As if UKIP’s new leader Paul Nuttall, the “Bad Bootle Meff”, did not have enough on his plate right now, today has brought another controversy as his immigration spokesman has demonstrated that one subject where he either knows very little, or simply doesn’t give a damn, is, er, immigration. John Bickley, who managed to be the “local candidate” in no less than three different constituencies recently, is the spokesman in question.
Bickley has been using his Twitter feed to promote all manner of Fake News sympathetic to the Kippers’ cause: sites like Breitbart, Westmonster and the Express feature prominently. So does one Tweeter who has referred to refugees from predominantly Muslim countries as “savages”, and who recently Tweeted a virulently racist Labour-bashing Tweet with an instantly recognisable 1960s throwback theme.
The Tweet, under the heading “The Labour Party are now the party of immigrants & Muslims [note that, in true Nazi homage, Muslims are not to be referred to as mere “immigrants”]. Labour hate the British people, the working class & despise patriotism” then carries a cartoon which tells “IF YOU WANT A JIHADI FOR A NEIGHBOUR VOTE LABOUR”, and suggests Jeremy Corbyn is personally bringing “jihadis” to the UK.
John Bickley - caught in the act
This is a direct lift of the refrain from the campaign of Tory candidate Peter Griffiths, who won Smethwick from Labour in 1964 with sentiments such as “If you want a n***** for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour”. Some Tories claimed the line was not their work, but Griffiths was not one of them, commenting “I should think that is a manifestation of popular feeling. I would not condemn anyone who said that”.
The Smethwick campaign is one of those seminal moments in electoral history that is universally known, even among those who were born after the event. So what did the Bad Bootle Meff have to say about the behaviour of his immigration spokesman and his tendency to Retweet racists? You’ll love this: Nuttall claimed that Bickley didn’t really know what the slogan on the cartoon really meant. Yeah, right.
What a UKIP spokesman calls acceptable
As has been reported, “UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has supported his immigration spokesperson after he retweeted a controversial slogan said to be racist … John Bickley retweeted a cartoon which contained the slogan: ‘If you want a jihadi for a neighbour - vote Labour’ … It dates back to 1964 when the election of campaign of Conservative Peter Griffiths featured the slogan: ‘If you want a n***** for a neighbour, vote Labour’”.
There was more. “Nuttall said that Bickley, who is also UKIP's treasurer, did not know about the background of the slogan and has now apologised … The UKIP leader said: ‘He's got my support, absolutely, he's apologised for it. It wasn't clever and John's apologised and he's taken it down … He's not a politics anorak, John, and I don't think he understood the history of that slogan’”. One does not need to be a politics anorak.
Also, Bickley’s Twitter feed does not contain that alleged apology - that was where the offending Retweet occurred, and so that is where the apology should appear.
The impression is given that Bickley has been indulging in a little casual “it’s not quite racism” and this time he got caught. This is the ugly reality of Nuttall and his pals.