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Ukip election posters: Nigel Farage defends 'racist' campaign anti-immigration campaign ahead of Europe elections

The posters have been compared to a previous BNP campaign

Kashmira Gander,Oliver Wright
Tuesday 22 April 2014 16:27 BST

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has defended his party's controversial election campaign ahead of the May European elections, after its posters were called "racist".

The party's economic spokesman, Steven Woolfe, announced the campaign on Twitter on Sunday, and said the giant posters would be "coming to you soon".

One billboard depicts a man dressed as a builder begging for spare change next to the words: "EU policy at work. British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labour."

Another poster reads: "26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?" alongside a giant hand pointing at the viewer.

Others complain that 75 per cent of British laws are made in Brussels, and that UK taxpayers fund the "celebrity lifestyle" of EU bureaucrats.

Figures across the political spectrum soon posted tweets opposing the campaign, and accused the party of scaremongering.

There were also comparisons to posters released by the far-right British National Party which carried the slogan: "British Jobs for British Workers" next to men dressed in high-vis jackets.

Labour MP Mike Gapes said they were "racist" and appealed to "all decent British Commonwealth and EU citizens" to register to vote in May's polls.

Former Conservative minister Lord Debden writing: "UKIP stands for the worst in human beings: our prejudice, selfishness, and fear."

"Like a toddler kicking off in a public place #ukip gets what they want - a reaction ( and so everyone sharing their posters)..." wrote Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy.

Lord Deben, a Tory peer who served in John Major's cabinet, also responded, saying that Ukip "stands for the worst in human beings: our prejudice, selfishness, and fear".

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, who recently appeared in a televised debate with Ukip's leader, Nigel Farage, added that they were "just a crass way of campaigning that we have come to expect from Ukip".

The party is using £1.5 million of funding donated by millionaire ex-Tory donor Paul Sykes to launch its biggest ever publicity drive. The posters put up in two waves over the next four weeks, and be accompanied by adverts in digital media.

Leader Nigel Farage has defended the posters, and said he was not bothered by "ruffl[ing] a few feathers among the chattering classes."

"Are we bothered about that? Not in the slightest," he said.

He described the posters as "a hard-hitting reflection of reality as it is experienced by millions of British people struggling to earn a living outside the Westminster bubble."

"Ukip is hugely grateful to Paul Sykes for his magnificent contribution to the great cause of restoring Britain's ability to be a self-governing nation. The political earthquake I have spoken of is on its way," he added.

Mr Sykes said the posters would be the biggest advertising campaign in Ukip's history. "The European elections are the most important for many years," he said.

"We have the chance to support a party that represents a complete break with the past. The other parties, whatever their merits, are content to work within the existing Brussels straitjacket.

"An overwhelming victory for Ukip will break the political mould in the UK, forcing Labour and the Lib Dems to back a full-scale referendum."

The posters will be displayed in two waves over the next four weeks and be accompanied by adverts in digital media.

The row came as Mr Clegg dismissed Ukip's claim to be a party of political outsiders, describing it instead as an arm of the " longstanding Eurosceptic establishment".

The Liberal Democrat leader said Mr Farage's assertion that he was leading an army of "insurgents" was implausible in view of the strong current of Euroscepticism that existed in the Conservative Party and in the media.

Instead, Mr Clegg implied that it was the Liberal Democrats who were the insurgent underdogs, because they were confronting the " Eurosceptic establishment" directly in the European election campaign by fighting on an unashamedly pro-European platform.

The push for votes follows a ComRes poll for The Independent, which revealed that more than half the electorate is immune to the appeal of Ukip and has no intention of supporting it. 

Ukip support edged up by one point to 12 per cent following Nigel Farage's two televised clashes with Nick Clegg, which snap polls of viewers concluded had been easily "won" by the Ukip leader.

Additional reporting by PA

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