Although UKIP held their own in the European elections, going from 12 to 13 seats, their allies from the far-right Independence and Democracy group fared less well. Cathy Sinnott lost her seat in Ireland, eurosceptics were wiped out in Denmark and Sweden, and the French sovereigntist Mouvement Pour la France was reduced to just Phillipe de Villiers. Meanwhile, the awful Jim Allister (one of the few unionist politicians to be more extreme than Ian Paisley) also lost his seat having run on the ticket of his personal vanity project Traditional Unionist Voice.
As a result, the Ind-Dem group folded and Farage went around with a begging bowl trying to find other nationalities to form a group with UKIP. The result does little to alter the perception that UKIP keeps company with homophobes, racists and assorted nut-jobs.
The European Freedom and Democracy group brings together UKIP and the Italian separatist Lega Nord as the main components, with the two deputies of the Greek LAOS and an MEP from the Political Reformed Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, SGP), a party from the Dutch Protestant right emphasising moral issues - both of which were within the old Ind/Dem grouping in the last parliament - as well as two from the Danish People's Party, and one each from the True Finns and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists.
UKIP is always at pains to stress that it is a cuddly non-racist, mainstream party. Yet, though its new comrades are not quite as beyond the pale as the National Front or BNP, many are either xenophobic, hompohobic or overtly racist.
The Lega Nord may be in government in Italy, but this only highlights how extremely right-wing the Berlusconi coalition is. The party's leader, Umberto Bossi, in 2003 called migrants from Africa "bingo-bongos" and said boats of irregular migrants attempting to disembark in Italy should be fired upon Another of their number, Giancarlo Gentilini, deputy mayor of Treviso and member of the party, in 2007 called for the "ethnic cleansing" of homosexuals. He has also said of immigrants: "We should dress them up as rabbits and go bang, bang, bang with a rifle."
Meanwhile Søren Krarup of the Danish People's Party, has said "Islam has for 1,400 years attempted to conquer and repress European Christianity." In 2007, he described the religion as "a totalitarian regime that has thousands of human lives on its conscience."
"The headscarf is a symbol of this regime and the Qur'an may very well be compared with Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'," he said at the time.
Lovely stuff. Respectable and non-racist? UKIP just got to these low-lives before the BNP did.