UK
02/10/2013 11:31 BST | Updated 02/10/2013 11:45 BST

Ukip Racism Row: Party Brands Lord Heseltine A 'Dinosaur'

Ukip has responded angrily to Lord Heseltine's racism accusation, saying it was time to end the "disgusting slur" against the party.

After the Tory grandee likened Nigel Farage's party to Enoch Powell and Marine Le Pen, it branded him a "dinosaur", and

MEP candidate Amjad Bashir challenged him to a public debate.

Bashir said: “I’m sick to the back teeth now.

"The media keep repeating this appalling accusation, thoughtlessly, without any grounding, without any just cause or reason and frankly it’s abhorrent."

He added on Twitter: "Who is Heseltine to judge what is racist? A totally out of touch man who has led a life of privilege, or myself who experiences racism daily."

The party has been under fire in recent weeks, notably when MEP Godfrey Bloom criticised the giving of aid to "bongo bongo land".

Other controversies included a councillor fending off racism accusations by saying he liked "coloured people" and a press officer referring to a journalist's "ethnic extraction".

Its conference brochure contained only white faces, while Farage was accused of having fascist tendencies as a schoolboy.

Heseltine told the BBC: "You always have these right-wing, racist operations, pandering to the lowest common denominator of politics, and that's what's happening."

But Bashir, who is standing in the European elections in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, said: "Racism is a very real and deeply serious issue. It is not a word, a plaything, you can use to throw in whatever direction you fancy to undermine people, devaluing what is actually a crucially serious issue that must be treated with the utmost gravity."

He claimed the accusations showed how the "media and the political class" were flippant about racism, adding: "It’s an extremely serious accusation and an extremely serious issue. It’s about time the media realised it was time to stop this disgusting slur of racism.”