Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge has been caught in a race-row once again after praising Adolf Hitler for his “magnetic and forceful” qualities as a public speaker to a roomful of prospective party candidates.
Mr Etheridge referenced the Nazi leader’s behaviour during his speeches at the Nuremberg rallies while training young Ukip members planning on standing for council or parliamentary elections, according to the Mail on Sunday.
The West Midlands MEP – who has written a book celebrating “golliwogs” – called on candidates to look to a “hateful figure who achieved a great deal” during his talk.
“Look back to the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history.
“When Hitler gave speeches, and many of the famous ones were at rallies, at the start he walks, back and forth, looked at people – there was silence, he waited minutes just looking out at people, fixing them with his gaze,” he said.
“They were looking back and he would do it for a while. And then they were so desperate for him to start, when he started speaking they were hanging on every word,” he said, adding: “I’m not saying direct copy – pick up little moments”.
No stranger to controversy, Mr Etheridge defected to Ukip after claiming that his “right to express his views” were being stifled by the Conservative party.
He and his wife had left the Tories after they were summoned to a disciplinary committee and suspended after a colleague complained about pictures on Mr Etheridge’s Facebook page showing him posing with a “golliwog” doll.
He later wrote a book celebrating the controversial children’s toys, using them as an example in his argument about “political correctness”.
The Ukip training session was described by Labour MP Mike Gapes as ‘unbelievable’.
He said: “I thought nothing could surprise me any more, but this just goes to show that Farage has completely failed to clean up his party.
“One of his MEPs training young candidates to speak like Hitler? Simply unbelievable.”
Ukip has repeatedly faced public outcry following offensive or controversial comments by its members. Last year Godfrey Bloom resigned following a string of incidents including joking that the party’s female activists were “sluts”, while earlier this year William Henwood, an Enfield council candidate, suggested comedian Lenny Henry should leave Britain to live in a “black country”.
Party leader Nigel Farage, who is expected to run for Parliament in the next election, has not commented on the most recent incident.
Instead Mr Etheridge released a statement responding to the criticism surrounding his speech. He said: “I was talking about a whole range of public speakers and the techniques they used. I also mentioned Tony Blair.
“At no point did I endorse Hitler or anybody else. I was merely discussing public speaking and the techniques used down the years.
“Hitler and the Nazis were monsters and I am angry that I am even being asked questions about whether we would wish to be linked with them. Yet another cheap shot to deal with from the media.”