John Rees-Evans has joined the ranks of Ukip members whose comments are attracting more attention than the party would like
“Just don’t,” Ukip’s chairman, Steve Crowther, recently told party members tempted to express odd views on Twitter. In the light of a “Gay donkey tried to rape my horse” headline generated by a Ukip candidate in Cardiff, Crowther should probably tell them to avoid being filmed on YouTube too.
The culprit was John Rees-Evans, Ukip’s candidate in Cardiff South and Penarth, who produced his bizarre claim on Saturday in an exchange with protesters outside a new campaign office Ukip has opened in Merthyr Tydfil.
Ironically, Rees-Evans unveiled his contribution to the list of wacky Ukip quotes when he was being asked to respond to some of the most controversial things that Ukip members have said in the past. What about the claim from the chair of a Ukip branch that “some homosexuals prefer sex with animals”?
“Actually, I’ve witnessed that,” Rees-Evans replied in an apparent attempt at humour, prompting a burst of hilarity among the protesters.
“I was personally quite amazed,” he told them. “I’ve got a horse and it was there in the field. And a donkey came up, which was male, and I’m afraid tried to rape my horse.”
So, in this case, whoever made the original claim was “obviously correct” because in this case a “homosexual donkey” was attracted to a horse, Rees-Evans said, in an exchange that was videoed and has been posted on YouTube.
The would-be MP, who runs a tour company taking travellers to east Africa, told the Guardian on Monday: “It is not as though I was making a serious point. I was simply answering a question, rather than telling the person that he was ridiculous for raising it.
“I was asked to respond to quite a bizarre statement, and it’s my view that British people are fed up with politicians evading uncomfortable questions and so I tried to give the only kind of answer I knew how to give because, frankly, I do not have any experience of homosexuality, or humans copulating with animals. So the closest match, from my personal experience, was the case of what appeared to be homosexuality with animals.”
Rees-Evans’s tale may be judged naive, but he conceded that “some people who do have connections with Ukip do say some outrageous things from time to time” and that this was probably related to the nature of the party.
“The reality is that, when you have a party that does not have a whipping system, where politicians fear being disciplined for saying the wrong thing, inevitably you will have quite a diversity of personal opinion,” he said.
David Cameron once dismissed Ukip as “fruitcakes, lunatics and closet racists, mostly” and there is a long history of Ukip figures having to stand down after making offensive comments. The “some homosexuals prefer sex with animals” claim was made by Julia Gasper, who stood down as chair of the Oxford branch after it was revealed last year.
Godfrey Bloom, a former Ukip MEP, sparked outrage by complaining about aid being sent to “bongo bongo land”. A Ukip councillor was suspended last year for sharing offensive material on Facebook about Muslims, and only recently Kerry Smith stood down as a Ukip candidate in South Basildon and East Thurrock after being recorded mocking gay party members as “poofters” and referring to someone as a “Chinky bird”.
Rees-Evans said that, in his experience, when Ukip members said things that were genuinely unacceptable, the party got rid of them.
But some extremist Ukip comments are better classified as bonkers than offensive. The most notorious of these was the claim by David Silvester, a town councillor in Henley, that last winter’s storms and floods were divine punishment for gay marriage. Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, responded by saying that no one had complained about Silvester’s views when he was a member of the Conservative party.
Another category of Ukip “gaffe” has involved party members expressing views that may have once been considered mainstream, but are now widely considered reactionary, such as a Ukip MEP’s remark that women do not have the ambition to get to the top “because babies get in the way”. Farage has repeatedly stumbled into this territory himself, for example with his recent complaint about “ostentatious” breastfeeding.
Rees-Evans said Ukip had to decide whether it wanted its members to continue to be allowed to speak out or whether it should exercise more discipline.
“Ukip is essentially at a crossroads, in the sense that it can go two ways,” he said. “It can either say look, sadly, you guys are going to have to shut up and avoid answering questions, or crack on, answer questions honestly.
“We will occasionally get into trouble but we would prefer to have that kind of libertarian ethos in the party that allows you to say whatever you think.”
Newly elected Redditch councillor Dave Small referred to gay people as perverts and African immigrants as scroungers
Nigel Farage is dealing with fresh allegations of racism and homophobia in his party only days after the local and European elections as Ukip was forced to launch an investigation into comments made by one of its newly elected councillors.
Dave Small, who was elected to Redditch borough council on Friday, faces being kicked out of the party for referring to gay people as “perverts” and African immigrants as “scroungers”.
In comments posted on Facebook, he also attacked BBC broadcaster Clare Balding and singer Elton John over their sexuality and referred to “our sworn enemies in the Muslim world”.
Stonewall’s acting chief executive, Ruth Hunt, condemned the comments, saying Ukip would be “judged by the company they keep”.
She said: “These reprehensible views have no place in modern Britain. We hope the party leadership reviews these comments as a matter of urgency.”
A Ukip spokesman said the party’s national executive committee would look into the posts and decide what action to take. Similar offences in the past have seen members kicked out of the party.
The spokesman said: “All Ukip members and councillors are expected to uphold the values of the party. Where there are allegations that that has not been the case, there is an established disciplinary procedure, which is under the auspices of the national executive committee. We will certainly look at this case.”
The spokesman added that there were already “quite a few cases pending”.
Small’s Ukip colleague Stuart Cross, who represents Redditch South on Worcester county council, said Small was “not wanted” and should resign over the comments. He tweeted: “If the new cllr has said that. Then he gets no support from me. He should resign without hesitation as those views are disgraceful.”
In a post on his Facebook account last June entitled Britain used to be for the British, Small wrote: “Our once great country has become the dust bin for all the world wide money grabbing scum.”
He added: “Why on earth is this useless Goverment pandering to Puffs? I refuse to call them gays, as what has gay to do with Perverts like Elton John and Clair Balding who get their jollies in such disgusting ways. to sum up, they should not allowed to be married, they should go back to the closet.”
In February 2013, he referred to gay people as “perverts” and expressed opposition to “poofs and dykes” being allowed to marry. And he predicted that “thousends mor scroungers” would soon arrive in the UK from Mali as a result of a range of coalition government policies.
Small also complained in a November 2012 post that he was not allowed to use the term “Paki”. And, in June that year, he wrote: “I visiting the city of Birmingham recently and felt like a foreigner in the city of my birth, all around me I could hear the sound of jabbering in an alien voice … we also have the Pakistani’ and the Somali’s. Tell me Mr Cameron Why? the men wear their Pyjamas.”
His comments are just the latest to cause problems for Farage. In February this year, Ukip councillor David Silvester was kicked out of the party for saying that gay marriage was to blame for the storms that lashed Britain last winter.
Farage himself faced criticism after insisting that people would be justified in worrying about Romanians moving in next door. And, in April, Ukip donor Demetri Marchessini told Channel 4 News that a man could never rape his wife because “once a woman accepts, she accepts”.
Last week, BBC News’ Jasmine Lawrence was removed from the corporation’s election coverage after tweeting a derogatory comment about Ukip as the country was about to go to the polls.
The party made gains in the local elections, prompting Farage to claim that the “Ukip fox is in the Westminster hen house”. But the BBC’s projected national share figure showed Ukip got less than the 23% it had in council elections last year. Moreover, the party does not control any local authorities.
Anti-Ukip campaigers Still Laughing at the UK Independence Party said Dave Small was “another example in a long list of Ukip candidates who, having just been elected as a councillor, reveals himself on Facebook as a racist and a homophobe”.
Small did not respond to a request for comment.
A UKIP councillor who blamed recent storms and flooding on the legalisation of gay marriage has been expelled from the party.
Town councillor David Silvester, from Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, was suspended by the party on 19 January.
Mr Silvester made his comments in a letter to his local newspaper, the Henley Standard.
Henley-on-Thames Town Council will hold a meeting later to discuss the fallout around his comments.
Ukip’s latest parliamentary hopeful has refused to criticise homophobic comments made by one of the party’s councillors who blamed recent flooding on gay marriage.
John Bickley, who is standing for Ukip in next month’s Wythenshawe and Sale East byelection, said “I am not going to condemn someone for their religious beliefs.”
But he added that the party was right to suspend David Silvester, a councillor in Henley-on-Thames who said gay marriage was a “spiritual disease” that caused the floods over the Christmas and New Year period.
Bickley, launching his campaign in Sale, Greater Manchester, on Thursday, said: “I think it’s absolutely OK for somebody to have a personal view, whether you agree [with it] or not.”
He said Ukip was growing very quickly, and that it was inevitable that there would be a range of views within a larger party membership.
Bickley hopes to overturn Labour’s 7,575 majority on 13 February. The byelection was triggered by the death of MP Paul Goggins this month.
Bickley, a former Labour supporter and son of a “staunch trade unionist” who grew up on the Wythenshawe housing estate, joined Ukip in 2011.
“Labour has let down the working class, and my father, a lifelong supporter [of the Labour party] and trade unionist, would be turning in his grave,” he said on Thursday.
Paul Nuttall, deputy leader of Ukip, said he was confident Bickley would poll strongly, and “change the stereotype that we are a southern party made up of ex-Conservatives”.
Nuttall, who had been mooted as a possible candidate for the seat, said: “I’m making it my life’s mission to prove that Ukip does appeal to voters in the north.”
Bickley, 60, runs his own firm selling a mobile phone app producing personalised greetings cards. But he has also worked for EMI records in sales and marketing and Psygnosis, a video games firm bought by Sony.
He said he decided to enter politics after becoming disgusted with David Cameron for reneging on the Lisbon treaty. “Parliament has outsourced the running of this country to the EU, it needs to take responsibility,” Bickley said. “I love Europe, it’s people and culture, but Labour and the Conservatives have subjugated – by stealth – control of this country to the EU and its quangos.”
In the 2010 general election Ukip came in fifth place, polling 1,405 votes in a constituency that includes the affluent suburb of Sale as well as Wythenshawe, which is among the most deprived areas of Greater Manchester.
In Sale town centre on Thursday Caroline Lewis said she was a recent convert to Ukip, having previously voted Conservative.
“I’m voting for them precisely because of immigration and Europe. Our hospitals are at breaking point, our pensioners are dying from the cold. It’s all wrong,” said the 37-year-old telesales executive.
The other major parties have yet to announce their byelection candidate. On Friday Labour will chose from a shortlist of five: Manchester city councillors Rosa Battle (niece of the former Labour MP John Battle), Catherine Hynes and Suzannah Reeves; Mike Kane, acting chief executive of Movement for Change, a network of community organisers; and Sophie Taylor, a physiotherapist and Trafford councillor.
So this is all very revealing.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has admitted that homophobic UKIP Councillor David Silvester wasn’t suspended for his disgusting views towards gay people, rather he was suspended for making UKIP look foolish in the media.
Writing in his online Independent column Farage wrote ” Ukip does not suspend people for holding religious views any more than we would call for religious texts to be banned and firmly believe that tolerance is a two-way street. But the party chairman has decided on this occasion to use the emergency powers available to him to suspend Mr Silvester. This is because of his behaviour, not his views, and is similar to the action we took over Godfrey Bloom when he decided that clunking Michael Crick around the head with a brochure was now permitted in the rules of engagement.”
So Farage and UKIP don’t actually object to blatant homophobia ?
But if you make Farage & UKIP look silly in public you are out so be warned.
UKIP have called upon emergency procedures to suspend Councillor David Silvester following remarks made to the media over the weekend.
The South East UKIP Chairman Roger Bird has stated
“We cannot have any individual using the UKIP banner to promote their controversial personal beliefs which are not shared by the Party. Everyone is entitled to their own religious ideology which is central to a free and fair society.
Councillor Silvester’s views are his own and in no way reflect the Party’s position. Indeed Councillor Silvester himself has clearly stated this.
However, Councillor Silvester has today acted contrary to Party requests and continued to court the media in order to promote his own personal beliefs. This has caused significant offence to many people and goes against the core principles of UKIP.
It is not fair on the many thousands of hard working members of UKIP to have one person take attention away from their efforts and successes by promoting their own controversial views despite being requested not to do so.”
Hope not Hate
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has confirmed that there are extremist elements within the ranks of his xenophobic party.
Speaking to the country’s media Farage said that he promised to rid the party of its more extreme candidates ahead of the European and Local council elections in May and has promised to vet all 1,818 candidates to make sure they do not have “extremist, barmy or nasty” views.
Farage promised the crackdown following the huge amount of unwanted coverage UKIP received yesterday following the comments by Henley on Thames UKIP councillor David Silvester who declared that Gay marriage was to blame for the floods that devastated large areas of the UK.
Hope not Hate