Ukip surges to new poll high despite racism accusations
Ukip surged to a new poll high today, despite ongoing revelations of racist and far-right behaviour from its candidates.
The latest YouGov tracker poll for the Sun put the party on 14% – the highest result the polling firm has shown for the party.
The result is not unsurprising given the extent of the media coverage the party has enjoyed over the last week, as it stands an unprecedented number of candidates in the local elections.
Much of the coverage has been negative, but exposure of council candidates appears to have little effect on a party which is winning support by appealing to an anti-immigrant, anti-establishment vote.
A ComRes poll painted a more sombre picture, however, with Ukip down one point to 13%.
The party last night expelled an election candidate who was pictured on the front of today's Daily Mirror making a Nazi salute.
In another shot, he clenched a knife in his teeth against the backdrop of the union flag.
Speaking on the Today programme, Nigel Farage insisted his was the only party to bar people who had previously been members of extreme right groups.
"We have done what due diligence we can at branch level. If people seem to be very odd, we didn't accept them," he said.
But the Ukip leader got himself in hot water when he used the term "coloured people" during the interview.
"The Tory party sacked somebody last week, who was a serving councillor, for talking about coloured people coming into Sussex," he said.
Conservatives say they expect to lose as many as 800 council seats in Thursday's elections, although the party is likely to be upping the number as part of its expectation management strategy.
More reliable indicators suggest the party will lose about 310 seats while Labour will win 350.
Ukip are predicting 100 gains.
The Tories are still struggling with how to deal with the Ukip threat.
The party was widely presumed to be behind many of the revelations of Ukip candidate behaviour on social media over the last week and Ken Clarke went on the attack over the weekend by saying it attracted "waifs and strays".
But other voices say the Tories need to build bridges with the eurosceptic party or risk splitting the right-wing vote and letting Labour in.
The idea of a 'Vote Nigel, Get Ed' message is gaining increasing currency among Conservatives.
Speaking in Somerset yesterday, David Cameron said: "It’s a simple and straight choice, at your county council and at the next election, between the blue team who want to keep getting the deficit down, who want to keep reforming immigration and welfare to make it fair, or you have the red team who put the deficit up and who don’t care if our immigration and welfare system works at all."
The polls open for the local elections on Thursday.