Ukip lose nearly one in ten councillors since 2013 local elections
Research comes after newly elected councillors have been hit by a series of controversies in recent months
Ukip has lost nearly one in ten of its councillors who won their seats during last year’s local elections, according to new research.
The party is currently down by 12 county representatives out of the 139 who were elected a year on from the May 2013 poll, The Guardian has found.
Newly elected councillors have also been hit by a series of controversies in recent months, which include Peter Lagoda in Cambridgeshire, who has pleaded guilty to benefit fraud totalling almost £25,000.
Victoria Ayling, a parliamentary candidate, was caught on camera saying “I just want to send the lot back but I can’t say that”, a comment she claimed was made in regards to illegal immigrants.
Eric Kitson resigned after 12 days as an Ukip county councillor after sharing offensive material about Muslims on his Facebook page. Worcestershire councillor Martin Jenkins also resigned in protest against Ukip’s stance on gay marriage.
While the party has gained councillors through defections, with 19 coming from Labour and the Conservatives in London, its county council losses throughout the past year are “many” times higher than the other parties, according to the research.
Sanya-Jeet Thandi, a young rising star within Ukip, quit the party this week in disgust at Ukip’s campaigning on immigration issues, writing that “while the party deliberately attracts the racist vote I refuse to be associated with them.”
However, the Ukip was also found to be extremely active in their communities, with statistics showing they have the highest attendance record over any other party at more than 92 per cent of compulsory meetings.
Party leader Nigel Farage has also claimed his councillors come under an unfair amount of scrutiny because other parties are going through social media to uncover controversial statements.
But Dr Matthew Goodwin, a politics expert at Nottingham University, told The Guardian controversies will not undermine support for Ukip, and may even add to the party’s appeal.
"While it is tempting to think the performance of radical right councillors or members of the European parliament might impact on their support, it clearly does not," he said.
"With the radical right, and figures like [party leader Nigel] Farage, it is as if voters are willing to give them a free pass – to use them as a vehicle through which they can express their intensely held concerns over Europe, immigration and the state of our politics while overlooking their own failings or those of individual councillors and candidates."
Ukip have not yet responded to requests for comment on the research.
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