In a serious of astonishing remarks, Nigel Farage’s top aide Matthew Richardson condemned the NHS as “the biggest waste of money in the UK”
Nigel Farage’s right-hand man has branded the NHS “the biggest waste of money in the UK” and compared the health service to Nazi Germany.
In a series of astonishing remarks, Ukip general secretary Matthew Richardson condemned the NHS and called for it to be privatised.
His comments – made to an American audience and revealed by the Sunday Mirror – will be a huge embarrassment to leader Mr Farage, who is now facing calls to axe his Mr Richardson.
A City barrister hired by Ukip to keep “bad stuff” out of the media, bespectacled Mr Richardson, 34, explosively compared the NHS – cherished by millions as Britain’s greatest post-war achievement – to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
Speaking at two events for right-wing activists in Washington, he launched a ferocious attack on the service, blaming it for much of the nation’s debts.
He said: “A number I couldn’t possibly imagine when I was younger is now the amount of money that is owed by my country… of course, at the heart of this, the Reichstag bunker of socialism, is the National Health Service.
“And that is why socialised health care is so dangerous – because it is a ratchet. Once it is in place it is very, very hard to get rid of.”
He also launched a vitriolic attack on taxpayer-funded cosmetic surgery.
“I promise I’m not making this up – breast augmentation, hymen repair for those who want to be born-again virgins, is paid for by the National Health Service,” he told his audience of young Americans.
“If you have low self-esteem you get new breasts, but if you are dying of breast cancer you can’t have the treatment you need to stay alive. “
He added: “Socialists think that if somebody wants to reassign their gender the state should pay, they think that’s how the world works. So if you love she-males come to the United Kingdom, if you love freedom – stay here.”
The Reichstag bunker was the air-raid shelter in Berlin which became the infamous heart of the Nazi regime at the end of the World War Two. It was where Hitler married Eva Braun in 1945 before the pair committed suicide.
The emotive comparison will infuriate hardworking doctors and nurses.
One veteran nurse stormed: “We save lives every day. Is this Ukip character seriously comparing us to one of the world’s mass murderers?”
In his speech in 2010 to Young America’s Foundation Conservative Student Conference in Washington, Mr Richardson also said the NHS was the “sacred cow of British politics” – but that he hoped David Cameron would start privatising it.
Referring to Labour, Mr Richardson sneered: “This socialist Government wastes money like you can’t imagine. They have started doing every wasteful scheme under the sun.”
In a second speech in Washington at the Conservative Political Action Conference that same year Mr Richardson repeated his claim that the NHS was a massive drain on resources.
He said to the applause of his audience: “The biggest waste of money of course in the United Kingdom is the NHS.”
His comments will pile the pressure on Ukip about its plans for the health service – despite its claims that it is opposed to privatisation.
The revelation is a gift to Labour ahead of Mr Farage’s planned appearance on tomorrow’s Andrew Marr show on BBC1.
Shadow Minister without Portfolio Jon Trickett called on Mr Farage to sack Mr Richardson, or come clean and admit that Ukip backs an NHS sell-off.
“Either Nigel Farage supports this or Mr Richardson cannot stay in post,” he said. “Nigel Farage cannot simultaneously defend these comments and claim that his party stands for the NHS free at the point of use.
“The man chosen by Nigel Farage to control Ukip’s image has compared the NHS to Hitler’s Nazi bunker.”
He went on: “This is Ukip’s real agenda on the NHS. They claim to defend the service we cherish, but they want to dismantle its foundations.
“UKIP can no longer attempt to fool people. They are a party of Tory people, Tory money and they want to extend the worst Tory policies, which would have horrific effects on working people.”
Mr Richardson sat alongside Nigel Farage at the launch of UKIP’s local election campaign in 2012.
And he was one of only two officials to accompany the party leader to the House of Commons to see Tory turncoat Douglas Carswell introduced as a Ukip MP last October.
Labour faces a battle to stop disenchanted voters switching their support to Ukip, best known for its hardline policies on immigration and Europe.
Labour strategists plan to draw the contrast between Mr Richardson’s remarks on the NHS and their 10-year plan for the health service, to be unveiled on Tuesday.
Labour will also release a video of Mr Richardson’s NHS remarks, as well as launching a website called meetnigelfarage.com which invites voters to read Mr Farage’s words and make their own judgements.
Ironically, Mr Richardson was appointed as UKIP’s ruling general secretary in 2013 to keep bad news about the party buried.
Leaked minutes from the party’s ruling national executive committee reveal: “We need to ensure all of the bad stuff is kept out of the public domain. As party secretary [Mr Richardson] would try to ensure that we keep a tight rein on things.”
His remarks on the NHS are a major embarrassment to Mr Farage, who was himself forced to deny he backed privatising the NHS after remarks he made in 2012 were made public.
Mr Farage was caught on camera telling supporters that the state-funded NHS should move towards an insurance-based system run by private companies like in the US.
Earlier this month Ukip’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall insisted: “It might be better if you brought in a private company who you could hire and fire on results.”
And today the party’s health spokeswoman, MEP Louise Bours, gaffed by admitting: “I have no experience in health whatsoever.”
Tonight a Ukip spokesman said Mr Richardson was “specifically talking about the growth of middle management which had not reflected a growth in health outcomes”.
Responding to calls to sack him, he added: “It’s none of Labour’s business who we employ or don’t employ.”
Internal rows suggest the party is struggling with pressure in run-up to the general election
Ukip is facing pre-election turmoil after policy differences and personality clashes burst into the open, with the party’s health spokeswoman slapping down Nigel Farage’s suggestion the NHS could eventually be privatised.
Amid signs of in-fighting and internal rivalry, a senior source admitted last night that the mood in Ukip’s higher echelons had become “scratchy and irritable” ahead of the 7 May ballots.
There is also dismay in parts of the party over the slow progress in compiling its manifesto, with the MEP responsible for drafting the document revealed to have recently relinquished responsibility for the task.
A fresh spotlight was shone on Ukip’s growing pains yesterday in a BBC interview when the party leader raised the prospect of ultimately replacing the state-funded NHS with an insurance-based healthcare system.
While stressing his party remained committed to healthcare free at the point of delivery, Mr Farage indicated it was “a debate that we are all going to have to return to” because of Britain’s rapidly ageing population.
Ukip’s health spokeswoman Louise Bours swiftly contradicted her leader as she insisted the vast majority of party members “will always favour a state-funded NHS”.
Ms Bours said: “Nigel is entitled to his opinion and others are entitled to theirs, we don’t whip people into all thinking the same thing, like the establishment parties.
“As he has said before, he raised the idea for discussion a while ago, the party discussed it and rejected it. I am certain that if the party discuss it again, we will reject it again.”
The clash followed the disclosure that Suzanne Evans, Ukip’s deputy chairwoman, had taken over the writing of the party’s manifesto from the Euro-MP Tim Aker.
He was reported to have fallen behind with completing the final draft, leading to protests from candidates that they were struggling to answer voters’ questions on the doorstep.
The party dismissed claims he had been sacked as “complete tosh” and said he had asked about 10 days ago to be relieved of the duty, although sources acknowledged Mr Aker had been behind schedule as he attempted to juggle his other jobs as an MEP, councillor and parliamentary candidate.
Work on the manifesto was also affected by the furore surrounding the party’s general secretary, Roger Bird, who was cleared internally of a sexual harassment allegation but stood down from his post by mutual consent.
Meanwhile, the party has been hit by a farcical series of events over its choice of a candidate in the Essex seat of South Basildon and East Thurrock. Kerry Smith – who was selected after the former MP Neil Hamilton pulled out amid controversy over his expenses – was forced to quit over offensive remarks he made in a telephone call.
Evidence is also emerging of rival camps gathering around Mr Farage and Ukip’s first elected MP, Douglas Carswell. The MP for Clacton upset some party traditionalists with a call for it to be “inclusive” and is understood to be at odds with senior figures over health and defence policies.
Ukip leader says the “one thing” that could derail his party’s hopes for political success is if critics are able to link it to a “racist age”
Nigel Farage has admitted that his party will be “buried” if people are able to link the UK Independence Party to a “racist age”.
The Ukip leader made the unguarded comments at a meeting of senior party figures following allegedly racist comments made by a councillor on the internet.
The Telegraph has been passed a copy of minutes made at the meeting of Ukip’s national executive committee which met to discuss Chris Pain, who was suspended by UKip in 2013 over allegedly racist posts on his Facebook page.
Mr Pain claimed the posts were the work of a malicious hacker. A police investigation could not find sufficient evidence to prosecute.
At the meeting, held in June 2013, Mr Farage described the alleged comments as a “grave lack of judgement”.
He warned that “the one thing that is able to bury the Party if [sic] they can link us with a racist age”.
His comments show the level of concern amongst senior members of Ukip about the party being linked to allegations of racism.
Both the Conservatives and Labour have attempted to paint Ukip as a party with old-fashioned views that has no place in modern Britain.
A series of figures in Ukip also appeared to use the meeting to attempt to brush Mr Pain’s alleged comments under the carpet.
David Coburn, now an MEP in Scotland, described the controversy as “a technical/PR problem’ and asked: “Do have anyone that can come up with a sufficiently greasy excuse?”
Ukip has in recent months been embroiled in a number of controversies surrounding allegedly racist comments made by its candidates and members.
The party was forced to distance itself from a claim by Kent councillor Trevor Shonk that the established parties “have made the country racist because of the influx” of immigration.
And Kerry Smith was axed as a would-be MP after it emerged he mocked gay party members as “poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone as a “Chinky bird”.
Mr Farage defended the language, saying Mr Smith was a “rough diamond” council house boy who “speaks in a way that a lot of people from that background do”.
Douglas Carswell, who earlier this year became Ukip’s first MP in the Commons after defecting from the Conservatives, has warned that his party must show an “inclusive” face and not blame immigrants for Britain’s woes if it is to become a serious force in politics.
He said that a said that a dislike of foreigners was “not merely offensive but absurd”.
“No Ukip candidate should ever make the mistake of blaming outsiders for the failings of political insiders in Westminster,” he said.
“There has never been anything splendid about isolation.
“It was our interdependence that put the Great into Great Britain – and it is what sustains our living standards today. In such a world, a dislike of foreigners is not merely offensive, but absurd.”
Ukip did not respond to requests for a comment.
Following the debacle in Clacton that saw the UKIP PPC Roger Lord passed over in favour of Tory turncoat Douglas Carswell, it appears the same could be about to happen in nearby Basildon & Thurrock.
Lord branded Douglas Carswell as “arrogant” and a “gutless coward” claiming that he was betrayed by UKIP following Carswell’s defection and selection in the seaside town.
The disgruntled Lord resigned as a UKIP county councillor and eventually left the xenophobic party following his shoddy treatment by Farage and co.
A little further south in the Basildon & Thurrock constituency, things aren’t quite as rosy for UKIP.
Basildon UKIP chairman Kerry Smith has been deselected by UKIP as the PPC in favour of a “big fish” candidate.
The Basildon councillor received a phone call from the party informing him he would not be standing for Stephen Metcalfe’s seat in South Basildon and East Thurrock.
Smith told the local press he was disappointed and didn’t know what was going on.
Gavin Callaghan, Basildon Labour Group Leader, said: “The decision to deselect him shows what we all know – UKIP in Basildon is in disarray. They don’t speak with one voice, they split on every vote. They are letting the residents of Basildon down badly.”
Former Christian Peoples Alliance leader Alan Craig – who has warned that same-sex marriage amounts to “child abuse” – says he’s campaigning for UKIP by-election candidate Douglas Carswell.
Mr Craig is notorious for his extreme anti-gay views. In a recent blog post, the right-wing Christian branded same-sex marriage a “democratic disgrace” and described it as “social vandalism by the Tory Bullingdon boys”.
The ex-councillor and former 2008 London mayoral candidate also revealed he had applied to join UKIP and was supporting former Tory Douglas Carswell’s bid to become UKIP’s first elected MP.
In his blog, Alan Craig wrote: “Whatever you think of the issue itself, the gay marriage legislation last year was a democratic disgrace. Faithful one man/one woman marriage has been a defining and enduring bedrock of our society and culture – and the preeminent place of nurture for the nation’s children – for a millennium and a half.”
“Yet without warning, electoral mandate, Green or White Paper consultation or intelligent debate, and egged on by media, the PR industry, Hollywood celebs and the all-powerful gay lobby on both sides of the Atlantic (the UK perennially follows where the US leads), our political leaders like lemmings rushed off the marriage cliff and into the gay sea while emoting loudly and stupidly that it is ‘all about love’.
“Overnight, unitedly and unnecessarily they redefined, enfeebled and wrecked a hugely beneficial social institution.”
Mr Craig added: “As a consequence procreation and child-rearing are no longer primary purposes of marriage and conjugal faithfulness is no longer a primary characteristic. Marriage is no longer marriage.”
In a post published earlier this year, titled ‘Gay marriage and child abuse’, the former Christian Peoples Alliance leader mocked the wedding announcement of gay parents Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow.
“The problem is that all gay marriages are a counterfeit,” Mr Craig wrote. “According to the government and unlike conventional marriages, gay marriages cannot be consummated and adultery cannot be reason for divorce. So same-sex partners in a gay marriage are free to play the field whereas husbands and wives in a real marriage promise to be faithful ’til death us do part’.
“By firmly bolting a counterfeit on to the hallowed institution of marriage, parliament has diluted, distorted and, in the end, dismantled an invaluable social institution. And it is the nation’s children, who need stability, commitment and faithfulness at home to best flourish, who will suffer.”
Mr Craig, an ex-councillor for the London Borough of Newham, was nominated for Stonewall’s ‘Bigot of the Year’ award in 2012.
Ukip’s existing general election candidate in Clacton-on-Sea said he had no intention of standing aside for the Conservative defector Douglas Carswell – and even said that the Tories had been making overtures to him.
Roger Lord, a former Conservative candidate turned Ukip member, said that the announcement by Carswell “was a complete surprise to me”. He said that he had first heard about the news whilst at work, when he was called.
“There are some basic courtesies that one expects. Douglas Carswell could at least have called me an hour before his announcement,” Lord said.
“It’s pretty arrogant of Douglas Carswell to assume that the voters and the electorate are like sheep and they will just go along with this.
“I genuinely hope that the national executive of Ukip will hear me out. For starters though It’s pure bad manners for someone from Ukip who I have never met to just ring me up and tell me to shut up.
“Nigel Farage also contacted me and I had a word with him. I have known him since 1997 and have stuck with him but I do have a few options open. I have been contacted by a prominent Eurosceptic who I have known for a long time and he said that he would back me 100%.
“A bottom line though is that I would like a fair hearing and to stand on a stage with Douglas Carswell to put my side of the story. I have stood in several general elections and I have stood on platforms with a good many MPs and I know that I can hold my own.
“After I was selected I had already formed campaign team, which actually includes campaign members who are former supporters of Douglas Carswell. They have already said to me that they are not going to support him.”
Tory Douglas Carswell has defected to UKIP and quit as MP for Clacton, saying he will contest the subsequent by-election for the party.
If he wins the support of voters he will be the first elected UK Independence Party MP in the Commons.
The maverick Eurosceptic backbencher said he wanted to “shake up” the cosy Westminster “clique”.
Mr Carswell made his surprise announcement at a news conference in central London.
He told reporters he did not believe Conservative leader and Prime Minister David Cameron was “serious about the change we need”.
He said the decision to jump ship from the Conservatives had given him “sleepless nights” but he wanted to see “fundamental change in British politics” and UKIP – a party he believed belonged to its members rather than a “little clique” of political insiders – could deliver it.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who this week was selected to fight South Thanet at the 2015 general election, said it was the “bravest and most honourable” decision he had ever seen in British politics.
Mr Carswell has been an outspoken critic of Westminster politics since being elected in 2005, calling for more democratic accountability such as open primaries to select candidates and recall elections for MPs who break the rules.
Explaining his decision to force a by-election – which he did not have to do in order to sit as a UKIP MP – he said: “The only honourable thing to do is to say to the people of Clacton, who I represent in Westminster, it’s their choice.”
Mr Carswell, who was an early supporter of Mr Cameron when he was bidding for the party leadership, said he had not spoken to the prime minister before announcing his decision.