Ukip carnival in Croydon descends into chaos – and a Farage no show – as party continues to fight racism accusations
Nigel Farage fails to turn up to his own party - just two days before European elections
A “carnival” staged by Ukip in Croydon this afternoon descended into chaos after clashes between protesters and party supporters - leading Nigel Farage to decide against turning up at all.
The event had included a steel band and was party sources initially said it would be a “celebration of the ethnically diverse backgrounds” of the party’s candidates in the south London borough.
But things quickly got out of hand after the band, Endurance Steel, walked out amid reports that they had not been told they would be playing for Ukip.
And after arguments broke out between the party's candidates and demonstrators waving placards calling Nigel Farage “racist scum”, the former boxer and prospective MEP Winston McKenzie said his the leader had decided against attending due to “security concerns”.
The so-called street party was marked throughout by peaceful but noisy clashes among scrums of people outside the Whitgift shopping centre, watched over by police and surrounded by a large pack of reporters awaiting Mr Farage's arrival.Ukip brought an electronic advertising van to act as a centrepiece for the event, which drew around 100 suporters. But the event quickly attracted ridicule on Twitter, commenting under the hashtag #ukipcarnival.
Mr McKenzie addressed the crowd with a megaphone, saying: “I want to thank all of the patriotic people in this country who are fed up, let down by the situation.
“I'm sick to death of hearing the same rhetoric come from the same stale political parties.
“It's time people woke up and realised this country is being disenfranchised.”
The rally broke up shortly after it was announced that Mr Farage would not be coming, and one supporter said he was disappointed not to be able to meet the leader.
The eventful party came after the Ukip leader was branded “a racist” by Labour MP David Lammy for comments he made about living next-door to Romanians.
David Cameron said Ukip had “condemned themselves during this campaign with a succession of pretty unpleasant remarks”, and described Mr Farage’s answers during a car-crash LBC interview on Friday as “appalling”.
Tommy Tomescu, a Romanian dentist who is standing in the European elections on Thursday as president of the Europeans Party, called for the Ukip leader to be prosecuted for incitement to racial hatred.
He told the BBC’s Daily Politics programme: “We demand the Crown Prosecution to go and analyse the case against Nigel Farage for incitement to hate.
“There are attacks which have happened against Romanians, Poles, Bulgarians, Slovakians and other eastern Europeans which have coincided with the increasing rhetoric and campaign of hate portrayed by the Ukip leader and sometimes by Conservatives who have joined him, or Labour, which apologises for the fact that they allowed in so many eastern Europeans.
Watch: The steel band and 'street party' in Croydon today
“I think [Mr Farage] should be prosecuted, clearly. He doesn't have to be above the law, just because the other parties are afraid that they will lose votes.”
Yesterday an “open letter” from Mr Farage appeared as a full-page advert in the Daily Telegraph, in which he insisted that Ukip is “not a racist party”, before going on to quote a series of crime figures about Romanians.
But in a Newsnight interview last night, Mr Farage admitted that it had been wrong to say Romanian gangs were responsible for 7 per cent of all crime in the EU.
“It was simplified,” he said of the figure. “It was criminal networks, not crime.”
He also said he regretted using the words “you know what the difference is” at LBC radio when asked about the distinction between Germans or Romanians living next door.
“That gave people the impression that I was saying, 'A nod a wink, we don't really like Romanians'. I regret doing that but I do absolutely insist we must have a proper debate about this,” he said.
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