POLITICS

Ukip's Matthew Richardson Says Party 'Should Represent Bigots', Calls NHS A 'Waste Of Money'

24/01/2015 23:28 | Updated 25 January 2015
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The man recruited by Ukip to stop "bad stuff" about the party appearing in the media... has comically fluffed his lines by stating that Nigel Farage's Party should represent 'bigots'.

That's right - "bigots".

The same senior official also claimed the NHS was the "biggest waste of money in the UK". The remarks were made by Matthew Richardson, the party's secretary and a member of its national executive council.

According to The Sunday Times Richardson told a meeting last month: "I've said before, people talk about Ukip being bigots. There are hundreds of thousands of bigots in the United Kingdom and they deserve representation." He also joked about party leader Nigel Farage, saying: "He's a Kent man. Well, sounds like Kent, anyway."

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Richardson added that the Ukip leader would "have to be a moron" to put the party's plan for a turnover tax for businesses in its manifesto. He insisted the comments were "clearly light-hearted harmless banter in the pub" and did "not reflect any seriously held belief".

He added: "I don't recall the conversation taking place but some of the words attributed to me are actually a quote from the late (Tory MP) Eric Forth, which if they were spoken at all would have been on a discussion about him. None of this is reflective of my own views or those of the party and I am sure any reader would recognise the difference between a formal party position and the sort of jag lots of people have with their mates while having a drink."

Meanwhile, footage from 2010 of Richardson attacking the health service at events in the USA were released by Labour. Speaking at the Young Americans Foundation conference in Washington he said: "When I was younger a trillion was an astronomic number. Now when I look at our national deficits, and your national deficits, actually it is an economic number.

"A number I couldn't possible imagine when I was younger is now the amount of money that is owed by my country, and soon more than that by your country, to other countries, paying for wasteful socialist programmes. And of course at the heart of this, the Reichstag bunker of socialism is the National Health Service."

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in the same year he said: "This socialist government wastes money like you can't imagine. They have started doing every wasteful scheme under the sun ... The biggest waste of money of course in the United Kingdom is the NHS, the National Health Service."

The release of the footage signals a more aggressive approach to Ukip from Labour, which faces losing ground to Farage's party in some of its northern heartlands - as shown in the Heywood and Middleton by-election in October where Ed Miliband's party could only manage a narrow victory.

Richardson was reportedly appointed last year to help prevent unfavourable stories about the party making it into the media, but Ukip insisted he was not involved with the press operation.

Labour's Jon Trickett, shadow minister without portfolio, said: "Either Nigel Farage supports this or Mr Richardson cannot stay in post. Nigel Farage cannot simultaneously defend these comments and claim that his party stands for the NHS free at the point of use. The man chosen by Nigel Farage to control Ukip's image has compared the NHS to Hitler's Nazi bunker. This is Ukip's real agenda on the NHS.

"Today Labour is shining a light on Nigel Farage and his party's true views on the future of the NHS. They claim to defend the service we cherish, but they want to dismantle its foundations. Ukip can no longer attempt to fool people. They are a party of Tory people, Tory money and they want to extend the worst Tory policies, which would have horrific effects on working people."

A Ukip spokeswoman played down the significance of Richardson's comments, pointing out he was not an elected representative or party spokesman. She said: "He is a very talented barrister and does his job extremely well. He is not involved with the party's press operation."

Earlier on Saturday, Ukip's communities spokesman defected to the conservative Party. Amjad Bashir, who represents Yorkshire and the Humber, met with David Cameron on Friday and was due to announce his defection on Saturday evening.

However, before the switch was made public, Ukip announced that Bashir had been suspended from the party for “extremely serious” allegations including unanswered financial and employment questions. A senior Tory told the Press Association that the suspension by Ukip was a "desperate attempt" to play down the impact of Bashir's defection.

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