Ukip invited the right-wing politician Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate, it has been revealed.
Correspondence seen by The Telegraph newspaper, shows Ukip founder Alan Sked begged the former MP for endorsement on a number of occasions before asking him to stand for the party.
Powell is famed for the immediately detrimental impact his "Rivers of Blood" speech had on race relations in Britain when it was delivered in 1968, and how it overshadowed the dialogue on race for decades afterwards.
In 1994, in a hand-written note on Ukip headed paper, Sked, who was the anti-immigration party's leader at the time, wrote: “A large number of people, many of them known to you, have suggested to me that I invite you to be our candidate for Central London in the Euro-Elections. As you know, we don’t intend to take up seats or salaries. We fight our course in the UK alone.
Ukip gaffes and controversies
Ukip gaffes and controversies
1/12 Neil Hamilton
Picture Exclusive: The year is 1998. The venue is a Springbok Club meeting. The flag is a symbol for white supremacists in South Africa. And the speaker is Ukip’s deputy chairman, Neil Hamilton
2/12 Kerry Smith
Kerry Smith resigned as would-be MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock after it emerged he had mocked gay party members as “disgusting poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone with a Chinese name as a “Chinky bird”
3/12 Natasha Bolter
Former Ukip member Natasha Bolter was suspected of not having the teaching qualifications she professed to, only days after it was revealed that claims of her having attended Oxford University were also false
4/12 Ukip Calypso song
Mike Reid released a single in praise of UKIP trying to control the UK's borders, only to withdraw the single after being accused of racism for singing in a Jamaican accent
5/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Ukip spin doctor forced to intervene as Farage falters in disastrous radio interview
6/12 Janice Atkinson
Janice Atkinson, Ukip's South East chair, pictured by protesters while campaigning in Ashford, Kent with local party chair Norman Taylor
7/12 Ukip cancels Freephone
Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
8/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Mr Farage appeared to be caught out on a number of issues, from Romanian neighbours to people speaking foreign languages on the train
9/12 Ukip employs illegal immigrants
Ukip criticised after European election candidate found employing illegal immigrants
10/12 Magnus Nielsen
Ukip candidate: 'Take away the right to vote to improve election turnout'
11/12 London Live make-up
Ukip's Nigel Farage reportedly refused to go on London Live 'without professional make up-artist'
Nigel Farage says he is taking taking legal advice over “outrageous” allegations that he is responsible for more than £50,000 of “missing” EU funding that was paid directly into his personal bank account
“All you would have to do would be to allow your name to be used, design your own election address and make as many statements as you saw fit. There need be no meetings or actual campaigning. What do you think?”
Powell responded: “I am in fact not intending to contest a parliamentary seat, having effectively retired since my defeat at the General Election of 1987.”
Ukip’s current leader Nigel Farage, who has often spoken of his admiration for the MP, also wrote to Powell asking for his support in a 1994 by-election.
He wrote: “I have everything in place to fight a good, aggressive campaign but a voice from you could transform things and put the issue to the forefront. Please give us the help you can.”
The letter continued: “I would like you to come and speak at the Town Hall in Eastleigh at some point during the week preceding Polling Day. If you agree to this I will, of course, organise transport, dinner and whatever you need. I might take a break from the driving this time!”
According to The Telegraph, Powell did agree to help three Ukip candidates over the years, not including Farage.
In his biography Fighting Bull, Farage wrote of a meeting with Powell at Dulwich College, writing that the MP had “dazzled me for once into an awestruck silence.”
In 2008, he named Powell as his political hero, saying he agreed with the “basic principle” of the "Rivers of Blood" speech.
“While his language may seem out of date now, the principles remain good and true,” Farage is reported to have said.