Farage admits there are some UKIP candidates "we'd rather not have"

After expelling a former BNP activist, the UKIP leader says the party lacks the resources to properly vet all of its local election candidates.

Nigel Farage is one of the most assured media performers in British politics, so it's worth noting a rare slip by the UKIP leader. After the party was forced to expel a county council candidate who turned out to be a former BNP activist, Farage admitted on The World At One that it lacked the resources to properly vet all of the 1,734 candidates it is standing in next Thursday's elections. 

He told the programme:

When it comes to the general election and the European elections we have put in place a very rigorous testing procedure ... I'll be honest with you, we don't have the party apparatus to fully vet 1,700 people.

Farage said that UKIP made all of its candidates sign a declaration form stating that they had never been a member of the BNP, but then added:

I have no doubt that among these 1,700 one or two will have slipped through the net that we'd rather not have had.

It is hard to think of a greater gift to UKIP's political opponents. By voting for the party are you inadvertently supporting a racist or a fascist? Don't ask Nigel Farage, he can't tell you. 

Update: With impeccable timing, here's one candidate who appears to have "slipped through the net". Anna-Marie Crampton, who is standing for the party in Crowborough, East Sussex and was photographed with Farage two weeks ago, wrote on the website Secrets of The Fed that the Second World War was began by "Zionist jews" as part of a masterplan to create the state of Israel. She said:

The Second World Wide War was engineered by the Zionist jews and financed by the banksters to make the general public all over the world to feel so guilty and outraged by the Holocaust that a treaty would be signed to create the State of Israel as we know it today.

Another comment, posted two months ago, read: 

The Rothschilds are Zionists..there is a difference between Jews and Zionists. These Psychopaths hide behind and use the Jews.

It was thanks to them that 6 million Jews were murdered in the War (along with 26 million Russians!).

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he "didn't have the party apparatus to fully vet 1,700 people." Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Ignored by the media, the Liberal Democrats are experiencing a revival

The crushed Liberals are doing particularly well in areas that voted Conservative in 2015 - and Remain in 2016. 

The Liberal Democrats had another good night last night, making big gains in by-elections. They won Adeyfield West, a seat they have never held in Dacorum, with a massive swing. They were up by close to the 20 points in the Derby seat of Allestree, beating Labour into second place. And they won a seat in the Cotswolds, which borders the vacant seat of Witney.

It’s worth noting that they also went backwards in a safe Labour ward in Blackpool and a safe Conservative seat in Northamptonshire.  But the overall pattern is clear, and it’s not merely confined to last night: the Liberal Democrats are enjoying a mini-revival, particularly in the south-east.

Of course, it doesn’t appear to be making itself felt in the Liberal Democrats’ poll share. “After Corbyn's election,” my colleague George tweeted recently, “Some predicted Lib Dems would rise like Lazarus. But poll ratings still stuck at 8 per cent.” Prior to the local elections, I was pessimistic that the so-called Liberal Democrat fightback could make itself felt at a national contest, when the party would have to fight on multiple fronts.

But the local elections – the first time since 1968 when every part of the mainland United Kingdom has had a vote on outside of a general election – proved that completely wrong. They  picked up 30 seats across England, though they had something of a nightmare in Stockport, and were reduced to just one seat in the Welsh Assembly. Their woes continued in Scotland, however, where they slipped to fifth place. They were even back to the third place had those votes been replicated on a national scale.

Polling has always been somewhat unkind to the Liberal Democrats outside of election campaigns, as the party has a low profile, particularly now it has just eight MPs. What appears to be happening at local by-elections and my expectation may be repeated at a general election is that when voters are presented with the option of a Liberal Democrat at the ballot box they find the idea surprisingly appealing.

Added to that, the Liberal Democrats’ happiest hunting grounds are clearly affluent, Conservative-leaning areas that voted for Remain in the referendum. All of which makes their hopes of a good second place in Witney – and a good night in the 2017 county councils – look rather less farfetched than you might expect. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.