Carpetbaggers, Islamophobes and fringe politics: we take a look at the Brexit Party candidates in Barnsley.
Tomorrow Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party arrive in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, as they continue their flagging and crisis-stricken campaign.
We take a look at the candidates set to be sharing a stage with Farage, from a Crimestoppers UK board member whose own company was slapped with a conviction, to a known Islamophobe, to a councillor from an oddball political party that appears to have formed an alliance of sorts with the Brexit Party.
Jim Ferguson (AKA James Ferguson Hannah), Barnsley East
Initially announced as candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Jim Ferguson has been shuttled across to contest Barnsley East, despite having boasted in September that “all [Brexiteers] are local to the areas we are standing in”.
Ferguson is far from the only Brexit Party candidate to be parachuted into a constituency. For example, the nomination papers of Stephen Cavell, who describes himself as a “senior private equity executive” and is also due to address the Brexit Party event tomorrow, state that his home address is in the constituency of Chelsea and Fulham, London, some 180 miles away from Wentworth and Dearne, South Yorkshire, where he is standing.
However, Ferguson appears to be a particularly shameless carpetbagger. Just two months ago he was describing himself as a “great big Scottish highlander” who “love[d] being Scots”, but recently proclaimed himself “a Yorkshire man by heart” on Twitter.
Most ironic, however, is that Ferguson sits on the advisory board of anti-crime charity Crimestoppers UK as its Scotland Regional Representative. However, in 2014 Ferguson, who was director of the security firm Castle Security Group Northern Ltd, plead guilty on behalf of the company to placing unlicensed security guards in licensable security roles. The company received a fine for these activities.
John Booker, Penistone and Stocksbridge
Booker, a former UKIP councillor, was outed in August by the Twitter account @MatesJacob for having written a long post on social media claiming that the US was “cutting its own throat” by “not fighting back” against the spread of Islam. Booker had also liked a Facebook comment alleging that Muslims had a plan to “takeover” the world, another seeming to call for violent action against Islam/Muslims, and another stating complaining that Magid Magid, former Mayor of Sheffield, had Somalian heritage.
Despite the revelations being picked up by the press months before nominations closed, Farage ignored calls to sack Booker, making him just one of a shamefully long list of candidates the Brexit Party is yet to disavow.
Victoria Felton, Barnsley Central
This year Victoria Felton was elected as a Barnsley councillor for the oddball Democrats & Veterans (D&V) party. Her husband, former UKIP candidate Gavin Felton, is D&V chairman.
D&V is led by John Rees-Evans, a former UKIP leadership candidate best known for his extraordinary claim that a “homosexual donkey” tried to rape his horse, and for a profile in VICE magazine in which the ex-soldier detailed the fortified underground bunker he had built in Bulgaria. VICE also reported that Rees-Evans took a gun to a branch of IKEA, in case terrorists attacked the shop (Rees-Evans has since denied that he had taken his gun for that reason).
As others have pointed out, the party’s use of a donkey as its logo is perhaps unwise, given Rees-Evans’ history. The party also claimed that the association of its initials with “diarrhoea and vomiting” was deliberate, as politics was “making them that sick”.
There is, however, a more troubling side to D&V. Rees-Evans was slammed by his colleagues for suggesting, during his 2017 UKIP leadership run, that dual nationals could be paid up to £9,000 to leave the UK. The below passage from D&V’s manifesto makes reference to the discredited conspiracy theory of “no-go zones”:
Political correctness and moral cowardice on the part of our government has been responsible for the creation of ‘no-go areas’ throughout Britain, with the police being told by their superiors to avoid certain areas of the capital when in uniform, for fear of their lives […] Our police are required to waste much of their time on diversity training and pointless bureaucracy, when they should be focussed on preventing and detecting crime, and protecting people and property.
The manifesto goes on to say of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM):
Laws that have been on our statute books for 30 years and which protect innocent young girls from cruel mutilation by those entering our country with no desire to respect our laws, customs and culture, are not being enforced […] The reason for this neglect is clear: FGM is the preserve of ethnic minorities and the government fears provoking ‘racial tensions’.
There are several controversies surrounding the party. A candidate for D&V in the local elections claimed he would “apply for the job as executioner” if Donald Trump began killing immigrants. In October of this year ExaminerLive reported that a row involving D&V councillor James Dalton could cost Kirklees taxpayers as much as £60k, due to a judicial review into the handling of complaints against his offensive tweets.
In light of this, it is somewhat concerning to see claims of an alliance between Farage’s party and D&V: