A leading Ukip official has apologised after retweeting a cartoon which claimed a vote for Labour would lead to “a jihadi for a neighbour”.
John Bickley, the party’s immigration spokesman and treasurer, retweeted the image last night, which featured a lorry full of people being driven by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The slogan – “If you want a jihadi for a neighbour, vote Labour” – is paraphrase of Far Right campaigning literature produced in the 1960s, particularly associated with the seat of Smethwick in the 1964 General Election.
The campaign in that seat saw Tory-supporting racists use the phrase “If you want a n***er for a neighbour, vote Labour”.
Bickley deleted his retweet after it was labeled “disgusting” and “repellent” by other users of the social media network.
In a statement to Huff Post UK, Bickley said: “Yesterday I retweeted a cartoon about the potential consequences of Labour’s support for uncontrolled immigration without realising it relied on a rhyme that had been used in an election in 1964 in racially abusive context.
“I have since deleted the retweet and apologise for any offence caused.”
Labour MP David Lammy was one of those to draw a comparison between the cartoon and the notorious Smethwick campaign.
The criticism of Bickley – who came within 618 votes for winning the Heywood and Middleton by-election in 2014 – comes as the battle for Stoke Central enters the final 10 days of campaigning.
Ukip’s leader Paul Nuttall is standing for the party in the by-election, triggered by the resignation of sitting Labour MP Tristram Hunt from the Commons.
Nuttall’s eligibility to stand in the seat was called into question after it emerged he had yet to spend the night in the Stoke house he claimed was his residence – a potential breach of electoral rules.
Staffordshire Police confirmed earlier this month it was investigating whether any criminal act had taken place.
Nuttall has since moved out of the property, with Ukip claiming people have tried to break into the property and hate mail has been pushed through the letterbox.