sir James Goldsmith's anti-EU Referendum Party.

'Credible alternative'

UKIP leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch said: "Having come second at the European election, beating both Labour and the Lib Dems, we have already demonstrated that UKIP is now a major force in British politics.

"The general election is an opportunity for UKIP to cement the party's credentials and former electoral success, once again providing voters in Britain with a credible alternative to the major political parties at the ballot box."

He said Mr Pryor had an "undisputed pedigree in electioneering, both here in the UK and overseas, as well as a wealth of understanding of the structures and mechanisms of modern political campaigning".

"Having James join us is a fantastic coup for the party and he will begin work in shaping UKIP's election campaign immediately."

Mr Pryor said: "The next few weeks are going to an exciting time, not only in terms of mapping out the shape of the campaign ahead, but also in defining the campaign's key platforms and ensuring every aspect of the party's structure is fully integrated into the campaign effort."

Mr Pryor has also worked in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Lesotho and the Bahamas.

UKIP, which wants the UK to withdraw from the EU, took 13 seats at the European elections but has no MPs at Westminster.

Former leader Nigel Farage is running for the seat of Buckingham at the next election, where he hopes to oust Commons Speaker John Bercow.



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