Paul Nuttall hasn’t had the best week. On Monday, he launched the party’s platform on integration at the Marriott Hotel in Westminster, and then had to flee as journalists tried to find out whether he was going to stand for Parliament. One of his frontbenchers stepped down soon after in protest over his “misguided” new proposals, which included a burka ban. So it was bold of the Ukip leader to return to the Marriott today to launch his party’s election campaign.
The launch was no less controversial, as anti-racism protesters managed to get inside the event. They were swiftly thrown out, chanting as they went that Ukip was a “nasty, racist party”. What about the substance? Mr Nuttall made clear that he would stand for Parliament, although refused to confirm where. “Bring your bucket and spade” his aide told journalists, in what is now being taken as a hint that it will be Boston and Skegness. Such a target would be a big test for the Ukip leader. Voters in the constituency heavily backed Brexit, yet its incumbent MP Matt Warman (a former Telegraph journalist) backed Remain. If Ukip can’t win there, a seat it spent more money on trying to win in 2015 than any other seat in the country, then where can it win?
Ukip’s popularity has been on the wane in the polls, so it’s tempting to be sceptical of how well the party could do in this election. Douglas Carswell isn’t holding his breath, as he writes for the Telegraph that the Liberal Democrats could do much better than his former party as “they know how to count…[and] are very good at converting what votes they do get into actual seats because they know about targeting and messaging”. If Mr Nuttall can defy the odds by taking a seat, Ukip will show it doesn’t need Mr Carswell in order to have a voice in Parliament.
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