The party that promised to be ‘Intolerant of intolerance’ isn’t living up to its promises.
When Nigel Farage joined the Brexit Party in January, it seemed clear that he was hoping to leave some of the baggage of his UKIP days behind, not least the constant stream of councillors, candidates and activists that were exposed for posting racist and bigoted material on social media.
The Brexit Party, he claimed, would be “intolerant of all intolerance” and there was a “vast difference” between UKIP and the Brexit Party in terms of personnel – despite a large number of former UKIP candidates and activists defecting with him. But since then we have seen a number of Brexit Party candidates posting Islamophobic and racist material on social media, with many seeming to face no consequences at all.
This week we’ve been looking into the Brexit Party in Staffordshire, and what we’ve found is alarming. Extreme views are being openly promoted at every level of the local party, from the parliamentary candidates down to local activists.
Daniel Rudd, Candidate for Stoke North
Most of the Brexit Party candidates in the upcoming General Election appear to have deleted their old Twitter accounts and created new ones, presumably to avoid the risk of unsavoury old tweets coming to light. Yet despite only having his current account since August, Daniel Rudd, the parliamentary candidate for Stoke North, has already filled his timeline with deeply worrying tweets about migrants, Muslims and the slave trade.
He refers to migrants as “gimme-grunts” who “just take what they can”:
He retweets posts that state that the building of Islamic schools means “we’re fucked”, and refer to Muslims as “Labour’s imported voter base RoP” [Religion of Peace, used sarcastically].
And while he “doesn’t agree with” slavery, he does think that black people should remember that they were “essentially a commodity for sale by their own kind”:
‘Mike’, Stoke-On-Trent activist
It would be bad enough if Rudd were just a solitary bad apple in the Staffordshire Brexit Party, but unfortunately not. Here he thanks ‘Mike’, a local party activist who claims to be a former UKIP member, for his energetic campaigning on behalf of the party:
Mike, who uses the handle @mikelonerider, seems to share Rudd’s hostility to Muslims, saying that “Muslims don’t like anybody” and even calling for ‘limiting Muslims freedom”:
Andrew Garcarz, Staffordshire County Organiser
We can only hope that the Brexit Party was unaware of these tweets from Rudd and Mike, and will now take action. Unfortunately, given that Andrew Garcarz is still in place as the County Organiser for Staffordshire, this seems unlikely. Back in August, Andrew was revealed as having written Facebook posts that called EU citizens “worthless parasites, crooks and criminals”, as well as endorsing the racist “Coudenhove-Kalergi plan” conspiracy theory, a twist on the “white genocide” theory.
Andrew was the UKIP candidate for Birmingham Erdington South in the 2015 General Election, where his wife Wendy Garcarz is now standing for the Brexit Party. Wendy has also been revealed as posting Islamophobia on Facebook.
“Brexit party friends North Staffs.” Facebook group
Adding to the picture, a closed, unofficial Facebook group for Brexit Party supporters in North Staffordshire also contains numerous extreme messages, including more white genocide conspiracy theories and claims that “Islam is taking over”. One user, underneath a post about the conversion of a former chappel into a mosque, writes “Bulldoze it down so they can’t have it. Then fill the ground with landmines to keep the f***ERS out”.
Posts include calls for Jean-Claude Juncker to be “hung upside down and slaughtered like the pig he is”. Another member uses the Confederate flag as his profile picture.
So it seems that despite Farage’s promises in April, neither the Brexit Party’s personnel nor their tolerance of intolerance are much different from that of the UKIP he left behind. Despite their best efforts to present a polished and moderate image, the dangerous and divisive views of their leadership, candidates and activists are inevitably seeping through.