UK Politics

UKIP 'to highlight black local election candidates'

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Media captionUKIP leader Nigel Farage says he will fight back against criticism his party is racist

UKIP's Nigel Farage has vowed to launch a fight back against claims he is leading a racist party.

He said he planned to highlight the party's black and ethnic minority candidates in its local election literature sent to all voters.

The party has been forced to take action against a small number of candidates over racist comments.

Mr Farage told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show UKIP had "made mistakes" in its vetting procedures.

"Some people have got through. We should have weeded more of them out," he said, but he claimed all parties had candidates that said unpleasant things but UKIP was being targeted because it was seen as a threat to the political establishment.

'Proudly standing'

He told Andrew Marr: "We haven't got a monopoly on unpleasantness and stupidity but not only am I adamant that we are a non-racist party, this week I am going to fight back against it.

"You will see our election address for the local elections this year and you will see a lot of black, ethnic minority candidates who are proudly standing for UKIP and I am going to approach this differently in future."

He added: "I have never believed in positive discrimination in the past, I believe in treating everybody equally, I've never gone for all-female shortlists or whatever, but to see what is written every day - that my party is racist - we will deal with that head on this week."

It comes as a new opinion poll gave UKIP a three point lead in the race to get the most votes in this month's European elections, with 29%. Labour were second on 26%, the Conservatives on 23% and the Liberal Democrats on 10%.

Switch back

But 27% of those surveyed by YouGov for The Sun on Sunday thought Ukip was a party with "racist views" and "many racist members", while 35% thought that, while the party was not racist, it "does seem to attract some candidates or supporters with racist, extreme or odd views".

Some 26% said UKIP was not racist and their "more controversial candidates are just saying the things ordinary people actually think".

The poll came as UKIP was forced to suspend another local election candidate for expressing extreme views on Twitter.

Harry Perry, a would-be councillor in Stockport, posted comments on Twitter describing Prime Minister David Cameron as a "gay-loving nutcase", calling Muslims "devil's kids" and homosexuality "an abomination before God".

Mr Farage accepted that there were "some idiots" in the party as he condemned Mr Perry's comments as "entirely inconsistent" with remaining in UKIP.

The YouGov poll suggested that while Tory and Labour supporters may back Mr Farage later this month, they will switch back at the general election next year.

YouGov polled 1,844 British adults between 30 April and 1 May.