Ukip faced fresh embarrassment over the views of its local election candidates last night after one proposed that Britain should “ban Islam and knock down all the mosques” and another said that Mo Farah is not British because he is “an African”.
In a series of postings on her Facebook page, Jackie Garnett, who is standing to become a Ukip councillor in Oldham, proposed that all mosques should be destroyed and accused Muslims of carrying out “ethnic cleansing” against the English.
Describing her home town of Oldham as disintegrating because of “the immigrants”, she accused “the Muslims” of turning “many of the small areas of the town into ghettos”. She added: “Ethnic cleansing is going on in this country and its the english (sic) that are being diluted.”
Another local election candidate, David Wycherley, questioned the background of Farah in postings on his Facebook page during the 2012 London Olympics. Mr Wycherley, who is standing in Walsall, suggested that the double Olympic champion, who grew up in London after moving to Britain at the age of eight, was not British because he is “an African”. He asked his friends: “Can somebody explain please . . . Mo Farah, an African from Somalia, who trains in America, has won a gold medal for Great Britain!”
Neither candidate could be reached for comment.
Ukip said that it was a “non-racist, non-sectarian party”. A spokesman added: “Where evidence is produced to indicate a breach it will be considered at the earliest opportunity by the national executive committee as part of an established disciplinary procedure.”
The online postings raise further questions over the Eurosceptic party’s vetting procedures days after it suspended Andre Lampitt, one of the stars of its televised election broadcast, over a string of racist messages on Twitter.
William Henwood, a Ukip council candidate who was criticised for remarks about the comedian Lenny Henry, ended his association with the party yesterday. Mr Henwood had tweeted that Mr Henry should emigrate to a “black country” in response to the comedian suggesting that there were not enough ethnic-minority faces on television. He later said: “If he wants a lot of blacks around, go and live in a black country.”
Mr Henwood’s comments were condemned as “absolutely disgusting” and racist by Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary. Mr Henwood’s involvement with Ukip was ended after it was “mutually agreed this would be the best course”, a Ukip spokesman said. He added: “Mr Henwood’s remarks about Lenny Henry caused enormous offence and Ukip MEP candidate for the West Midlands Bill Etheridge spoke for many in the party with his strong condemnation.”
However, Mr Henwood’s name will appear alongside Ukip’s logo on ballot papers next month because it is too late for them to be changed.
The party also announced yesterday that it had begun expulsion procedures against two members after an internal investigation found that they had been involved with far-right groups. One of the men was described as having been a member of the British National Party from 2005-10, and a second had donated to the English Defence League. Ukip did not disclose their names, saying that they still had a right to appeal to the party’s national committee.
Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, said that attempts by the three established political parties to portray Ukip as racist would prove a “disastrous mistake”. “I think the British public will take this extremely badly,” he said. “I believe they want and appreciate the new choices being offered to them by Ukip on issues like immigration control, and will certainly not appreciate being branded racist for doing so.”
Ukip is hoping to defeat Labour in the popular vote in the European election on May 22, the same day as local elections. It took the lead in a YouGov poll over the weekend.
The Ukip MEP Roger Helmer has defended his views on homosexuality after allegedly telling The Sun that Britons should be able to despise gay people. Defending remarks he made in 2000 that homosexuality was “distasteful if not viscerally repugnant”, the MEP said: “Different people have different tastes. You may tell me you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it.” In a blog he wrote that “prejudice, hostility and violence against homosexuals are totally unacceptable”.
Jackie Garnett’s accusation that Muslims were responsible for the “ethnic cleansing” of Oldham (above) was posted on eHow in March last year, while her call for Islam to be banned and mosques demolished (below) was posted on the Rise of UKIP Facebook page in response to an invitation to suggest policies the party should adopt “to change Britain for the better”.
Update: See “‘Ban Islam’ candidate kicked out of UKIP”, Oldham Evening Chronicle, 9 May 2014