POLITICS

Ukip Insists It Can Afford Nigel Farage's £46,000 Advert

20/05/2013 15:36 BST | Updated 20/05/2013 16:03 BST
PA
Leader of UKIP Nigel Farage, smokes a cigarette whilst talking on the phone on the local campaign trail during a visit to Ramsey in Cambridgeshire.

Ukip insists it is not in debt - despite "throwing the kitchen sink" at its local election campaign.

The party has also taken out an advert in the Daily Telegraph, believed to cost £46,000, in an attempt to lure disaffected Tory voters.

But a spokesman insisted: "We feel it's worth it."

Nigel Farage's party recently wrote a "begging letter" to members, appealing for cash. Treasurer Stuart Wheeler reportedly said the party's strong performance in the polls had "disappointingly" not resulted in an increase in donations.

Party finance figures show Ukip is lagging well behind the Westminster establishment it hopes to challenge in terms of its bank balance.

In the latest figures published by the Electoral Commission, Ukip was given just £47,650 in the first quarter of 2013 - compared to £1.8m to Labour and £3.4m to the Conservatives.

Its Treasurer, gambling tycoon Stuart Wheeler, has claimed many former Conservative supporters are pledging money below the threshold at which they would go public.

Wheeler himself had donated hundreds of thousands of pounds, and Ukip spokesman Gawain Towler admitted the former Tory donor was "massively important" to Ukip.

Monday's Daily Telegraph advert is believed to have cost £46,000 - the full-page rate, according to the paper's website - which is the equivalent of more than 1,500 annual memberships of the party.

Towler said he had "no idea how much it cost", but added: "We feel that it's worth it, in the environment we are in, with other political parties failing miserably to connect with the voters."

Ukip was "speculating to accumulate", he added, saying most of the party's money is raised from "membership and small donations."

Deputy leader Lord Christopher Monckton also accounted for a number of donations worth thousands of pounds according to the latest breakdown.

Another donor, businessman Demetri Marchessini, has advised women not to wear trousers because of their "big bottoms", it emerged last week.