Farage: Ukip has moved on from being fruitcakes

'We’ve moved on from being fruitcakes', Nigel Farage declared. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

We’re with Nigel Farage as he and his team work through a table of treats laid on by Ukip volunteers in Dudley. He picks up a cupcake, iced with the Ukip badge, and declares, “We’ve moved on from being fruitcakes”.

It sounds like a throwaway reference to David Cameron’s now infamous dismissal of his party as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. But perhaps there’s more to it.

Nigel Farage is trying to change people’s perceptions of Ukip as a “party of protest”. And as part of that process - unfashionably, he says - he is going big on defence, promising “more funds, more respect and more support” for servicemen and women.

He has David Cameron in his sights, who is under pressure from former generals and some members of his own party to spend at least two per cent of Britain’s GDP on defence. Ukip promised to do just that, and to appoint an independent veterans’ minister.

I ask Farage what people might think about spending more on tanks and gunships at a time when many people are reliant on food banks.

“Defence matters” he says. “There’s this narrative that there are no votes in defence, no one cares about defence … That’s wrong”.

But for all the talk of a new message today, there’s something familiar about all of this: Ukip would help fund the promises with big cuts to the amount that Britain spends on foreign aid.

The Conservatives say Farage’s plans don’t add up.

Nigel Farage unveiled this election campaign poster for Ukip. Credit: Ukip

“He’s already spent the money from Britain’s international aid budget on 15 different things and the money from our EU budget on 12 different things” a spokesperson said.

Perhaps the more difficult question is how the changing threat to our national security might alter the way that our military should be staffed.

I ask Farage what he believes the greatest threat to our security is. “The whole point about threats is that you don't know where they might come from,” he says.

And when asked whether he would be willing to push the button on a British nuclear weapon, he simply dismisses the question as “ridiculous”.