Dr Sked: a man of magnetism?

IF IT had been in black and white it could almost have been one of Harold Macmillan's fireside chats to the nation, back in the time when politicans told the people that they had never had it so good.

It too was a party political broadcast, but there was no Brahms, no cliff-top walk, no Elgar and no Paddy Ashdown. There on the television screen was Dr Alan Sked, leader of the previously obscure UK Independence Party, fielding 24 candidates in the Euro-elections, more than twice the number needed to get the broadcast. Personally he is taking on Edwina Currie in Bedfordshire.

Memories of the event, last Tuesday night, are already blurred. By the week's end some viewers recalled an ordinary- looking man, youthful and vaguely casual in the Clinton mould. Others remembered an extraordinary figure with a haircut that resembled iron filings stuck to a magnet.

Whatever the truth, since that five-minutes' prime-time television, Dr Sked, a lecturer in international history at the LSE, says his telephone lines (increased from two to five) have been blocked with inquiries. A telecommunciations expert in the party claims there have been between 30,000 and 40,000 callers. 'After the broadcast there has been a quantum leap in public consciousness about us,' Dr Sked says. 'One of the television teams came to film me, and all the cameramen said they were going to vote for me.'

Dr Sked, 46, formed his party before the last Euro-elections, as the Anti-Federalist League, and changed its name after Maastricht, when he felt the only way for Britain to avoid a federalist Europe was to leave the EU altogether. He points out that party members are not British nationalists and do not want to bring the empire back.

He says the membership (pre-broadcast) is in thousands, and its only funds the pounds 10-a- head annual membership fee. With more money he would have liked to have fought all 87 European constituencies.

Dr Sked's only previous political activity was unsuccessfully contesting an Oxford City council seat as a Liberal in 1970, while an undergraduate at Merton College. He was a federalist then, but he says he has seen too much of the community's institutions to have remained a supporter.

He has fought two parliamentary by-elections, coming fourth each time out of fields of 14 and 16, and each time within 500 votes of Labour. 'I love Europe,' he insists. He is proud that he was invited on German television to speak in German the day of unification. 'I just don't want to be under some federalist super-state.'

He believes his following will grow to the point where either his party gets a sizeable number of seats in the Commons, or the Conservative Party splits over the issue. 'Our policy does strike a chord. We're not having to convert people. It's just saying you can exist as an independent country making your own laws, without having an office in Brussels running you. You can be a perfectly ordinary state.'

Dr Sked insists senior Conservative officials have been attending his meetings to report back to Central Office. Lord Tebbit said last week that until John Major's two-speed Europe pronouncements, he had been urging Conservatives to vote for the Independence Party.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us