UK Politics

UKIP voters 'satisfied with Farage', party chairman says

Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell - in happier times

The majority of UKIP voters are satisfied with leader Nigel Farage, says party chairman Steve Crowther.

His comments come after UKIP's only MP, Douglas Carswell, said the party needed a fresh face at the top.

Mr Crowther said Mr Carswell was an "independent thinker" who was "musing aloud" but it was "absolutely wrong" to suggest Mr Farage had peaked.

He said UKIP's ruling executive committee would want to talk to Mr Carswell when it met in January.

Clacton MP and Conservative defector Mr Carswell told the BBC on Friday that the party needed to "change gear and to change its management if it's to go the next level".

He did not mention Mr Farage but said "no party is defined by any one person."

'Speed bumps'

Mr Farage responded to his comments by saying he should "put up or shut up" and called for him to "stop sowing division".

Despite the party gaining nearly four million votes across the UK in the 2015 general election, Mr Carswell was UKIP's only winning candidate.

Mr Farage failed to get elected in Thanet, after which he briefly resigned.

His party won control of Thanet District Council - the first authority in the UK to have a UKIP majority - but they have since lost overall control.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption UKIP polled a distant second to Labour in the Oldham by-election in November

Mr Crowther told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that political life was not "without its speed bumps".

"We are continuing to progress. We took control of the council, we had four million votes in the general election, and our poll ratings are holding up."

The party chairman said a recent survey among UKIP voters put Mr Farage's satisfaction ratings at 93%.

He also said there was a "time and a place" to have discussions about the leadership of the party but on the eve on an EU summit and the BBC was neither of those.

"All political parties have conversations about how it's going," he said. "But these are things that ought to be held within the party."