A controversial right-wing group known as the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP or Ukip) leads the traditionally dominant Labor and Conservative parties in polling ahead of next week’s election of British representatives to the E.U.’s European Parliament. From The Independent:
[UKIP] has 29% of the vote ahead of labour on 26% the Conservatives on 23% and Liberal Democrats on 10%.
The YouGov poll for the Sun on Sunday also found that 27% of those surveyed thought Ukip was a party with “racist views” and “many racist members.”
A larger number - 35% - thought that though the party was not racist it did “seem to attract some candidates or supporters with racist, extreme or odd views”.
(In the U.K., representatives to the European Parliament are elected proportionally by party within 12 voting regions.)
The Washington Post, meanwhile, profiles party leader Nigel Farage, a former commodities trader who has become popular among blue-collar voters:
The party’s emergence doesn’t just challenge the ruling Conservatives, who have scrambled to the right on immigration and environmental policies to keep from being outflanked…it also threatens to eat into support for Labor, which risks losing the backing of working-class voters alienated by the party’s progressivism.
UKIP’s appeals to the Reagan Democrats of Britain are hardly subtle: On one campaign billboard, a dejected worker sits on the curb with a coin cup at his feet. “British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labor,” reads the ad’s text.
UKIP has not traditionally been this successful in purely domestic elections and doesn’t presently hold any seats in the British Parliament proper.