Richard North, 10/12/2004  

With the world crashing around us, UKIP has once again captured some headlines, this time with the shattering news that its deputy Mike Natrass is going to stand in the general election against Bill Cash MP, doyen of the Eurosceptic movement.

Mr Cash is not everyone's cup of tea but no one can dispute that he puts a great deal of work into pursuing the anti-EU agenda, so his absence from the Parliament induced by UKIP splitting the vote would be serious blow to the cause. One wonders, therefore, what UKIP thinks it is playing at.

However, I hugely enjoyed – in an ironic sense – UKIP leader Roger Knapman (aka "the invisible man") defending his party’s decision on Radio 4’s "World at One", when he claimed: "We’ve got a real input into politics".

Even many members of his own party may not be agreeing with this, given the recent saga of the UKIP draft manifesto, published briefly on the UKIP website and then hastily withdrawn after it was rejected by its NEC on Tuesday.

Not the sharpest knives in the drawer, even the NEC members were embarrassed by the puerile naivity and lack of political nounce displayed by the document, which could not have been worse if it had been written by a seminar of primary school kids.

If you want to sample the toe-curling embarrassment for yourselves, it has been republished on another site here. If you want to follow the full ghastly saga of UKIP’s attempt to pretend it is a grown-up party, have a look at UKIP Uncovered.

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