UKIP suspends councillor who blamed flooding on gay marriage

Councillor David Silvester: ''You have to be true to yourself''

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UKIP has suspended an Oxfordshire councillor after he blamed recent flooding on the government's decision to legalise gay marriage.

In a letter to his local paper, David Silvester said he had warned the PM the legislation would result in "disaster".

He said David Cameron had acted "arrogantly against the Gospel".

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was entitled to his "strong Baptist view of the world", but had defied a request not to do further media interviews.

Mr Farage said: "So we suspended him, quite rightly."

'Extremist, barmy or nasty'

"He's not a spokesman for the party," Mr Farage continued, adding: "I've never even met him."

Analysis

UKIP was once dismissed as a party of "fruitcakes" by the prime minister.

The label - especially coming from a Conservative - did Nigel Farage's party no harm. It helped UKIP's image as a group of outsiders and free thinkers.

Indeed, yesterday the party backed Mr Silvester saying: "He is more than entitled to express independent thought whether or not other people may deem it standard or correct."

Mr Silvester has been suspended after ignoring a party instruction not to take his "Baptist view of the world" around the TV studios.

But why was he told to keep his opinions to himself?

The clue might be the European elections which are just around the corner. Some believe UKIP is poised for an historic victory.

The party was embarrassed by the MEP Godfrey Bloom who, last September, referred to countries Britain was sending aid to as "bongo-bongo land". He also jokingly referred to some party members as "sluts".

UKIP does not want any more damaging headlines.

Mr Farage has now told the Sun on Sunday he is vetting his euro-candidates to make sure there are no "extremist, barmy or nasty" views.

Free thought has its limits - even in UKIP.

Conservative Business Minister Michael Fallon said UKIP was "the only big protest party at the moment" and still counted "one or two fruitcakes" among its members.

He told BBC One's Sunday Politics: "Protest parties obviously hoover up a lot of votes and that's why we've got to be very clear now in our European message that we're the only party that can reform Europe and give people a proper choice: the first [EU] referendum for over 40 years."

Earlier, Mr Farage had told the Sun on Sunday that "about five" of the 13 MEPs elected for UKIP in 2009 would not stand again.

"Some have been pushed and some have jumped," he explained.

"Politics needs people with personality and backgrounds and they will all have one or two flaws.

"I have my own red lines on this. That is real extremism and nastiness."

UKIP planned to vet all 1,818 candidates to ensure it didn't have "extremist, barmy or nasty" views, the Sun on Sunday reported.

Mr Silvester, from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, defected to UKIP from the Conservatives in protest at David Cameron's support for same-sex unions.

'Sluts' jibe

In the letter to the Henley Standard he wrote: "The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war."

He added: "I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.

Start Quote

It is his fault that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods”

End Quote Councillor David Silvester on PM David Cameron

"But he went ahead despite a 600,000-signature petition by concerned Christians and more than half of his own parliamentary party saying that he should not do so.

"It is his fault that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods."

He went on to say that no man, however powerful "can mess with Almighty God with impunity and get away with it".

The Rev Colin Coward, from Anglican group Changing Attitude, said: "I don't know where David worships, but clearly it's in a sect, a church which is not mainstream in its Christian practice and teaching.

"It's just prejudice that he is justifying on the grounds of his particular brand of Christianity."

A group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of UKIP said: "We are pleased to learn of the suspension of Cllr Silvester.

"His comments did not only defy logic but they were insulting and have brought the party into disrepute."

In September, MEP Godfrey Bloom quit the UKIP group in the European parliament after joking that a group of UKIP women who did not clean behind their fridges were "sluts".

He had previously faced criticism for referring to countries receiving government aid as "Bongo Bongo Land".

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