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Farage: Ukip must stay radical and avoid mainstream

Former leader Nigel Farage speaking at the Ukip spring conference in Bolton on Firday. Picture by Peter Byrne, Press Association
Kate Ferguson and Pat Hurst

Nigel Farage has said Ukip must stay "radical" and resist attempts by some in the party to draw it into the mainstream and become "popular".

He dismissed calls for Ukip to try to occupy the centre ground deserted by Labour, and said the party must retain its distinctive, anti-establishment voice.

Ukip should replicate Donald Trump's uncompromising strategy and send a "clear, strong and true message" to the electorate, Mr Farage said.

Speaking at the party's spring conference in Bolton, the former leader hit out at those who are "now urging Ukip to become mainstream".

He said: "Now, I understand this. It's nice to be popular, it's good to get invited to all the right social set parties in London, and I guess it is easier in life to be thought of as nice rather than one of those unpleasant populists.

"But this attitude, folks, is not Ukip. Ukip is a radical party, or it is nothing.

"We need to be leading the political conversation, not trying to sound like all the rest."

Mr Farage said the Labour Party is "miles" away from the working class people they are supposed to represent, but Ukip will not win their votes by moving to the mainstream centre.

He said: "Just look what Trump did in the mid-West of America to pick up Democrat voters and non-voters.

"He didn't do it by tacking to the left, he did it by being clear, and whether the people agree with the whole of his platform or not, that was enough to win the votes in those key swing states.

"And I believe it's the same for Ukip in the Midlands, the North, and parts of south Wales.

"We must not change our policy. We must be seen to be those that fight against political correctness. We must be seen as the party that's moving on the national debate the whole time."

His comments come just a week before the public vote in the Stoke Central by-election, which Ukip leader Paul Nuttall is standing in.

And they suggest Ukip is divided over what strategy to adopt to woo working-class voters disillusioned with the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Farage also said there has been a fundamental "change in public attitudes" towards politicians and the media, and people care more about their national identity than promises about the economy.

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