July 19, 2024

Brighton Journal

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UK reform campaigners subjected to racist abuse

UK reform campaigners subjected to racist abuse

Warning: This story contains language that may offend.

Apparently homophobic and racist comments made by members of the UK Reform movement were recorded by an undercover Channel 4 journalist as they campaigned for Nigel Farage’s nomination to become Member of Parliament for Clacton.

Reform UK said those making “unacceptable comments” would no longer be part of Mr Farage’s campaign.

The secret recordings include a conversation between what appear to be UK reform organizers.

One man associated with the party appears to have made homophobic comments, calling the pride flag on a police car a “degenerate flag”.

“What does the old bill do to promote this nonsense?” the group asks.

He repeatedly suggests that members of the LGBT+ community are child molesters and criticizes the police presence at pride parades.

He adds that if a future UK Reform government forms a government, “our police officers will be paramilitary, they will not be police” and they must “return the noose”.

He is also shown telling an undercover reporter why Reform UK chose to run in Clacton, saying: “Take a look around, real England. You know what I mean, real English.”

He added that it was “not like in London, when you are a foreigner in your own country” and “if you say hello to anyone” it looks as if they are about to “stab your face in with a knife”.

BBC News was unable to verify the identity of this man and is trying to contact him.

Mr Bates later told Channel 4 News his comment was a joke and made clear he was not responsible for campaign spending.

Reform UK told the program that campaign spending “falls within statutory spending limits”.

Footage broadcast by Channel 4 shows further racist, homophobic and Islamophobic insults apparently made by Andrew Parker, identified as a preacher for Mr Farage, who used a racist slur to refer to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is of Indian origin.

Video comment, Watch: UK reform campaigner in secret recordings on Channel 4

Mr Parker was also heard describing Islam as “the most disgusting sect” and suggesting that army recruits carry out “targeting training” by shooting at small boats carrying illegal immigrants to the UK.

At one point, Mr Parker told voters the reform would “kick all the Muslims out of the mosques and turn them into just Witherspoons”.

During the campaign, the undercover reporter advised using the term “illegal” when discussing immigration, especially when addressing non-white families.

Ahead of the footage being released, Parker made a statement to Channel 4 claiming that “Nigel Farage personally or the Reform Party are not aware of my personal views on immigration”.

Parker said: “I have never discussed immigration with Nigel Farage or the Reform Party, and any comments I make during those recordings are my personal opinions on any topic I commented on.”

“I would therefore like to sincerely apologise to Nigel Farage and the Reform Party if my personal views have reflected poorly on them and brought them into disrepute as this was not my intention.”

Speaking at a Reform UK event in Boston, Lincolnshire, party leader Nigel Farage said the party was not “perfect”.

“We had one or two candidates who said things they shouldn’t have said,” he added. “In most cases, they talk like normal people.

“They are not part of the mainstream political discourse at Oxford and Cambridge, and we understand that. In some cases, one or two people let us down and we let them go.

“Well, compare that to the modern-day Tory-led international betting and price-fixing ring.”

Alongside him, party leader Richard Tice, at the Huberts Bridge Community Centre, said the racist comments were “inappropriate”.

He said: “We have issued a statement, and everything is clear in the statement.

“The reality is that we are a fast-growing movement, and when you have unpaid volunteers, some people behave inappropriately. And they’re gone.”

Peter Harris, director of the Reform UK campaign in Clacton, said he was “appalled by these alleged comments”.

“All parties in such a short campaign will have to deal with the challenges of working with many activists they may not have met before,” Harris added.

“Any individuals identified as making unacceptable comments and holding these views are not welcome in our campaign. We are running a campaign to represent all voters in Clacton.”

Other candidates for the Clacton General Election can be found here.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer described the comments as “clearly racist” and claimed the scandal was a test of Mr Farage’s leadership.

“A leader has to change his party to make sure the culture is right and the standards are understood by everyone within the party,” Sir Keir told the BBC.

“You have to ask yourself why so many people who supported reform are being put at risk in this way,” he added.