Jeffrey William Titford

Jeffrey Titford

Jeffrey William Titford (born October 24, 1933 in West Mersea, Essex) is a British politician, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the East of England.

He had been at various times a member of the Conservative Party (for whom he was a local councillor), the New Britain Party and the Referendum Party. He was the most successful Referendum Party candidate in the 1997 general election, winning nearly 10 percent of the vote in Harwich. However, later that year he joined the UKIP.

In 1999, Titford became one of the first UKIP representatives to win a seat in the European Parliament. In 2000, UKIP's then leader, Michael Holmes, MEP, resigned amidst serious infighting. Jeffrey Titford narrowly won the ensuing leadership election, promising to reunite the party and restore its effectiveness as a campaigning organisation. This he largely succeeded in doing. The Guardian newspaper described him in 2001 as "an emollient man, a sort of Willie Whitelaw figure, and an ideal leader for such a fractious party". He led UKIP into the 2001 General Election, in which it stood more than 420 candidates but failed to make any breakthroughs (although it did consolidate its position as the largest of the smaller parties). In October 2002, Titford stepped down as party leader to allow his successor time to lay out his strategy for the 2004 European Election. He also wanted to spend more time on political campaigns in the East of England, where he continues to be an active MEP. He was re-elected with a greatly increased majority in the 2004 European elections.

Titford is regarded by many in UKIP as the nearest the party has to an elder statesman. In October 2005, UKIP's leader Roger Knapman announced that he was appointing Titford as party chairman for an interim period.

Before entering politics he was a businessman, and was president of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

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