Ukip leader Nigel Farage has called for Britain’s Electoral Commission to be abolished after it approved the name of a spoiler party standing against him in the South Thanet seat.
On Friday, the Commission gave the go-ahead for comedian Al Murray to stand against Farage under the description Freedom United Kingdom Party, however it rejected the party’s logo, which is an upside down version of Ukip’s, and said the acronym FUKP will not appear on ballot papers.
Farage argues that the party’s name is designed to confuse voters in the constituency and thus split the Ukip vote.
In a statement, the Ukip leader said: “The Electoral Commission is failing in all its key duties.
“It has allowed the electoral register to shrink at a time of rising population. It has sanctioned joke and spoiler parties, which only last year had a material impact on the outcome of the European Elections, costing UKIP at least two seats.”
The Commission drew criticism last year after it allowed former Ukip MEP Mike Nattrass to register a party with the name “An Independence from Europe” which went on to win more than 230,000 votes in the European elections. Ukip said the party’s name confused voters, costing them a third seat in the South West.
The Electoral Commission has since asked “An Independence from Europe” to change its name, but only to remove the word “An”. They also ruled that the “Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party” had to change its name as “Crumpet” could be seen as sexist.
The Commission said: “The Commission applies several tests to each application to register a party identity mark (name, description or emblem). One of these involves considering whether in the Commission’s opinion an identifier is likely to result in electors confusing the party with another party that is already registered. We also consider whether an identifier would be likely to result in an elector being misled as to the effect of their vote.
“The Commission assessed the application to register the Free United Kingdom Party against these tests. We concluded that this party name, if used on a ballot paper, was not likely to lead to electors confusing it with another registered party. At the same time we refused to register the emblem that the Free United Kingdom Party is currently using for campaigning purposes. This is clearly similar to UKIP’s registered emblem and as a result we judged that there was a clear risk of voter confusion. The party may use this emblem in other contexts but it may not use it on ballot papers. The acronym FUKP will also not appear on the ballot paper.”
Rules have been in place to stop people running under names “deliberately designed to deceive the electorate” since Richard Huggett ran as a “Literal Democrat” in the 1994 European Elections and polled 10,000 votes. The Liberal Democrats blamed him for splitting their vote and costing them a seat, taking their case to the High Court.