Election 2015

Election 2015: Why is UKIP off to a slow start?

Nigel Farage Image copyright Getty Images

I am not sure if it is by design or if he just wants a slow start, but two days in to this general election campaign and UKIP leader Nigel Farage appears to be taking it easy.

Or at least that is how it seems.

This is a candidate who has to win on 7 May. If he fails to become the next MP for South Thanet he has said he will quit as leader.

Yet I have seen no door-knocking. Our cameras have not been told of any public event, yet.

We have had two poster-unveiling ceremonies with impromptu leader interviews. He arrives, he speaks, he answers questions, then he leaves.

He stayed for a brief coffee at the seaside event today, but most of the accompanying media - including myself - were locked out of a nearby pub while he sat inside, speaking to a very small, select group of journalists.

Debate prep

Today it was immigration, UKIP's big issue. The number one issue in this election, according to Nigel Farage. He unveiled a poster, answered some questions, then went on his way after an hour or so.

Immigration

UKIP

Main pledges

  • Points system used to select migrants with skills and attributes needed to work in the country
  • Immigration capped at 50,000 people a year for skilled workers
  • Five-year ban on immigration for unskilled workers
  • Five-year wait before migrants can claim benefits

The UKIP leader says the public will not start paying attention to this campaign until after Easter.

At the same time, his party does not have the money for the busy bus-centred start that some of the others have gone for. And perhaps the reality is that the campaign has been up and running since the new year; this is merely a continuation.

But Nigel Farage does not look like a man fighting for every vote in the Kent countryside. Perhaps he is, and UKIP does not want us, or you, to see that. Or perhaps he has gone for the slow start on purpose. It's possible he doesn't want to bore people, or that he wants to appear different to the other candidates.

He is off on Wednesday attending a private event, for which his absence is completely understandable. Then on Thursday he is behind closed doors preparing for that evening's seven-way TV election debate. Then it is his birthday. I suspect he will pop up on Friday if he has done well in the debate.

There is no question that Nigel Farage works hard. He is frenetically busy, and has been for years. He, more than the other leaders, carries the weight of his party's success on his shoulders.

But it has been a slow start so far. Or at least it looks like that.

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