This evening I interviewed UKIP leader Nigel Farage for an hour on 18DoughtyStreet. To be honest I was rather more impressed him than I expected to be. He was quite open about the problems his party faces and the challenges it must meet. I'm still not convinced he has the answers, but he is certainly determined to make it more professional. I was astonished to learn it has a mere 16,000 members (down from a high of 27,000). UKIP's strategy seems to be based around attracting disaffected right wing Conservatives and...er, that's it. With Europe not high on the political agenda at the moment there's little else they can do.
Nigel made the astonishing claim that he expects UKIP to be the biggest party after the 2008 European Elections. He says they have doubled their vote in the last two elections and if they repeated that in 2008 they'd be on 32%. Yes, and my name's Shirley Temple. I took him to task for accepting £170,000 of taxpayers' money to pay for UKIP propaganda. He couldn't see anything wrong in doing this, saying that all the other parties did too. He didn't seem to understand that UKIP's USP is that they're not like the three main parties and not accepting this handout would help differentiate them.
But the top line from the interview was that contrary to popular belief UKIP will put candidates up against Tory candidates whatever their views on Europe. I had thought he had said they wouldn't do that to candidates who had signed up to the cross-party Better Off Out campaign. Nigel said that only applied to sitting MPs as candidates would say anything to get elected and then rat on their promises. Well, at least we now know.
If you want to watch the interview click HERE and it's about a quarter of the way through and lasts an hour.