Ukip is now Britain’s 3rd party in the polls. But who are the party’ s big beasts other than Nigel?
Since its founding two decades ago, Ukip has been side-lined, ridiculed and even hated. But for all the controversy, Farage and Co. have obviously done something right.
Ukip has managed to claw its way from near obscurity to anchoring a claim as Britain’s third political party. For a while, they have been comfortably polling around the 7 – 8% mark, and recent surveys have them up by as much as 13%. At the last Euro elections they got 16.5%, beating Labour.
They now have 12 MEPs in Brussels and have big plans to top the European Parliamentary elections in 2014.
We have also heard about the purple party’s desire for a flat tax, plus the abolition of things like inheritance tax and National Insurance tax. We may even have heard of their more obscure policies like wanting to ban the showing of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” in schools, despite marketing themselves as the only remaining proponents of free speech.
But, for all the fuss, Ukip’s band of merry men (and, yes, women too) have largely stayed a mystery.
Only LondonlovesBusiness.com columnist Nigel Farage is well known. So we’re here to help you get to know the people who might soon become big names in British politics.
The Second in Command – Paul Nuttall
Nuttall is Ukip’s deputy leader and MEP for the north-west region.
Nuttall has made Ukip’s Merseyside branch one of the most vibrant in the country, in an area traditionally weak for Ukip.
Nuttall is more interested in what Ukip should do at home than what they should be doing abroad. He’s anti-abortion, ultra-tough on crime (you really don’t want to find yourself crossing this bloke) and pro-banning the burqa in public. But he’s also proven himself apt at dealing with an array of issues on Question Time, bashing bonuses for RBS bankers, while acknowledging the complexities in Syria.
The Youth Brigade – Alexandra Swann
If for a moment you suspected that Ukip boat was an aging boys’ club, then you have clearly not met the much talked about, and much photographed, Alexandra Swann.
Her defection from deputy chairman of Conservative Future into the Ukip fold early this year was probably the best PR win the right-wing party has ever had – and might well have for a long time to come.
A “libertarian, meets anarcho-capitalist” is how the the blonde 24-year-old describes herself. She is fast becoming an assured presence on live TV.
The London Guy – Gerard Batten
Batten is old school. He’s one of Ukip’s founder members and fought 11 elections for the party in his time. A big Ukip voice and policy guide on immigration, he’s also their lone London MEP.
In his first term he was a member of the European Parliaments Security & Defence Committee, and from 2009 Batten’s been sitting on the Civil Liberties Justice & Home Affairs Committee.
He’s also UKIP’s chief MEP whip, although when the only way into the party is to adopt its EU mantra of the only way is out – it’s hard to imagine this keeps Batten all that busy.
The Communicator – Gawain Towler
Writer, blogger and Ukip’s head of press, Towler is the guy spearheading the media blitz. His blog England Expects is pretty much what you would expect, list after list of rebuttals to various EU happenings, with a witty twist.
He’s also a major player in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy, a Eurosceptic political group in the European Parliament made up largely of Ukip’s MEPs and Italy’s Lega Nord faction in Brussels.
The Puppet Master – Steve Crowther
Ukip’s executive party chair Steve Crowther came to the forefront back in 2010 with one goal in mind – to build the party into a professional force to be reckoned with.
Born in Devon, he spent 30 years in London working as a journalist and businessman before returning out west.
That Ukip is polling so well is, at least in part, down to him. But there are doubts about his leadership capacity, which makes him even more interesting for your radar.
The Budding Puppeteer – Will Gilpin
Just stepping up to the plate this week is the newly appointed party chief executive Will Gilpin. He will be overseeing Ukip’s press, internet and social media work and working right under Crowther. He’s also a former RAF man and part of Ukip’s defence group, guiding foreign policy.
The Nearly Woman – Jane Collins
Out went the disgraced Labour MP Denis MacShane, nearly handing Ukip’s candidate Jane Collins the party’s first seat.
On 29 November she won 21.79% of the Rotherham by-election, Ukip’s best ever in a Common’s election, coming second only to Labour.
The LibDems lost their deposit and came eighth.
Born and bred in Yorkshire, Collins comes from a mining family and calls herself as a “grassroots politician” not a career-climbing one. With youth unemployment in her constituency on the up and Labour’s leadership resented for promoting national, not local candidates, Collins stands a (slim) chance of making it to the Commons in 2015.
The Defector – Roger Helmer
Helmer’s defection from the Tories back in March was a massive credibility boost for the Faragists.
He had been an MEP for the blues since 1999.
Helmer is an ardent climate-change denier who spends much of his time focusing on key Ukip energy policies such as scrapping wind farm subsidies and ending EU greenhouse gas targets.
The Economic big gun – Marta Andreasen
Andreasen is an extraordinary character for Ukip to have in its ranks.
Andreasen was named the European Commission’s chief accountant back in 2002. When she took a good look at the books, however, Andreasen realised all was not right.
She blew the whistle on figure fiddling, but while the press descended on the EC’s mismanagement, Andreasen soon found herself slapped with a suspension for “failure to show sufficient loyalty and respect.” She was ultimately fired, seemingly for having the temerity to try and expose corruption in the EU. Accountacy Age named her accountant of the year for her efforts to combat EU fraud.
Andreasen may yet have the last laugh over her former tormentors. She now sits on no less than six European Parliament committees. Plus, as an Argentinian-born Spaniard, married a Swede, Andreasen throws a spanner in the works for those all too ready to label Ukip xenophobic.
The City’s man – Steven Woolfe
A criminal lawyer turned regulatory lawyer, Woolfe has been both Ukip’s police and crime commi
ssioner candidate and is now the party’s spokesperson on all things financial.
Watch out for Woolfe’s sharp suits and even sharper jaw: he’s a bulked up Gordon Gekko who looks like he could rip your arms out of their sockets.
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