Days after Russell Brand labelled Nigel Farage a "pound shop Enoch Powell" on BBC1's Question Time, evidence has emerged that Ukip begged the former MP for his backing in the 1990s.
The Telegraph says it has seen correspondence showing Ukip founder and then leader Alan Sked pleaded with Powell to back the party and even stand as a candidate in European elections.
"A large number of people, many of them known to you, have suggested to me that I invite you to be our candidate for Central London in the Euro-Elections. As you know, we don't intend to take up seats or salaries. We fight our course in the UK alone," the hand-written note reportedly says.
"All you would have to do would be to allow your name to be used, design your own election address and make as many statements as you saw fit. There need be no meetings or actual campaigning. What do you think?"
Powell, who died in 1998, was notorious for his 1968 Rivers of Blood speech, which cost him his job in the Conservative shadow cabinet and overshadowed race relations for decades.
I enjoy seeing Nigel Farage in a boozer with a pint and a fag, laughing off his latest scandal about breastfeeding or whatever, I enjoy it. But this man is not a cartoon character. He ain’t Del Boy. He ain’t Arthur Daley. He is a pound shop Enoch Powell and we’ve got to watch him.
- Russell Brand on Question Time this week
The Telegraph says Farage personally wrote to Powell in 1994 asking him for support, saying a word from him "could transform things".
"Please give us the help you can," he said.
Powell, who died in 1998, told Sked he had retired following his parliamentary defeat in 1987 and although he did later help three Ukip candidates, Farage was not among them.
In 2008 Farage said Powell was one of his political heroes, saying he agreed with the "basic principle" of the Rivers of Blood speech.
"While his language may seem out of date now, the principles remain good and true," he said at the time.
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