Ukip is backing one of its parliamentary candidates who described gay people as “fucking disgusting old poofters” and referred to a woman with a Chinese name as a “chinky”, saying he was on sedatives for pain relief at the time.
Kerry Smith, who was recently reinstated as the party’s candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has apologised unreservedly for his remarks.
On Sunday Ukip stood by Smith, with the party’s economic spokesman, Patrick O’Flynn, telling the BBC’s Sunday Politics that the remarks had been made while Smith was not thinking rationally.
“This was a phone call some time ago while he was on sedatives by his own account, not really speaking, thinking rationally. He was on prescription sedatives after suffering an injury,” O’Flynn said.
“If Kerry Smith was seriously homophobic he would not be backing David Coburn, who is gay, over Steven Woolfe, who is not [in a party candidate selection contest in 2012]. He needs to learn to express himself more respectfully about minorities. He’s very popular in Basildon.
“The hand grenades are rolling down the corridor again, there’s no doubt about that. But we’ve had a fantastic year, we’ve won two byelections. This week, we’ve had a prominent Labour person saying women could not be fishing minister … a Tory saying the poor can’t cook … it’s not just Ukip is it?”
He added: “I think clearly what he’s said there is unacceptable. He’s apologised unreservedly, there are big mitigating circumstances, it was from some time ago. Anyone who’s a parliamentary candidate for Ukip … has to watch how they express themselves all the time.”
A statement from Ukip on behalf of Smith said: “I wish to issue a wholehearted and unreserved apology to those who I have offended within the party and anyone else. With regards to the leadership and management of the party, I was completely wrong and my comments were fuelled by frustrations.”
The remarks made by Smith were uncovered by the Mail on Sunday, which reported that he called members of a Ukip gay group called LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) “fucking disgusting old pooftahs” and branded them “BLTs”.
The newspaper said he also joked about “shooting peasants”, referred to a woman with a Chinese name as a “chinky”, made claims he later retracted about the party leader, Nigel Farage, and called Woolfe, Ukip’s immigration spokesman, a “fucking carpetbagger” and an “arsehole”.
In October Smith was deselected as the Ukip candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock without explanation, and a new contest was ordered, which was due to include Neil Hamilton, the former Conservative minister, and Natasha Bolter, a former Labour supporter.
The contest descended into chaos as questions were raised by Ukip about Hamilton’s expenses and Bolter became involved in a controversy about whether the party’s general secretary, Roger Bird, had made inappropriate sexual advances towards her. She accused Bird of harassment but after the party suspended him he hit back with text messages suggesting they had been in a consensual romantic relationship.
After both Hamilton and Bolter withdrew as candidates, Smith won back his position as candidate in the Essex constituency.
In a separate controversy also reported by the Mail on Sunday, it emerged that Ukip has sent a survey to supporters asking how close they feel to different ethnic groups on a scale of 1 to 10, with categories including “blacks”, “Muslims” and “eastern Europeans”. Those completing the survey were eligible to win prizes including cash and a Ukip golf umbrella.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010