Ukip's public meeting in London on Wednesday night almost descended into farce as protesters and party members yelled insults outside the forum, and hecklers shouted 'racist' as each speaker took the platform.
It came as leader Nigel Farage took to the stage to directly address assembled reporters, telling them: "I don't care what you call us, but from this moment please do not call us a racist party."
He admitted the party had been left red-faced by a number of racist or sexist candidates, but "there will always be in any system a few people that creep over the line and cause us embarrassment. I would rather that it hadn't happened."
But he said those candidates "have been lifted up and presented to the Great British public as if they represent the view of this party, which they do not".
Around a dozen protesters were bundled out of the meeting at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster, where many of the party's ethnic minority candidates were speaking. None remained to heckle Farage by the time the Ukip leader came onstage.
Ukip member Paula McQueen, addressing the crowd, said she could not believe the racist accusations levelled at the party, when she herself was half-black, half-Jewish.
It's getting spicy in the #ukip room. Another 5 people just escorted out for shouting "racist" at the speaker who is half black, half Jewish— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemJKassam) May 7, 2014
UKIP's Paula McQueen says of protesters: how dare they call us racist when being a black jew and being 60 years old I know what racism is— Ross Hawkins (@rosschawkins) May 7, 2014
Winston McKenzie, the former boxer turned Ukip activist, accused the media of conspiring against Ukip by "looking" for racist stories to smear the party.
Loud boos for reporters at UKIP W'minster rally as ex-boxer Winston Mckenzie accuses media of looking for racist allegations against party.— joncraigSKY (@joncraig) May 7, 2014
Hecklers popped up at every speech, with some shouting "racist", "scum" and others declaring "Ukip is a fake party".
Man in front of me shouts "Scum!" as yet another heckler ejected at UKIP rally. More black, Asian speakers now. Farage due to speak shortly.— joncraigSKY (@joncraig) May 7, 2014
More hecklers interrupt Ukip rally; seven bundled out now I think— Matthew Holehouse (@mattholehouse) May 7, 2014
Another one. Elderly man just escorted out. Didn't even get his first heckle out before he was nabbed. #ukip— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemJKassam) May 7, 2014
When Farage finally took to the stage, he slammed the "white, middle-class" protesters outside, and dismissed the media coverage as the fears of the establishment and the media that "for the first time in 100 years a new political party has come along to cause an earthquake in British politics."
Farage said he was delighted with much of the coverage, especially of his debate with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. "There is one man I really do want to thank... one man who allowed us to have a national debate on television about what the future of the European Union really means to this country.
"That is, of course, Nick Clegg, thank you, thank you, thank you."
"We are run in this country by a bunch of college kids, who all went to the same schools, the same universities, did the same degrees and have never done a day's work in their lives," Farage continued, to cheers from the crowd.
Outside, dozens came to a protest rally organised by Unite Against Facism and the Socialist Worker's party, with several engaged in shouting matches with Ukip members entering the building.
Noisy protest outside Ukip event in Central London. Pink-trousered ukip supporter shouts back: "Buy some soap!" pic.twitter.com/WGI0N9A5zc— Laura Pitel (@laurapitel) May 7, 2014
It is not the first time that the party has been the target for disruption. Just days ago, the Ukip leader was hit by an egg on the campaign trail in Nottingham.
And in May last year, Farage had to be locked inside an Edinburgh pub for his own safety after an 'anti-racism' protest against the Ukip leader turned ugly, with angry demonstrators shouting "Go home!". He was later bundled into a police van and driven away from the scene.Suggest a correction