Nigel Farage fails to attend Croydon rally as Ukip carnival erupts
Nigel Farage failed to turn up to his own mini street carnival in Croydon as rows broke out in the street over whether Ukip was racist and one of his local candidates described the town as an unsafe dump.
The event was organised after a series of controversies over allegedly racist comments made by some of the party’s European and local election candidates and Farage’s suggestion that people may not want to live on a street with Romanians.
Farage, whose party is predicted to make large gains in the elections, was meant to be addressing the public in a town where black, Asian and Polish candidates are standing for the council. However, the rally descended into a farce as supporters clashed with members of the public and protesters, forcing the Ukip leader to abandon his plans to appear.
The event started to go wrong when two members of a steel band hired to provide a carnival atmosphere said they were uncomfortable with their position and had no idea they would be playing for Ukip.
Marlon Hibbert, 22, whose parents are Jamaican, said he thought Ukip was racist and that he was upset about the booking. “They are something I don’t like the idea of,” he said. “My parents came over here to work. Our country is for everybody, with opportunities for everyone.”
Fellow musician, 16-year-old Kishan Shorter agreed, saying he was not happy with Ukip’s views.
As the band played for a short while, one of the party’s most prominent black activists, Winston McKenzie, a Croydon council candidate, used a megaphone to say he was proud to be a supporter. But he was interrupted by two protesters, who, claiming to be from Romania, accused Ukip of being a Nazi party and held a banner saying “Nigel Farage Racist Scum”. They declined to give their names.
McKenzie was also confronted by resident Anthony St Croix, who demanded to know why a Ukip candidate had talked about sending actor Lenny Henry back to a “black country”.
Farage and Ukip were defended by several candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds, including Rathy Alagaratnam, who is standing in Merton. The ex-Labour activist, who tried to take her former party to a tribunal for racial discrimination, said accusations of racism against Ukip were “an excuse because people do not want to debate the European question”.