Hidden Histories #15: The Founding of UKIP

Daniel

Here is Anti-Federalist League (AFL) candidate Alan Sked campaigning for your vote in the Newbury by-election in 1993. A young Nigel Farage can be seen second from the right.

Alan Sked had founded AFL some 2 years earlier in protest against the Maastricht Treaty and

“…to mobilise public opinion in defence of British sovereignty and to prevent the UK becoming a province of a united European superstate”.


The Maastricht Treaty

The Maastricht Treaty was a controversial treaty which nearly bought down John Major’s government. The treaty has subsequently been updated/consolidated and is now known as the Treaty on European Union.

It established the European Union. It paved the way for the introduction of the Euro, created European Citizenship, shared foreign and security policies, and turned what was previously the European Communities into an “ever closer” political union.

If you’re bored and hate yourself you can read the entire original treaty here (link to PDF). Here’s a snippet setting out some of its objectives:

Since the dawn of time, the issue of the UK in or out of the EU has always split political parties, and the Maastricht Treaty was no exception. Many members of the Conservative Party who disagreed with John Major’s support of the Maastricht Treaty became known as the “Maastricht Rebels” — here’s quite an interesting Newsnight report that summarises it.

The AFL produced various leaflets and campaigning material — this one in particular outlines some of its key criticisms of the treaty:

For the AFL, the way forward would be for a loose association of all the European states which all retain their independence and allow them to trade equally and collaborate with European and other partners. They also felt that…

“…The people of Britain should not be forced to give up their independence, their Parliament and their democratic traditions. Since they are not consulted and are not to be allowed to vote on the matter, they are in effect being forced”.

On the 15th of May 1993, members of the Anti-Federalist League (AFL) met to discuss the future of the AFL after the recent Newbury by-election, where Alan Sked, the AFL candidate, came in 4th with 1% of the vote share. Their aim wasn’t necessarily to win at this point, but rather to raise awareness of the issue, as he explains in a letter about previous elections with low vote share:

In this meeting, a member raises the issue of changing the name AFL to something else, and suggests The UK Independence Party, which had been suggested before. Alan Sked was sceptical at first as the minutes of the meeting show. Towards the end of 1993 a full-blown political party was formed, and the name-change went ahead, creating UKIP. The AFL ceased to exist.

In October 1995, UKIP holds its first ever national conference in the Old Theatre at LSE, which begins with “a Scottish piper leading in the National Executive Committee”:

Alan Sked eventually resigned from UKIP in 1997, sighting the rise of right-wing extremism in the party (see here and here for more on his resignation and a UKIP timeline). Since then he has distanced himself from the party —here he is on Sky News back in 2015 talking about the state of UKIP:

Further Reading

Alan Sked’s archives are held at LSE Library, which includes papers relating to the Anti-Federalist League and the early days of UKIP. These archives are open to all. There are many other archive collections on this theme, such as archives of the Campaign for an Independent Britain and other Eurosceptic papers, as well as “pro Britain in EU” archives such as the European Movement, and the Federal Trust.

Daniel

Written by

Daniel

Politics Curator at the Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Sharing "hidden histories" from the archives.

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