UKIP's hopes high as conference begins

UKIP starts its Welsh conference in Margam flushed with optimism following its success in this year's European elections, two parliamentary by-elections and with all the indications that it can gain support in Parliamentary and Assembly elections over the next 18 months.

The party's leader Nigel Farage will be speaking to members at a reception this evening (Friday) and addressing the conference on Saturday.

He can be sure of a warm welcome from an enthusiastic membership that isn't put off by the criticism of other parties and embarrassments such as when the party's leader Nigel Farage admitted that he 'misspoke' when he disowned UKIP's policy on sex education.

In Wales, the party wants to use its success in the European election, when it came close to beating Labour into second place, as a platform to begin turning votes into seats.

It's focussing on traditional Labour-voting areas as MEP Nathan Gill explained at the party's UK conference in Doncaster.

That hasn't gone unnoticed by Labour which is planning to launch a campaign today which will tour through those heartland areas highlighting what it calls UKIP's hypocrisy.

Other parties in Wales are concerned too. So worried were Plaid Cymru leaders that they could lose the party's seat in the European Parliament as a result of UKIP success that they contacted directly every voter or potential voter to urge them to turn out.

That controversial, but successful, core vote strategy also saw Plaid leader Leanne Wood use her conference speech to say that 'a vote for UKIP was a voter against Wales.'

But attacks from other parties, accusations of racism, policy confusion don't seem to stop UKIP's support from increasing.

The latest Wales Barometer Pollshowed UKIP picking up Welsh votes, but possibly not seats, in next year's UK election and enough support to win up to 9 seats in the Assembly in 2016.

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