The UKIP candidate for South Northants has quit over ‘racist’ comments made by the party’s only Scottish MEP.
Tim Wilson was set to stand for the South Northants seat but he resigned last night after MEP David Coburn compared Scottish government minister Humza Yousaf to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza.
I don’t think this is a joke. I think this is something very serious”Tim Wilson
Mr Coburn apologised but UKIP leader Nigel Farage will not be taking any action against him.
Mr Wilson told BBC Scotland he was appalled by Mr Coburn’s comments about Mr Yousaf and frustrated by the inaction of the party’s leadership on the issue.
He said Mr Coburn had produced ‘an Islamaphobic insult and that’s simply not acceptable’.
Mr Wilson said: “I think, frankly, that if you are in a position of power you have to be able to control what ideas emerge from your head and how they get to your mouth and, in fact, you shouldn’t have those ideas in the first place.
“But the real issue is that when Mr Farage was asked what he thought about this he dismissed this as a joke.
“I don’t think this is a joke. I think this is something very serious. It may not be that this man intended to cause offence but we aren’t interested in what his intentions are. We are interested in the effect what he says has on other people and the effect is catastrophic, it’s appalling and I’ve resigned.”
In his resignation letter, Mr Wilson said he had been ‘systematically gagged by the party whip’ and forbidden to speak about Islam favourably.
A spokesman for UKIP said Mr Wilson failed to put more emphasis on local issues in his campaign.
He said: “Whilst we had initially been optimistic about Tim Wilson’s abilities as a candidate, it became obvious in recent weeks that he was out of his depth in representing our party in the way we would expect.
“Mr Wilson had clearly misunderstood the expectations that UKIP place on all of its candidates. Principal amongst those is focusing on issues that are relevant to local voters.
“UKIP put huge emphasis on local issues and Mr Wilson was unwilling to follow UKIP guidelines in this respect.”