Triumphant Ukip draws up hitlist of 20 key seats to storm Commons
Nigel Farage to head ‘ruthless’ drive on Westminster, as Nick Clegg faces Lib Dem revolt over poor poll showing.
Nigel Farage’s Ukip is to target at least 20 parliamentary seats at the next general election, using his party’s success in Thursday’s council elections as the launch pad for an all-out assault on the House of Commons, party officials have revealed.
In a move that will further unnerve the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all of which have suffered from the Ukip surge senior party officials said the next move would be to identify specific, mainly marginal, seats, where it now has a strong base of councillors. It is imitating the tactics that established the Liberal Democrats as a strong parliamentary force in the 1990s.
The extent of Farage’s ambitions came to light as Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg faced a serious backlash from party malcontents, including at least two parliamentary candidates and several prominent councillors, as activists gathered names on a petition demanding he be replaced immediately by a new leader.
Ukip sources said the first task after the Newark byelection on 5 June would be to ensure that Farage himself wins a Commons seat next May. Mainstream parties have publicly doubted Ukip’s capacity to break into parliament, but Thursday’s results have convinced the party that, with the right focus, it can deliver a Ukip caucus.
“We don’t want Nigel to be the only one,” said the source. “The key is to focus ruthlessly on 20-30 target seats. This is the way for a smaller party to crack the first past the post system in parliamentary elections, as the Lib Dems did.”
While Ukip’s projected national share of the vote fell, it increased its number of councillors by more than 150 – from just nine in 2010 – by focusing resources on target areas. It acknowledges that it may, at best, win only a handful of seats in parliament next May, but that will mean it has a base in Westminster for the first time.
- The Observer,