Nigel Farage has been accused of racism and "sour grapes" after lashing out at constituencies where people "don't speak English" for ruining the electoral system, in the wake of Ukip suffering poor results in the Oldham West by-election.
Following a convincing Labour win in the Greater Manchester constituency, the Ukip leader insisted that an “impeccable” source had evidence that the postal vote for the by-election was “bent”.
Farage repeated the complaints on BBC Radio 4, adding that “ethnic changes” in the country were also contributing to a situation where “the electoral process is now dead”.
Speaking on the Today programme, he said that Ukip would be making a formal complaint.
He said: “I’ve been in 30 by-elections and no result has shocked me quite as much as this one.
“Some very odd things happened yesterday.
“There was a 5% increase in the number of postal votes yesterday.”
He claimed that there were “bundles of postal votes being delivered on behalf of other people”, and compared the process to what happened in Birmingham and Tower Hamlets votes.
Farage added that he believed that “ethnic changes” were also having an effect on results, claiming that people who “can’t speak English” and “haven't even heard of Jeremy Corbyn” were still voting for Labour.
Nigel Farage claimed that the Oldham result was 'bent'
He said: "There are some really quite big ethnic changes now in the way people are voting. They can't speak English, they have never heard of Ukip or the Conservative Party, they haven't even heard of Jeremy Corbyn.
"I'm commenting on the state of modern Britain, post mass immigration. It means effectively that in some of these seats where people don't speak English and they sign up to postal votes, effectively the electoral process is now dead."
The source told them: "I understand that there was one tweet that may have overstepped the mark, I think some wrong information was given.
"But there's no doubt – I've never seen in 25 years of being involved in politics where you get over 15 per cent of the total votes run in on the last day. That is very weird.”
They added questions about postal votes have been “going on for a long time”.
They said: "Nobody is suggesting there's been fraud here. We are not formally suggesting there has been any fraud, Labour has been very efficient.
"We deal with it, but we feel there should be reform and there have been plenty of cases. It's just odd.”
Reaction to Farage's comments prompted calls of "sour grapes" from Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who added that if he had evidence to back up his claims, he should take it to the police.
His views were echoed online...
While many skewered him for his comments about “ethnic changes” and non-English speakers:
Ukip’s deputy chairman, Suzanne Evans, wrote on Facebook in warning that they should avoid looking like bad losers and that even without postal votes, the party would have lost in Oldham.
She said: “As far as the postal vote issue is concerned, the harsh reality is that even without block postal voting we would still have lost in Oldham.
“But we made our manifesto commitment to scrapping the current postal voting system for good reason. It’s clearly open to widespread abuse. Judge Richard Mawrey, who sits in judgement on election fraud cases has pointed out that while postal voting has failed to boost turnout, it has made Britain’s electoral system vulnerable to fraud on ‘an industrial scale’. And the Electoral Commission highlighted Oldham as an area of particular concern as recently as the beginning of last year.
“But, there are far more non-voters in Oldham than there are postal voters. These are the people we must reach, those who are indifferent to or alienated from politics; those who don’t trust or who don’t see the relevance of our politicians.
“We’ve made huge gains here already, as we have with appealing more to women voters, so let’s keep going on this track; finish the job; and focus on what we can do to win next time, rather than risk just sounding like bad losers.
Labour’s Jim McMahon retained the seat for the party with a majority of more than 10,000 votes in yesterday’s by-election.
McMahon registered 17,209 votes, a vote share of 62 percent, up 7 percent from the general election. Ukip's John Bickley received 6,487 votes, Conservative James Daly received 2,596, while Jane Brophy of the Liberal Democrat registered 1,024. Sir Oink A-Lot of the Monster Raving Looney Party went home with 141 votes.
On Farage's claim of voting corruption, McMahon said: "There is nothing wrong with people making a democratic decision not to support Ukip."