UK & World News
UKIP Poll Boost Despite Gaffes And 'Racism'
How big a scandal do Nigel Farage and UKIP have to be engulfed in before they take a hammering in the opinion polls?
The latest furores to hit the party include claims they ripped off BNP posters and an apparently racist attack on comedian and national treasure Lenny Henry.
And yet according to a Sunday Times YouGov poll, UKIP has surged into a lead over Labour in the European elections for the first time.
I'm reminded of the "Paddy Pantsdown" scandal of 1992, when then Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown's poll ratings soared after it was revealed he had an affair.
Now it's Farage who's the Teflon party leader: Nothing is sticking on UKIP, whether it's accusations of racism and sexism or silly campaign blunders.
A Tory insider tells me one wag in Number 10 has claimed that voting UKIP in the Euro elections on May 22 is like "bad behaviour on your stag night, before you settle down and behave responsibly" - and vote Tory - in the 2015 General Election.
Really? Well there's a lot of bad behaviour on the way next month.
A YouGov poll in The Sunday Times shows UKIP surging into a lead in the European elections for the first time.
The poll suggests UKIP support is 31%, Labour 28%, the Tories a distant third on 19% and the Lib Dems on just nine per cent.
On a day when the Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott dubbed UKIP "the BNP in blazers", BNP leader Nick Griffin accused UKIP of a "shameless rip-off" of one of his posters.
Last week, Farage launched UKIP's Eruopean elections campaign in front of a poster van showing a Union flag burning to revealing an EU flag behind it.
It is indeed virtually the same image as a Griffin poster from the 2010 European elections, prompting the BNP leader to accuse Farage of "using BNP rhetoric, using BNP slogans and recycling BNP posters".
But that's not all. William Henwood, a UKIP candidate in the local elections in Enfield, north London, took exception to Lenny Henry complaining ethnic minorities are poorly represented on British TV.
"He should emigrate to a black country," Henwood tweeted.
A black country? He presumably doesn't realise that the comedian frequently boasts of his upbringing in the Black Country, in the West Midlands.
It's the latest in a series of embarrassments and gaffes to hit UKIP over the past week, including an election broadcast whose star was suspended for racist comments, accusations of racism and sexism against a party official who quaffed wine during a YouTube video and a poster showing a jobless builder who turned out to be an Irish actor.
Now nominations have closed for the local elections on the same day as the Euro elections, I predict more disclosures about eccentric and unpleasant views expressed by UKIP candidates, as the other parties trawl through Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
But will they damage UKIP? Not on the evidence so far.