'Rather than going for the ball, they are going to attack the player': Nigel Farage hits back at claims by Ken Clarke that UK Independence Party is supported by racists and is against foreigners and immigrants

Conservative minister without portfolio called into questions the beliefs of Ukip party members, accusing them of relying on negative policies, harbouring prejudice against immigrants and foreigners and of having a supporter base populated with “waifs and strays” and protest voters

Nigel Farage has hit back at claims by a Government minister that the UK Independence Party is supported by racists and is against foreigners and immigrants.

Ahead of local elections on Thursday, Ken Clarke branded the party “clowns” after Ukip accused the Conservatives of running a “morally reprehensible” smear campaign against its would-be councillors.

As the Conservative minister without portfolio continued his savage attack, he called into questions the beliefs of Ukip party members, accusing them of relying on negative policies, harbouring prejudice against immigrants and foreigners and of having a supporter base populated with “waifs and strays” and protest voters.

But Mr Farage responded to the allegations today by saying “They have lost the argument so Ken Clarke and others have decided that, rather than going for the ball, they are going to attack the player and that is exactly what this is about.”

Mr Farage, whose party is fielding 1,700 candidates in the council elections, told ITV's Daybreak that rival politicians are afraid of Ukip.

He said: “They know that the British public are genuinely concerned about opening up the door to Bulgaria and Romania next year.

He added: ”They are concerned because we have a million youngsters unemployed, we have wages being driven down and I am afraid a crime wave in London being caused by Romanians already.

Mr Farage went on to say: “These are tough subjects to talk about… All we are doing is talking the truth… There is nothing in Ukip that is racist in any way at all and Ken Clarke knows it... If he throws this abuse out, we will start having a proper debate“.

Ukip is investigating a handful of its record 1,700 candidates over links to groups such as the BNP and alleged racist and homophobic comments.

Mr Farage, whose party has said it does not condone ”unpalatable views“, told the programme Ukip is ”the only party in British politics who does not allow former members of the BNP to even join us as a member, let alone be a candidate.

“Labour has sitting councillors who are former BNP members, the Tories have BNP members in their party. We forbid it.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson has urged Tories not to panic over Ukip's rise in the polls, insisting it could be a good thing.

Mr Johnson said the party's popularity suggested the Conservative approach was “broadly popular”, while Labour was “going nowhere”.

He also delivered an apparent rebuke to Ken Clarke for his “ill-advised insults”.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph as campaigning intensifies ahead of the elections, Mr Johnson said Mr Farage had always struck him as a “rather engaging geezer”.

“He's anti-pomposity, he's anti-political correctness, he's anti-loony Brussels regulation. He's in favour of low tax, and sticking up for small business, and sticking up for Britain.”

He went on: “We Tories look at him - with his pint and cigar and sense of humour - and we instinctively recognise someone who is fundamentally indistinguishable from us.”

Mr Johnson - widely tipped as a successor to David Cameron - said Tories should resist the temptation to “overreact, to freak out, to denounce them all as frauds or worse”.

“I think there may have been a few ill-advised insults flying around in the past couple of days,” he wrote.

“Well, I would humbly submit that there are better ways of tackling the Ukip problem, if indeed it is really a problem at all.

”The rise of Farage and Ukip tells us some interesting and important things about what the electorate wants - and it is by no means bad news for the Conservatives.

“It tells us that the voters are fed up with over-regulation of all kinds, and especially from Brussels.

”Well, who is going to offer a referendum on the EU? Only the Conservatives - and the trouble with voting Ukip is that it is likely to produce the exact opposite: another Labour government and another five years of spineless and unexamined servitude to the EU.“

The Mayor said it was natural that voters were tempted to vote for Ukip and to give the political class a ”kick in the pants“.

”Rather than bashing Ukip, I reckon Tories should be comforted by their rise - because the real story is surely that these voters are not turning to the one party that is meant to be providing the official opposition,“ he said.

”The rise of Ukip confirms a) that a Tory approach is broadly popular and b) that in the middle of a parliament, after long years of recession, and with growth more or less flat, the Labour Party is going precisely nowhere.“

Mr Farage told LBC 97.3 that David Cameron's 2006 assessment of Ukip as a party of ”fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists“ was due to having ”grown up in a very narrow world“.

He said: ”When Cameron said it, I think it was just a relatively young, inexperienced leader of the Tory party who has grown up in a very narrow world and anybody with a view or an argument outside of what Mr Cameron considers to be normal is just dismissed, batted away as being irrelevant, not mainstream, not respectable.“

Responding to criticism of the party's economic policies, Mr Farage said the party would produce a fully costed manifesto in time for the 2015 election.

Setting out his aims for Thursday's elections he said: ”A successful outcome would be a big average percentage of the score ... anything over 15% would establish us as the third force in English politics.“

He added: ”What we need to do is to show that we can start to win under the first-past-the-post system. It is very difficult, but I am hoping and expecting that on Friday we will look and we will see that Ukip have established bridgeheads on county councils up and down the country.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?