Tuesday, 10 December 2013

UKIP councillor "racist" smear by Daily Mail

On Saturday the Tory-supporting Daily Mail published a smear against UKIP Councillor Victoria Ayling, accusing her of making an "astonishing racist rant" in a 2008 campaign video given to them by her bitter ex-husband.

Cllr Ayling publicly resigned at the Conservative Party conference earlier this year telling David Cameron to his face how disappointed she was with him. The disappointment at Cameron's weakness - even 5 years ago - is obvious from the 2 minute extract of the 20 minute video that the Daily Mail have published.

By careful editing the Daily Mail has managed to remove the context from the video to enable them to make the accusations of racism. The "astonishing racist rant" was Cllr Ayling saying that all illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers - people with no legal right to be in the country - should be repatriated.

As well as smearing Cllr Ayling, the Daily Mail is trying to portray her as a "close ally" of Nigel Farage. They point out she has a picture of herself standing next to him, that she spoke on stage at conference, that she was invited to a photoshoot in London by him and claim that he fast-tracked her as a council candidate.

Nigel Farage has his picture taking with hundreds of people at conferences because he's extremely popular not just with members but with ordinary people. Having a photo of yourself with him doesn't make you a "close ally".

A great many ordinary members speak at conference and I had a 2 minute cameo appearance at one conference trying to convince members not to vote to send Nigel Farage on a "tour de force" of Scotland to promote the union (the vote passed and he ended up having to have a police escort out of a pub in Edinburgh but hey, you can't win them all). Speaking at Conference doesn't make you a "close ally".

Every UKIP councillor was invited to London to take part in a photoshoot as part of the party's anniversary celebrations. I got the invite as well. It wasn't a personal invite from Nigel Farage, it was arranged by the conference organisers and the press office. Being one of hundreds of councillors invited to a photoshoot doesn't make you a "close ally".

Nigel Farage is leading the fastest-growing political party in the UK - a party with over 30,000 members - as well as a group of 35 MEPs in the EU Parliament. The idea that he has the time or inclination to personally intervene in the selection of a candidate for a county council election when the party was coordinating the largest local election campaign in its history is frankly ridiculous.

We can expect more of these attacks from Tory and Labour supporting newspapers as the EU elections get closer and certainly when the 2015 general election campaign starts. The smear has backfired on the Daily Mail judging by their readers' comments which are overwhelmingly in favour of Cllr Ayling's comments and critical of the newspaper for attacking her.