UKIP attracts 'decent' BNP voters, says Neil Hamilton

Neil and Christine Hamilton Neil Hamilton on the campaign trail with wife and fellow UKIP activist Christine

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Former BNP voters who feel "swamped" by immigrants are turning to UKIP as a "decent" and "non-racist" alternative, UKIP's deputy chairman has said.

Former Tory MP Neil Hamilton said "quite a few" people who voted BNP in the 2009 European elections had switched sides.

BNP leader Nick Griffin accused Nigel Farage's party of stealing its slogans and rhetoric.

UKIP is on course to top the poll in May's Euro elections, says a survey.

UKIP recorded 31% support in the YouGov research for the Sunday Times, three points ahead of Labour, with the Conservatives in third on 19%.

It put the Liberal Democrats on 9%, the Green Party on 8% and the BNP, which gained 6.2% of the vote in the 2009 European elections, on 0%.

It is the first time YouGov has given UKIP, which campaigns for Britain's exit from the EU, the lead in the race to top the poll at the European elections on 22 May. Most previous polls have given the advantage to Labour by a few percentage points.

Earlier in the week when YouGov showed people pictures of UKIP campaign adverts, branded "racist" by some critics, the majority disagreed they were racist, and 57% agreed with Mr Farage's claim the adverts were a "hard-hitting reflection of reality".

Slogan row
BNP leader Nick Griffin campaigns at Wythenshawe by-election

BNP leader Nick Griffin, who is standing for re-election to the European Parliament in the North-West of England, blamed what he claimed was biased reporting by the BBC for the collapse in support for his party, as well as the rise in support for UKIP.

"They (UKIP) are using all of our rhetoric, they are using our slogans, they are recycling our posters and people like it," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics.

"The only difference is that UKIP won't deliver."

He said that unlike UKIP, which favours a reduction in immigration, the BNP's policy was to "shut the door - we don't want anyone, black brown, green or white".

UKIP came under fire earlier this year over its European election slogan "Love Britain, Vote UKIP", which is similar to a BNP slogan - Nigel Farage responded by saying it was "our slogan now".

The party has also faced a storm of criticism over a local council candidate, William Henwood, who suggested on Twitter that actor and comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a "black country".

'Desperation'

Mr Henwood, who is standing in a council election, made the comment on Twitter in response to a speech by Henry in which he said ethnic minorities were under-represented on British television.

But Neil Hamilton, who has been a senior figure in UKIP for some years and is standing as a local council candidate, said all parties had activists "who may have said something unpleasant on social media".

Start Quote

UKIP is the party of fear, saying be fearful vote for us”

End Quote Natalie Bennett Green Party leader

He claimed Mr Griffin's comments "demonstrated that the BNP is a racist party and UKIP isn't".

But he agreed that UKIP was taking votes off the BNP, claiming "a lot of decent people" who were not racists had voted BNP in the past "out of desperation".

"They feel their communities are being swamped by immigrants from outside, whether they are from Eastern Europe or from other parts of the world.

"Now those people, the decent supporters of the BNP, from the last election, who weren't true BNP supporters at all, I am sure that quite a few of them are voting for a respectable alternative, which is UKIP."

Nigel Farage told The Guardian on Saturday that his party had taken all the votes it was likely to gain from Conservative supporters in the South of England and was now targeting Labour voters in the north, with the aim of pushing Ed Miliband into promising a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.

'Murder'

But former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain said: "I don't think Farage's success, which it's likely to be in a few weeks time, is going to affect Labour on the referendum at all."

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr show UKIP's rise had been "mainly at the expense of the Tories" but they were also "hoovering up" support from voters who were "fed up" with conventional politicians.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said her party was fighting the European elections as the anti-UKIP party.

"UKIP is the party of fear, saying be fearful - vote for us.

"We're saying hope for a better society, a society that works for the common good - so vote Green for that."

Lib Dem peer Dame Olly Grender said UKIP needed to be put under more scrutiny by the other parties, who she claimed were not taking the European elections seriously enough.

"I think what it (the European election) says about us as a nation is critically important and I think that UKIP are getting away with absolute murder," she told Pienaar's politics.

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    23:58: Round-up of the day

    From a start close to home, the day's political horizons gradually broadened to finish with international security and defence:

    • The Tories pledged to double the number of new starter homes to 200,000 by 2020 - at a discounted rate for first time buyers. Labour want to see 200,000 new homes built a year by 2020. The Lib Dems want to see 300,000 new homes built annually by 2020, including 10 new garden cities
    • Home Secretary Theresa May was challenged in the Commons on anti-terror measures. She denied changes in the law made it easier for a network of suspected terrorists to operate in West London - among them, the Islamic State killer Mohammed Emwazi
    • Labour proposed a system of 'yellow-card' temporary suspensions for rowdy behaviour in the Commons. The Speaker said the suggestion had 'merit'
    • Mr Bercow also warned the Palace of Westminster might have to abandoned if repair and modernisation work was not prioritised
    • Pets killed on roads will have to be collected, identified and their owners notified. The move follows a campaign by a woman who wasn't told her dog had died until four months after it had been found
    • MPs went on to debate defence. The chairman of the defence select committee, Rory Stewart, said that if Russia invaded Estonia, NATO would not know how to respond. A succession of MPs argued for defence spending to be at least maintained at the present 2% of GDP.
    • That's all from the Live Page team for tonight. We'll be back from 06:00 to keep you up-to-date on the latest political news and comment.
     
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    Mr Brown responded: "When we introduced tuition fees, and I had my own views on this which I won't go into this evening, they were at £3000. In 2007 we also added protection for poorer students around the maintenance costs....What I can't agree with is that you introduce free tuition, which is what has happened in Scotland, and then you cut the grants for poorer students."

     
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    20:54: Time to move House?
    Houses of Parliament

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    18:26: Gordon Brown speech

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  33.  
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    • David Cameron and Ed Miliband have been promoting their rival plans on housing
    • The Tories have pledged to double the number of new starter homes to 200,000 by 2020 - at a discounted rate for first time buyers
    • Labour want to see 200,000 new homes built a year by 2020
    • The Lib Dems want to see 300,000 new homes built annually by 2020, including 10 new garden cities
     
  34.  
    17:35: 'Deathbed repentance' House of Commons Parliament
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    He claims that a concentration of power in London and the south-east of England "needs to be reversed so the rest of us can have a chance".

     
  35.  
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  36.  
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  37.  
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  45.  
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  48.  
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    Home Secretary Theresa May defending the government's counter-terrorism policies in the House of Commons Home Secretary Theresa May defending the government's counter-terrorism policies in the House of Commons

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  52.  
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  54.  
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  55.  
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  56.  
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  58.  
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  59.  
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  61.  
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  62.  
    15:42: Yvette Cooper House of Commons Parliament

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    Yvette Cooper
    • Control orders were abolished and in some cases people subject to them reportedly left for Syria. Did removing control orders make it easier for terrorist groups to recruit? Will she now look at whether it made it harder for security services?
    • In light of three east London school girls travelling to Syria, was there an agreement with airlines on minors travelling to known Syria routes?
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  63.  
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  64.  
    15:36: Theresa May statement House of Commons Parliament

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  65.  
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  66.  
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  67.  
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    @DouglasCarswell Douglas Carswell, UKIP MP

    tweets: Matter of fact question to minister Nicky Morgan about social mobility / selective schools. She loses it, attacking ukip manifesto. Odd

     
  71.  
    15:11: Chartered Institute of Housing

    The Chartered Institute of Housing has been responding to today's debate. Gavin Smart, interim chief executive, welcomed the focus on supply and affordability that the starter homes scheme represents.

    "But we are very concerned about these sites being exempt from section 106 agreements, which usually require social or affordable homes to be built as part of a development, for people on lower incomes," he said.

    "This smacks of building for one group of people at the expense of another. Social housing is critical if we are going to solve the housing crisis - there are always going to be people who can't afford to buy and we must provide decent, affordable homes for them too. If all the focus is on home ownership, we are never going to build mixed communities."

     
  72.  
    15:07: 'Attainment gap' House of Commons Parliament

    Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt claims "the attainment gap" between poorer and better-off pupils has widened under the present government.

    Education Secretary Nicky Morgan accuses Mr Hunt of talking "drivel" and insists the gap is closing.

     
  73.  
    15:06: Questions on education House of Commons Parliament

    In the Commons, MPs are currently questioning education ministers. You can keep up with the session here.

     
  74.  
    15:03: What's coming up

    A brief taste of what's still to come:

    • An urgent question from Labour's Yvette Cooper on the government's counter-terrorism measures and implications for people travelling to conflict zones such as Syria
    • Former prime minister and ex-Labour leader Gordon Brown will be giving a lecture in Glasgow on North Sea oil
    • At 1900 GMT, Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg will be hosting an hour-long programme on mental health on LBC radio
    • Defence debate in the Commons
     
  75.  
    14:57: Your housing suggestions

    David Cameron announced today that 200,000 homes will be made available to first-time buyers in England by 2020 if the Tories win the election. Here is a selection of emails from Politics Live readers on the subject.

    If Thatcher hadn't been so obsessed in selling off the public housing stock we would not be in this mess.

    If the private sector rented housing stock was in better condition young people wouldn't be in such a rush to buy.

    Let's get some decent affordable rental properties for people to live in and if they still want to buy they have chance to save the deposit.

    Christine Armitage

    It is commonly accepted that the major building firms are not interested in small-scale building/renovation work. Cannot understand why Local Authorities are not far more pro-active in granting planning permission for small-scale builds/renovations on brown field sites in the inner city areas.

    One incentive might be to abolish any rate relief on empty dwellings to encourage owners to either let or re-develop them. Small builds employ proportionately more people than the large-scale, highly mechanised ones.

    S.M.Tiktin, Leighton Buzzard.

    Why aren't any of the parties talking about improving private renting? That could have an immediate effect for millions of tenants, across the country.

    Building new houses doesn't always help: Cambridge has very high house prices and lots of the new building going on but a new build 1 bedroom flat will cost you at least £200,000.

    Rosie Shaw, Cambridge

    Firstly stop any more immigrants coming into the country. That will relieve the pressure on housing and the Health service in one go!

    Douglas Annette, Farnborough

    Do you agree? Email us politics@bbc.co.ukor tweet @bbcpolitics

     
  76.  
    @MichaelLCrick Michael Crick, Channel 4 political correspondent

    tweets: It's now only about 43 days before people start voting (by post) in the 2015 election

     
  77.  
    14:41: Housing crisis Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    We haven't been building enough houses since the 1960s. If you listen to charities like Shelter, they say we should be building a quarter of a million homes every year just to keep up with the pace of demand - due to a growing population and an ageing population. House prices are also going up like rocket fuel compared with wages and houses are getting more and more out of reach for many families.

     
  78.  
    14:39: Miliband on the railways
    Ed Miliband at People's Question Time in Brighton

    This was Ed Miliband in action earlier in Brighton. He also discussed public ownership of the railways, arguing that the coalition "has been doing rail renationalisation by the back door". "So if you are a European public company you can actually bid for the British franchise, but if you are British public company you can't bid for the franchise. This is just absolute nonsense," he said.

     
  79.  
    @SkyAnushka Anushka Asthana, political correspondent at Sky News

    tweets: He argues that 9k is right, but suggests split between graduate & Govt because HE has both a private benefit to grad but public benefit too.

     
  80.  
    14:34: Labour's aspiration

    Also at the "People's Question Time" event in Brighton earlier, Ed Miliband rejected a suggestion that Labour was not doing enough for "aspirational" middle-class voters. The Labour leader said his party's plans to cut tuition fees in England would help young people from all backgrounds.

    "That is absolutely about aspiration... there's nothing more anti-aspirational than kids leaving university with £44,000 of debt," he said. "Investment in our young people is about all of us."

     
  81.  
    @SkyAnushka Anushka Asthana, political correspondent at Sky News

    tweet: Interesting letters in Times on uni funding inc by Roger Brown- prof of HE policy at Liv Hope.

    Letter to the Times on education funding
     
  82.  
    14:18: Ed Miliband: No to voting changes

    Ed Miliband says he won't put his energy in to reforming the voting system if Labour comes to power. He's backed votes for 16-year-olds and says he wants changes to the House of Lords. But speaking earlier in Brighton, he said: "Personally I am more interested in changing the way the country works than the way the way the electoral system works.

    "If you are asking about me as prime minister, where would my energies be put into, it would not be into a big debate about the electoral system."

     
  83.  
    14:15: 'Not the first disagreement'

    David Cameron's official spokesman told reporters earlier of the PM's reaction to his Conservative colleague Ken Clarke's dim view of the promise to cut immigration below 100,000. "You won't be surprised to know that he takes a different view from Ken on this one. It won't be the first time that he and Ken haven't had exactly the same views." On the promise itself, the spokesman added: "The ambition remains the right one, but it's clear it's going to take more time, more work and more difficult long-term decisions in order to get there."

     
  84.  
    14:04:

    The Birmingham Post has picked up on comments we mentioned earlier by one of the city's MPs, Gisela Stuart, about the eye-catching idea of a "grand coalition" between Labour and the Conservatives.

    "As you work through the options, do not rule out that you have a grand coalition," she said in an interview with the Financial Times.

     
  85.  
    14:00: Off the bench?

    Is Sol Campbell the Tories' latest signing? After being talked of as a possible Conservative candidate for London mayor, or the Kensington seat being vacated by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, yesterday he said he was taking things "step by step" . Today, some Conservative supporters have reported receiving emails from the ex-Arsenal and Spurs man, trying to rally them to campaign in North London.

    Email from Sol Campbell
     
  86.  
    13:45: Green belt
    Countryside

    David Cameron's argument this morning that protecting the green built should be "paramount" in future housing strategy has been attacked by the free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. Its director general Mark Littlewood said "constraining housebuilding through artificial boundaries such as green belt restrictions is a key reason why house prices in the UK are very high and new homes increasingly small". He says "people not governments" should decide where houses are built.

     
  87.  
    13:33: Extremism debate The World at One BBC Radio 4 Presented by Martha Kearney

    Prof Michael Gunn says new guidance on extremism should provide "clarity, sensibility, proportionality". He says policy should be about encouraging universities to use current guidance on radical speakers, exploring how to support Muslims and how to utilise links with Prevent. Priority needs to be given to free speech and the guidance should make it clear when there is an exception, he concludes.

     
  88.  
    13:25: Radicalism at universities The World at One BBC Radio 4 Presented by Martha Kearney

    Speaking about extremism in universities, Professor Michael Gunn from the Million+ think tank says universities have obligations to ensure free speech at the moment. Debate is a strong way of "resisting radicalism", he says. Universities take their obligations very seriously, he says. The government recently passed laws aimed at banning all "extremist" preachers from campuses. Tory peer Baroness Neville-Jones says if we were confident we could remove the threat of radicalisation, there wouldn't be an issue. But legislation to make obligations statutory is needed because moves so far have not been effective.

     
  89.  
    13:16: Tackling extremism

    Following his speech earlier, David Cameron was also asked about how to tackle extremism. There has been discussion on the issue in light of facts about Islamic State militant Mohammed Emwazi emerging. Mr Cameron said: "My view is national security comes first whatever it takes, whatever is necessary, to keep the British public safe. I will always be a prime minister who wants to push for those changes, but over time, yes of course we will have to do more, to make sure that as technology develops, we can make sure we keep people safe. I'm not satisfied that we can allow a means of communication to develop which in extremis we are unable to intercept."

     
  90.  
    @BBCRadio4 13:14: BBC Radio 4

    tweets: "It's like a morgue after 7 o'clock." Betty Boothroyd tells Julia Langdon about Parliament now

     
  91.  
    13:01: 'Parliament should stay' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Rehman Chishti says the Parliament in London is iconic and the cost of moving MPs to another city would be high. If Westminster does need to be renovated, he says, politicians should sit nearby.

     
  92.  
    13:00: Parliament on tour? Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Alex Hilton

    Should Parliament be moved away from London? Alex Hilton, from Generation Rent, says yes - to Hull, which has the cheapest rents in the UK. Such a move would help MPs understand and prioritise housing, he suggests, describing today's announcements on the issue as "basically pathetic".

     
  93.  
    12:52: Yellow cards for MPs? Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Nigel Evans

    Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker, describes a Labour idea to give the House of Commons speaker the opportunity to "yellow card" MPs for bad behaviour as "rubbish". The speaker already has the ability to remove MPs in certain circumstances and has lots of discretion at present, Mr Evans says. "You don't want to turn the chamber into a library," he adds. But Labour's Lisa Nandy says the current system hasn't worked.

     
  94.  
    12:50: Defence spending Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Labour's Lisa Nancy says no party has got everything right on defence, but says we need to look at the bigger picture if we want to give the armed forces "the ability to do their job". She says Liam Fox - ex-Tory defence secretary - was guilty of just looking at funding, not the wider picture, in comments had made yesterday. Baroness Brinton says the UK is still a major player in the world.

     
  95.  
    @_katedevlin Kate Devlin, Westminster Correspondent, the Herald

    tweets: "Don't laugh" it could happen" - David Cameron tells people of Colchester about a Labour government propped up by the SNP

     
  96.  
    @fleetstreetfox Fleet Street Fox, blogger

    tweets: Tory discounts for first time buyers mean developers won't be funding new roads/school places. Taxpayers will! Big business wins again.

     
  97.  
    12:47: Getting the right balance Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    On defence spending, Lib Dem Baroness Brinton says lots of money has been going into big schemes like Trident nuclear weapons, but it is important to balance that with boots on the ground.

     
  98.  
    12:46: Defence spending

    The PM is full of reassurance when asked about defence spending. He says he has committed to growing the defence equipment budget by 1% in real terms every year in the next parliament. He also says he knows "how much the Americans appreciate the fact that Britain is a very strong and very capable partner".

     
  99.  
    12:44: Defence spending Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Daily Politics set

    On military cuts, and the head of the US Army saying he is "very concerned" about the impact of those cuts on the UK's armed forces capability, Tory MP Rehman Chishti says David Cameron has made it clear he wants other countries to step up to the plate and commit to spending 2% of GDP on defence. He says he would like to see that figure in the UK, but won't commit to it. Labour's Lisa Nancy says very few countries have made the target and that her party won't reduce the budget any further, pending a strategic review of defence.

     
  100.  
    12:42: TV debates Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Continuing the discussion on personality and policy, Kevin Schofield, from the Sun, says he doesn't think the TV debates will happen now. There are too many obstacles, he says. Laura Hughes, a regional parliamentary reporter, says she thinks they should - and will - still go ahead.

     

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