Nigel Farage has said he does not expect Douglas Carswell to succeed him as leader of Ukip, as he set his sights on winning votes from Labour at the general election.
Speaking to reporters following his speech to the party's conference in Doncaster on Friday afternoon, Farage said he was not leading the party "for the long term" but rather because there was a "real window of opportunity" for Ukip to make a breakthrough in Westminster in 2015. "I don't want to sit here in ten years," he said.
Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives in August, has given the party another heavyweight figure. But Farage indicated he did not believe the man likely to become the party's first elected MP would succeed him in the top job. "I think its more likely that Ukip will be led by a woman next than any party," he said.
Farage repeated that he would stand down as leader should Ukip fail to secure any MPs at the election on 7 May. "I'll be gone at midnight the next day," he said.
Carswell is widely expected to win the Clacton by-election on 9 October. And Farage admitted the media may see Carswell as something of a joint-leader of the party given the ex-Tory would be in the Commons, but insisted that did not phase him. Describing Carswell as an "honest, decent, honourable man", he said: "If Douglas wins, not only will he do a good job he might be quite a good recruiting sergeant."
In his speech, which was received with rapture by Ukip members in the Doncaster Race Course venue, Farage said he believed the party was on track to win enough MPs at the general election to hold the "balance of power" in Westminster.
"If we hold the balance of power there won't just be a referendum on our EU membership there will be a culture change in British politics. It will be a kind of politics that represents ordinary men and women in this country. It will be politics of change, it will be a politics that is better than the one we have today," he said.
While Carswell is hoping to win Clacton, Ukip is also causing Labour to sweat in the Heywood and Middleton by-election due to be held on the same day. However Farage said he thought winning the seat was probably "too big a mountain to climb in such ha short space of time" for Ukip. The admission may come as a surprise to the party's candidate, John Bickley, who earlier today encouraged party members to help him win.
In his speech, Farage said Ukip was "parking its tanks" on the Labour Party's lawn. And the location for conference, Doncaster, was deliberately chosen as the city contains Ed Miliband's constituency. "This party is not about left and right, this party is about right and wrong," he said.
Some in Miliband's inner-circle have believed Ukip is mainly a threat to the Tories and that a split in the centre-right vote will help Labour win the election. However there are signs that the party is starting to worry about Ukip taking traditional Labour votes.
Douglas Alexander, the party's election co-ordinator, told Labour delegates that he took Ukip "very seriously". And Rotherham MP Sarah Champion told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning that Labour was "in real difficulty". She added: "Their tanks are digging up my lawn."
Labour believes key to tackling Ukip is to paint the party as simply a turbo-charged version of the Conservative Party, or "more Tory than the Tories".Suggest a correction