Nigel Farage has admitted that Ukip is “blokeish” and has a women problem – before going on to prove it by asking: ‘What do you want me to do? Go sell flowers?’
Speaking after he had posed for photographers on top of a Chieftain Mark 10 tank while campaigning in Middleton in Heywood, in Lancashire, the Ukip leader said: "I am not going to pretend to reach out to female voters or voters of all different denominations. We're one country, we're one people and this party is making huge progress.
"The problem with female voters and Ukip is that, over the last 5 to 10 years, at times, on a very bad day, we've looked a bit blokeish, a bit like a rugby club on a day out and I'm probably the most guilty person of all ... The pub and everything else. It's true, it was a very male dominated party in every aspect.”
In pictures: The rise of Ukip
In pictures: The rise of Ukip
1/8 1993: Alan Sked forms Ukip
History professor Alan Sked had been active in anti-EU politics for a while beore he founded Ukip in 1993. He resigned from the party after the 1997 election, concerned that it was attracting far-right members, and has been critical of Ukip since. Picture: Reuters
2/8 2005: Kilroy defects
Former TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk founded Veritas in 2005, after a failed bid to become leader, and took many of Ukip's elected members with him. But the party slowly lost its popularity and didn't put forward any candidates in the last election. Picture: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty REUTERS KD/RUS
3/8 2010: Farage becomes leader, again
Farage had led Ukip from 2006 until 2009, when he stood down to fight against the Speaker, John Bercow, for his Buckingham seat. He failed to win the election and returned to lead the party in November 2010. Picture: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
4/8 2010: Ukip fights for election
Nigel Farage was injured in a plane crash on polling day in the 2010 general election, but his party increased its success in the votes. It fielded 572 candidates and took 3.1% of the vote, though failed to win any seats. REUTERS/Darren Staples
5/8 2013: Eastleigh gains
Ukip's candidate Diane James got the highest ever number of votes for any candidate from the party, but was beaten by the Liberal Democrats. The surge in support gave Ukip confidence ahead of local and European elections later in the year. Picture: Reuters
6/8 2013: Bloom kicked out
Godfrey Bloom, who served as an Ukip MEP from 2004 to 2014, had the whip withdrawn in 2013 after sexist comments and an attack on a journalist. He sat as an independent MEP until 2014, when he ended his term in office. Picture: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
7/8 2014: European election success
Ukip got a higher proportion of the vote than any other party in 2014's European elections, adding 11 new MEPs and taking its total to 24. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
8/8 2014: Carswell defects
Douglas Carswell defected from Ukip at the end of August, and was followed by Mark Reckless at the end of September, who resigned from the Tories amid rumours of many more defections to come. Picture: REUTERS/Toby Melville
That admission does not mean that the Ukip is proposing to change his ways. “What do you want me to do? Go sell flowers?” he said.
But he claimed that matters had improved this year. Godfrey Bloom, who created a sensation at Ukip’s 2013 conference by jokily calling a room full of women ‘sluts’ because they did not clean behind their fridges, has been disowned by Farage and is no longer an MEP. Ukip also fielded more woman candidates in 2014.
But polling evidence suggests that Ukip’s appeal to women voters is still limited. One poll in Middleton and Heywood, where Labour is defending the seat left vacant by the death of Jim Dobbin, showed Ukip ahead of Labour by 41 per cent to 38 per cent among male voters, but trailing with only 21 per cent support among women.Reuse content