Ex-leader Nigel Farage to contest UKIP election

Nigel Farage: "I've spent 15 years building up this party. I believe I can lead from the front"

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Nigel Farage is to stand for the leadership of the UK Independence Party, a position he held until 2009.

Mr Farage, who failed in his attempt to become an MP in May, said he was the best man to lead UKIP "from the front".

Fellow MEPs David Campbell Bannerman and Gerard Batten have also said they will contest a future election contest - expected to take place in November.

Ex-leader Lord Pearson announced his intention to quit in August, saying he was not "much good" at party politics.

Party officials meeting at UKIP's annual conference in Torquay have chosen Jeffrey Titford to take temporary charge.

Candidates

Mr Farage, who heads the party's 12 representatives in the European Parliament, was injured in a light aircraft crash on the day of the general election.

After the accident and his failure to defeat the Commons Speaker John Bercow in Buckingham, he told the BBC he wanted "to take a bit more time for myself and for my family".

However, he declared his candidacy on Friday, saying he was best placed to communicate UKIP's policies to the media and public and get more party representatives elected at local level.

"I believe I can lead the party from the front as a campaigning organisation," he said.

The BBC's political correspondent Ross Hawkins said Mr Farage had asked delegates assembled in Torquay whether they wanted him to stand for the top job and they had responded enthusiastically.

Mr Farage was the favourite to win a future contest, our correspondent added.

But he will face competition from David Campbell Bannerman and Gerard Batten, who have also put their names forward and are likely to get the nominations needed to stand.

'More professional'

Mr Campbell Bannerman said UKIP had to improve its organisation, since it had the potential to win 20 seats at the next election if the public backed changes to the voting system at a referendum next May.

"We have got to get more professional to seize the opportunities of the future," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Mr Batten - who came second in the 2009 election contest - said he was popular with party members and would make UKIP "more radical" and broaden its electoral appeal.

The party failed to make its hoped-for breakthrough in May's poll, although it did increase its share of vote to more than 3% - securing more than 900,000 votes.

Asked about UKIP's future, Mr Titford said he was convinced the party would build on existing support to become a significant force in the British political landscape.

"I think people are beginning to read our manifesto, understand that it's common sense, that it was put together by professionals and the layman so that everybody should understand," he told the BBC.

Lord Pearson announced in August his intention to stand down at the conference, saying he did not "enjoy" the cut and thrust of party politics and suggesting a "younger leader" was needed to take the party forward.

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