England’s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has been criticized for its perceived racism. Last week, a local Council candidate fed into those perceptions with a two racist tweets.
William Henwood is a UKIP candidate in a local council election in Enfield, North London. According to the BBC, Henwood let loose two racist comments via Twitter:
- In the first, Henwood attacked British comedian Lenny Henry, who is black. Via Twitter, Henwood said, “He (Henry) should emigrate to a black country. He does not have to live with whites.” When asked for clarification by a BBC commenter, Henwood said, “I think if black people come to this country and don’t like mixing with white people why are they here? If he (Henry) wants a lot of blacks around go and live in a black country.”
- In a second tweet, Henwood said, “Islam reminds me of the 3rd Reich Strength through violence against the citizens.”
Henwood’s comments were condemned by politicians of multiple parties, including at least one member of his own. A Conservative Health Secretary called the remarks, “absolutely disgusting” and added that, “I think it is for Nigel Farage [leader of the UKIP party] to make absolutely clear that that isn’t UKIP’s official view but also to explain why so many people with those kinds of views seem to be attracted to becoming candidates for UKIP.” Roger Helmer, a Member of Parliament with UKIP, called the comments “unacceptable.”
What was most interesting, from my perspective, is the pivot from a UKIP spokesman, who said, “Any breach of our rules will be duly investigated and action will be taken. However one has to question why the other parties are spending hours behaving like secret police and trawling through the social media of UKIP candidates who are everyday men and women, rather than actually doing politics.” This was particularly interesting to me because it shows that there are some similarities in politics across the western world: When attacked, pivot by blaming the media.
In an interview after the tweet, Henwood said that he didn’t find the comments offensive. Because he lives on another planet, apparently.
The news of the offensive tweets comes after a series of other incidents involving racism and the UKIP, including racist tweets from the “poster boy” of its election broadcast. The tweets in and of themselves are obviously both racist and offensive, and only a fool would deny it. What is even worse for UKIP is that the tweets fit into the narrative of UKIP being the party of racists. I don’t know British politics to know whether or not this is an intentional positioning by UKIP, but there is no shortage of examples that tie their party to racists and racism. Henwood’s tweets are just the latest example.
Anything else to add? Let me know in the comments!