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UKIP founder: Party has 'gone all anti-intellectual'

LONDON, May 29 (UPI) -- The academic historian who founded the euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party 20 years ago says it has "gone all anti-intellectual."

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Alan Sked of the London School of Economics also said he believes UKIP's recent surge is more apparent than real. He said the party had 26,000 members nine years ago, slightly more than it has now.

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Sked said UKIP's recent electoral success is partly a result of unhappiness with the coalition government headed by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. He also believes the Liberal Democrats' entry into the coalition deprived voters of a protest party.

"UKIP is for many people a stick to beat David Cameron with," he said. "That's what a lot of this is about."

While Sked said he is glad to see Cameron getting pressure on the British relationship with the European Union, he believes UKIP has become racist and anti-immigrant.

"My great regret is that the party I founded has been captured by the radical Right and has gone all anti-intellectual. It's gone completely fruitcake," he said.

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Sked said he tried to expel the current leader, Nigel Farage, for organizing a conference after the 1997 general election to discuss UKIP's failure to win any seats. He said he had to drop the effort when Farage and other people involved threatened a legal fight the party could not afford.

Sked himself resigned as UKIP leader soon after. He had differences with many in the ranks, including wanting to focus entirely on winning seats in the British Parliament, the only legislative body with the power to get Britain out of the EU.

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