Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Sunday, 16 May 2010 16:44 UK

Farage 'miscalculated' election

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage says he feels 'lucky to be alive' after crash

Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage says it was a "miscalculation" to try to unseat Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Farage, who was injured in an aircraft crash on the day of the general election, came third behind independent candidate John Stevens.

He said he had not realised how "popular" Mr Bercow was in Buckingham.

It comes as a Tory ex-colleague of Mr Bercow urged MPs to vote against him in Tuesday's Speaker elections.

Mr Farage, who continues to lead UKIP's MEPs in Brussels but whose role as party leader is filled by former Tory peer Lord Pearson, was attempting to gain his party its first MP at Westminster.


He chose to stand against Mr Bercow because Labour, the Conservatives and Lib Dems were not fielding candidates, as is the convention in the Speaker's constituency.

Parliament needs to be swept with a new broom throughout
Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP

But he told BBC One's Politics Show he had not counted on such strong local support for Mr Bercow.

He said: "He's somebody who is pretty unpopular amongst the Westminster set, amongst the journalists.

"He's not somebody who's liked and I wasn't to know just how popular John Bercow was with his constituents in Buckingham and that really is what shone out of that result.

He added: "So yeah you could say it was a miscalculation but, you know, you've got to try things in life."

'Lucky to be alive'

Mr Farage, who is recovering from broken ribs, a punctured lung, and with fractures to his sternum and spine, also spoke of how he felt "lucky to be alive" after his light aircraft crash on polling day.

"I was suspended, upside down in the wreckage, and then that horrible smell of petrol everywhere, you know, petrol in the hair and in the clothes, and then thinking, 'God, you know, we've survived this crash and now we're going to burn to death'.

"And that was absolutely terrifying. But the real miracle was that, on the impact with the ground, the engine had bounced miles away.

"The pilot had had the foresight to turn off the electrics and so all the stuff that could have set the petrol off wasn't there.

"And that was where we were really lucky," he added.

He also defended the record of Lord Pearson, who admitted during the campaign that he had not read the party's manifesto, saying: "If he makes the odd mistake on policy, so what?"

Meanwhile, in an article for the Mail on Sunday, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries called on MPs to vote against the re-election of Mr Bercow on Tuesday, and pointed to Tory Edward Leigh and Liberal Democrat Sir Menzies Campbell as "excellent candidates".

She said Mr Bercow, elected as Speaker last summer, would have her support if he was re-elected, but added: "For the sake of the future of Parliament, given the tough times we have ahead, I hope that MPs, new and old, can recognise the importance of the role and appreciate that Parliament needs to be swept with a new broom throughout."

Despite his former career as a Tory MP, Mr Bercow became Speaker last summer through the backing of many Labour MPs, with limited support from the Conservatives.

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