Nigel Farage: establishment and media are out to get us
Ukip leader makes warning as he defends councillor whose comments on immigration were, he says, ‘taken out of context’.
Nigel Farage has warned Ukip activists to be extra vigilant about any attempts to paint them in a nasty light after a video emerged showing councillor Victoria Ayling saying she would like to “send the lot back”.
The Ukip leader condemned the report, first published in the Mail on Sunday, saying that Ayling’s words on immigration appeared to have been “deliberately distorted and taken out of context”.
She has said the remarks refer just to illegal immigrants, and claims she is the victim of a setup by her ex-husband.
In an email to party members, Farage urged supporters to remember that it is “not always clear who we can trust” and reminded them that there would be many opportunists trying to undermine the party.
A Ukip spokesman said the email was sent in an effort to keep up spirits and show solidarity with Ayling, who was a Tory councillor when the video was recorded but later defected to Ukip.
“I am sure many of you are aware of the attack by the Mail on Sunday on a Ukip councillor this weekend,” Farage wrote. “I firstly want to reassure you that I believe this attack on Victoria Ayling to be unwarranted, and have the utmost sympathy with her.
“Her words on immigration, it would appear, were deliberately distorted and taken out of context in order to paint a very nasty picture. She has personally assured me that this is the case and I have no reason to doubt her. As a result I believe it is fair to say she is the victim of an extremely unpleasant political attack.
“This indicates very clearly to me the sort of tactics our political opponents will use in the runup to the European elections next year. Because they cannot beat us on policy, they will be increasingly inclined to play the man, not the ball.”
His criticism is directed at the Mail on Sunday, which first reported Ayling’s comments, but also more widely at the “establishment, via the media”. It comes after Ukip stepped up its vetting of potential candidates for next year’s European elections after a string of embarrassing comments by MEPs and party candidates in the May local elections.
“As a party we are subject to increasing levels of scrutiny, which demonstrates just how powerful a force we are in UK politics. But unlike the other parties, the establishment, via the media, is focused on trying to find ways of discrediting us rather than discuss the real political issues upon which we are so strong.
“However, we must seek to stay positive. We are now entering one of the most important fights the party has ever faced and I believe we have every reason to be confident of future success in changing the face of British politics.”
Ayling, who is a Ukip county councillor in Lincolnshire, recorded the video with her then-husband five years ago when she was a member of the Conservative party. A clip from the video posted on the Mail on Sunday’s website shows her trying to explain her stance on immigration.
During two outtakes, when the camera is still running but she is speaking casually to her husband, she talks about wanting to send immigrants back in general terms.
At one point she says: “We must basically [re]patriate those that shouldn’t be here. That’s not quite policy yet. Maybe I should soften it a bit … OK, send them back.” She also says: “OK, I just want to send the lot back, but I can’t say that.”
In the message she was recording that was intended for a wider audience, Ayling said immigration had to be controlled, that a points system should be introduced and that immigrants should be encouraged to speak English.
Ayling insisted she was not in favour of the mass deportation of immigrants.
“During the process of making this video I struggled to find the right words to express the views I held which were that we needed a sensible immigration policy and must not be afraid to deport those who come here illegally or who fail the asylum process,” she said.
“It is often the case in finding the correct words to use that one takes the views from both sides of the argument and balances them out to find a sensible position. This is what I was doing. At no point in my life have I ever thought that all immigration was bad and all immigrants in the UK should be deported.”