Kerry Smith was right to resign, says Ukip deputy chair

Ukip’s Kerry Smith, who resigned as a prospective parliamentary candidate after recordings of him making homophobic and racist remarks were leaked, may have been forced to quit despite the party initially standing by him, Ukip’s deputy chair has suggested.

After recordings of Smith referring to gay people as “fucking disgusting old poofters” and to a woman with a Chinese name as “chinky” were handed to the Mail on Sunday, Ukip’s economics spokesman, Patrick O’Flynn, said Kerry had been on prescription sedatives after suffering an injury and had not been thinking rationally.

But on Monday Suzanne Evans, the deputy chair, said she was pleased that Smith had withdrawn his candidacy for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and she described the scandal as a “disaster” for the party.

She told BBC2’s Daily Politics: “What I am pleased about is that he has resigned and stood down, whether he was on sedatives or not. I think the party wholeheartedly accepts that is wasn’t a good enough excuse and we are all delighted that he has done the decent thing and fallen on his sword.”

Asked why Ukip had waited for Smith to resign, Evans said: “I think he was pushed.” She said Smith had been an inappropriate choice of candidate.

However, she did not apologise for the initial loyalty of the party. “I think we like to act with compassion and kindness and I am not going to apologise for that and to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Evans added: “It has not been a good week, and we have to be honest admit that. We are a fairly new party. Like any growing organisation, any growing business, there are teething troubles. And I think the difference between us is that we deal with them.

“If you look at some of the other issues that are going on, you know there is a 10-year paedophile scandal in Westminster that none of the main parties want to address whatsoever. We have got expenses scandals, the shocking statistics this week about the number of people being given British passports that are actually criminals – they should be sitting here answering questions, not just me.”

Smith initially apologised after the Mail on Sunday published its story, and later resigned. He said in a statement: “I want the best for South Basildon and East Thurrock and I want to see the real issues discussed that touch the lives of people. Therefore I have chosen to resign so that Ukip can win this seat next May.”

Steven Woolfe, the Ukip MEP for the North West, told the Today programme that the party’s reaction to the scandal showed that it had grown up. “The fact that we have someone who has made racist and homophobic language has gone within 24 hours shows the strength of the team behind us who are making sure that we have no one in this party who has such views representing our party and the people that vote for us,” he said.

In telephone call recordings made two years ago, Smith reportedly can be heard to joke about “shooting peasants” and referring to Woolfe, Ukip’s immigration spokesman, as a “fucking carpet bagger” and an “arsehole”.

In October Smith was deselected as a candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock without explanation, and a new contest was arranged featuring the former Tory minister Neil Hamilton and Natasha Bolter, a former Labour supporter. Smith was later re-selected when questions were raised about Hamilton’s expenses and Bolter withdrew from the race after making sexual harassment allegations against the party’s general secretary, Roger Bird, who denied the claims.

Evans said Ukip was under a great deal of scrutiny from the mainstream media, and other political parties had units dedicated to monitoring their members’ Twitter feeds. “We are put under an enormous amount of scrutiny, and I don’t mind scrutiny as long as it is fair and across the patch and equal with that of other parties,” she said.

Powered by article was written by Frances Perraudin, for The Guardian on Monday 15th December 2014 16.32 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010