After the Mail on Sunday's awkward front page about Ukip Councillor Victoria Ayling's apparently unsavoury views, Nigel Farage has sent an email around to party members complaining about the story and reassuring them that Ayling's views have been distorted. Here is the text of the email:
'I am sure many of you are aware of the attack by the Mail on Sunday on a Ukip Councillor this weekend.
'I firstly want to reassure you that I believe this attack on Victoria Ayling to be unwarranted, and have the utmost sympathy with her. Her words on immigration it would appear were deliberately distorted and taken out of context in order to paint a very nasty picture. She has personally assured me that this is the case and I have no reason to doubt her. As a result I believe it is fair to say she is the victim of an extremely unpleasant political attack.
'This indicates very clearly to me the sort of tactics our political opponents will use in the run up to the European elections next year. Because they cannot beat us on policy, they will be increasingly inclined to play the man, not the ball.
'We must therefore be extra vigilant. In politics it is not always clear who we can trust and there will be plenty of opportunists hoping to find ways of undermining UKIP.
'As a Party we are subject to increasing levels of scrutiny, which demonstrates just how powerful a force we are in UK politics. But unlike the other parties, the establishment, via the media, is focused on trying to find ways of discrediting us rather than discuss the real political issues upon which we are so strong.
'However we must seek to stay positive. We are now entering one of the most important fights the party has ever faced and I believe we have every reason to be confident of future success in changing the face of British politics.'
It's interesting that Farage essentially adopts the same line of complaint that Ed Balls made at the weekend about his Autumn Statement performance: journalists are out to drown out my important policy message with tittle-tattle because they prefer the Tories. It's quite a good device for uniting a group of people, arguing that all the others are out to get them and they must stick together and trust no-one even when this increased scrutiny of Ukip's representatives is in fact the biggest compliment the party could have: it shows that Farage's band is powerful enough to be taken seriously.