The Express and Star reports that a UKIP candidate who claimed on Facebook that Islam was an “evil cult” and that European integration was a form of “genocide” has been banned from standing for the party in the Black Country.
Steve Latham stood for Parliament in West Bromwich East in the General Election earlier this year when he made the first of his controversial remarks by writing on Facebook, “so the Muslims have infiltrated the Labour party. What a surprise. Who would have guessed such a thing was possible? The Labour Party of Diane Abbott and Harriet Harman infiltrated by the evil cult of Islam. Wow.”
Despite his comments, he was selected to stand as a UKIP candidate for the Sandwell Council ward of Newton in a by-election. It later emerged that he had posted a passage from a far right blog on his Facebook page, stating “European integration amounts to genocide”.
At the time the Facebook post was discovered, Mr Latham claimed not to remember where it had come from. However, according to leaked minutes from a Sandwell UKIP branch meeting, the party’s national chairman Steve Crowther asked the party to bar Latham from standing in any elections again. The minutes reveal that UKIP also lost a “major local donor” as a result.
The minutes reveal how Mr Crowther had informed Mr Latham that following a second negative national newspaper spread about his Facebook comments his campaign was “dead in the water” from that point on and party support had been withdrawn.
The minutes read: “For the second time in four months he managed to get the branch some bad publicity in the national and local press over a Facebook post about mixed race. There were several complaints from both inside and outside of the branch and a major local donor has withdrawn funding because of this. SL is not going to be allowed to stand in any elections again representing UKIP.”
The comments also led to Mr Latham being dropped from driving a coach on National Express routes, where he was contracted to the company by a third party.
Mr Latham, who used to run The Joker and Scott Arms pubs in Great Barr, said: “I still support UKIP. I believe in their vision. But a couple of people in the Sandwell branch took it upon themselves to stop me standing as a candidate. They are trying to stop debate.”
Dean Perks, UKIP constituency manager, said: “Steve Latham is a decent guy. We are not a party that stifles free speech. But if he was to put himself forward for election again he would not pass our vetting process at the moment to become a candidate.”