UKIP claims victory in 'fruitcakes and loonies' row

By DAILY MAIL

Last updated at 09:00 08 April 2006


The UK Independence Party has declared victory in its war of words with the Tories - revealing that David Cameron's attack on it as "closet racists" has boosted its popularity.

UKIP leaders withdrew their threat to sue for defamation - because they could not prove the allegations had actually damaged them.

They had demanded an apology after Mr Cameron branded them "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" earlier this week.

Mr Maude stepped up the attack yesterday, saying that UKIP want an all-white Britain - a claim fiercely contested by the party.

The lawyers were called in, but former Tory MP Sir Richard Body - now a member of UKIP - revealed that the party have received support from the public.

Attack on marginal seats

In a bid to hurt the Tories at the ballot box, however, UKIP will now launch an all-out attack in marginal Tory constituencies.

They had previously agreed to a nonaggression pact in key seats where the sitting Tory is a eurosceptic. In the 2005 General Election, it was estimated that UKIP cost the Tories 27 seats by attracting three million voters who might otherwise have backed the Conservatives.

Sir Richard said yesterday: "A group of people had volunteered to provide whatever money was necessary to bring a case of defamation against David Cameron.

"It would be a class action, and although that would be feasible, one has to prove damages. And from the discussion this morning we had with the lawyers, it is going to be impossible to prove damages because UKIP seems to be gaining ground as a result of this.

"There has been a very strong reaction, almost overwhelmingly from Conservatives, against what Mr Cameron has said, offering support for UKIP."

UKIP will today deploy Rusty Lee, the black former daytime TV chef, on a "tank" emblazoned with their party colours outside the Manchester convention centre where the Tories are holding their spring conference - Mr Cameron's first as leader.

A Eurosceptic Tory MP also criticised Mr Cameron, saying: "This has created a lot of heat and will serve only to alienate voters we need to win over."

The announcements followed a day of increasingly intemperate verbal volleys between the parties.

'Unsavoury connections'

In an apparently calculated act of provocation, Mr Maude said: "There are some people in UKIP who have some pretty unsavoury connections with the far-right.

"It is a bit of a party that just wants to turn the clock back, that doesn't like the fact that Britain is a multi-racial country, a multi-faith country, would like to return to a world where Britain is all-white and Europe didn't exist - well, that's not the real world."

Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP MEPs, hit back: "We have never, ever said that we want an all-white Britain. We are not backward-looking, we are not prejudiced in any way at all. This is an outrageous slur."

UKIP's leader Roger Knapman, also a former Tory MP, said Mr Cameron had "blundered into a minefield" because of his inexperience.

He added: "Whether he is capable of walking out of it alive is a different matter. I am just sorry that a once great party could descend into that gutter in which they have now put themselves."

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