Nigel Farage defends ‘disgusting old poofters’ former UKIP candidate

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UKIP leader Nigel Farage has defended a former parliamentary candidate who referred to gay people as “fucking disgusting old poofters”, saying “a lot of people from that background” use such language.

Kerry Smith, who resigned from UKIP as a prospective parliamentary candidate for calling gay people “poofters”, and a Chinese woman a “Chinky bird”, later said his comments were no worse than the language in the BBC comedy series Only Fools and Horses.

Mr Smith stepped down as a candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock earlier this week after the Mail on Sunday reported leaked phone calls in which he referred to gay people as “poofters” and joked about the party’s LGBT membership group.

Speaking on his weekly LBC phone in with Nick Ferrari, Mr Farage said: “Yes he was loutish in what he said, and is not fit to be a parliamentary candidate. But I don’t think there was anything malicious or evil about what he was trying to do.

“I haven’t heard of any other cases of [homophobia or racism in UKIP] in a very long time.”

He went on to attempt to justify the comments by Smith, citing his council estate background, and suggesting that a lot of people “from that background” use such slurs.

“Kerry Smith is a rough diamond. He’s a council house boy from the East End of London, left school early, and talks and speaks in a way a lot of people from that background do. We can pretend if you like… If you and your mates are going out for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?”

When asked, Mr Farage said he had never used the word “Chinky”, but that “a lot of people would.”

“I feel a bit sorry for Kerry Smith because he’s a genuine fellow, I think even the ‘poofter’ comment.. the next sentence he was saying how good another candidate was and the fact he was gay would be an asset to the party. I think he’s had a tough time, however he’s not suitable to be a parliamentary candidate.

“I think we are very snobbish in London about condemning people, perhaps for the colloquial language we use, particularly if it’s not meant with really unpleasant intent… I don’t think there was any malice in what he said.”

“We are back to the same man who was a town councillor for 20 years.”

LBC continued after the phone in with a Q&A which asking listeners their thoughts on the controversy.