POLITICS
28/02/2015 10:17 GMT | Updated 28/02/2015 13:59 GMT

Ukip Candidates Have Been Issued A Stern Warning Not To Say Anything Stupid Before The Election

The Ukip leadership had a simple message for its party members and parliamentary candidates gathered in Margate this weekend. Please don't say anything stupid between now and May 7.

Nigel Farage used his speech on Friday to encourage his party members, many of whom have a habit of appearing on the front page of the newspapers for saying controversial things, to campaign in a "positive" way. He left it to three other senior party figures to deliver a stern warning to the party faithful.

David Soutter, Ukip's head of candidates, did not disguise the directive when addressing activists gathered in the sea-side Winter Garden's venue. "Don't let the party down," he said. "Because one of you can make all the rest of us, the work that we do, wasted. And I am sure none of you want to do that."

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He told them that everything they wrote, everything they tweeted and every Facebook friend they made would be under scrutiny by opponents and the press. "One of the things we have to learn collectively is discipline," he said. "It is true we are not a fringe party anymore we are a prospective party of government.

Soutter added a somewhat bold prediction: "Sometime in the next five or six years this conference could be filled with over 300 Ukip MPs."

On Friday the party's economic spokesman and former communications director, Patrick O'Flynn, warned candidates to behave themselves over the next two months. "We have a responsibility, as a collective leadership of the party, to all those candidates in those key target seats. I certainly don't want to wake up on May 8 thinking something that I said made a difference and cost a few votes either way," he said.

The MEP told Ukip activists to be "generous to opponents rather than ranting" and to be "civilised in debate" rather than resorting to "hyperbolic" language.

And Peter Reeve, the party's local government spokesman also warned that Ukip candidates got treated more harshly than those from other parties. "You face a level of scrutiny in this country that has never been seen in politics before," he claimed. "So be on your guard and be careful."