Ukip media chief admits general election goal requires broader agenda
O’Flynn plays down party’s chances at Newark byelection as coalition says it would halve time EU migrants can claim benefits.
A leading member of Ukip has said the party will have to work hard to broaden its agenda and to overcome its weaknesses if its leader, Nigel Farage, is to achieve a breakthrough in next year’s general election.
As the government responded to the Ukip threat by saying it would halve the amount of time for which EU migrants can claim benefits, Ukip’s director of communications, Patrick O’Flynn, admitted the party was struggling in London.
O’Flynn also played down expectations of a Ukip win in the Newark byelection on 5 June, when the Tories will defend a majority of 16,152.
“Newark is the equivalent of going from base camp to the summit of Mount Everest in about half an hour but we’re going to give it a really good crack,” he told BBC1’s Sunday Politics programme, in a marked change of tone from Farage’s confident predictions of a Ukip win in the European elections.
The cautious approach by Ukip, which is to target 20 to 30 parliamentary seats in the east of England outside its weak spot of London next May, came as the three main parties at Westminster dealt with the fallout from Ukip’s success in the local elections, in which it gained 161 seats.
The results were mixed for Ukip as its projected share of the national vote in the local elections fell by six points compared with last year, from 23% to 17%, according to the BBC. It is difficult to make an exact comparison between the two years because all seats in the London boroughs, where Ukip struggles, were up for election.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, was fighting off a challenge to his leadership from the left of his party as Labour and the Tories moved to win back Ukip voters. Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, said he aimed to halve the amount of time for which EU migrants can claim benefits.
- The Guardian,