Nigel Farage has explained that his party’s recent surge in popularity is because they have moved from being “high Tory” and “very middle class” to being popular amongst working class voters. The comments came in a debate at Chatham House about why UKIP are doing so well in the opinion polls.
Mr Farage complained that the “Cameroon supporting media” constantly imply that UKIPs support comes from stereotypical Tory supporting, middle class retired military men.
The UKIP Leader said: “To read some of our Conservative Cameroon supporting newspapers you really would think that absolutely every voter for UKIP is a retired half-Colonel living on the edge of Salisbury plain, who only perks up after his first pink gin of the day. Desperate to bring back the birch. Absolutely hates Europe and hasn’t been there since 1945.
“Now it’s true we aren’t doing badly in that market, but there aren’t many of them.”
Farage said UKIPs “real potential” came from their work to change their language to something more appealing to working class voters in Northern English cities like Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester.
He continued: “Well, we were a party of high Tories and very very middle. Our expansion amongst working class voters has now overwhelmed that middle class support.
“We’re not doing as well with younger people and we’re not doing as well with women but there is no reason to think that can’t change.”
Farage believes that a national debate on Europe will make his party more popular with young people. He also conceded that some things UKIP representatives have said have proved “repulsive to women”. The comment was clearly a reference to Godfrey Bloom MEP, who lost the UKIP whip in 2013 after a string of sexist remarks.
Mr Bloom had referred to women as “sluts”, overshadowing Farage’s Leaders speech at Party Conference. He then left the venue and struck the journalist Michael Crick, he later claimed he was going to take up shooting suggesting the BBC veteran “might be the first cartridge”.
But Farage felt woman would come to UKIP as people like Bloom will be replaced at May’s election with many more women. Rendering UKIP the party with the largest percentage of women members in the European Parliament.
The party’s poll numbers have jumped in recent years. In 1994 they got just 1 percent at the European Elections, by 2009 that was 16 percent. They are currently at 30 percent, which is likely to be a winning figure.Labour are 28 percent, while the Conservatives languish in third with 21 percent.
Farage was joined at Chatham House by Laura Sandys MP, a pro-European Conservative MP, who had lost all the her County Councillors to UKIP in 2013. During the debate she described herself as an “extreme moderate, a fanatical centrist”.
The full debate is available below: