UK politician under fire for Hitler praise

Adolf Hitler. Photo / Creative Commons
Adolf Hitler. Photo / Creative Commons

The leader of a right-wing UK party was facing a storm of protest last night after one of his members of parliament was revealed to have coached candidates to emulate Hitler.

Ukip member Bill Etheridge described the Nazi dictator as a 'magnetic and forceful public speaker' who "'achieved a great deal" - and said the candidates should copy the rhetorical style deployed by Hitler at the Nuremberg rallies.

The new disclosure will dismay Ukip leader Nigel Farage as he battles to de-toxify the party's image following a string of rows over extremism.

Mr Etheridge, who recently wrote a book celebrating golliwogs, made his astonishing remarks last weekend while training young Ukip members planning to stand in council or parliamentary elections.

The West Midlands MEP was hired to give a class on public speaking at the Young Independence Conference in Birmingham.

He suggested that the audience should take their oratorical tips from 'a hateful figure who achieved a great deal'.

Mr Etheridge, 44, said: "Look back to the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history. When Hitler gave speeches, and many of the famous ones were at rallies, at the start he walks, back and forth, looked at people - there was a silence, he waited minutes just looking out at people, fixing them with his gaze.

"They were looking back and he would do it for a while. And then they were so desperate for him to start, when he started speaking they were hanging on his every word."

He added: "I'm not saying direct copy - pick up little moments."

When a member of the audience asked Mr Etheridge, who was tasked by his party to deliver the conference, how they should use social media for pro-Ukip campaigning, he warned: "If you think for even a second that what you say can be screwed, twisted and spun, do not allow that video to be posted by people."

Last night Labour MP Mike Gapes described the training session as "unbelievable".

He said: "I thought nothing could surprise me any more, but this just goes to show that Farage has completely failed to clean up his party.

"One of his MEPs training young candidates to speak like Hitler? Simply unbelievable."

During the past year, Ukip has been embarrassed by a series of racist and sexist outbursts by its activists.

One candidate said that the comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a 'black country'.
Look back to the most magnetic and forceful public speaker in history: Hitler

Another compared the family of murdered Stephen Lawrence to apes. And a Ukip councillor suggested that January's floods were linked to the Government's decision to legalise gay marriage.

Mr Etheridge was one of 24 Ukip MEPs elected in May and is planning to stand in Dudley North in the General Election.

He was suspended by the Conservative Party in 2011 after he posed on Facebook with a golliwog.

Shortly after his suspension he wrote the book Britain: A Post-Political Correctness Society - featuring a picture of two of the dolls on its cover.

In it he argued that "the political and social elite have cravenly surrendered to the diktat of the Politically Correct dogma that has crushed free speech, smashed enterprise and reduced Britain to a mere shadow of its former self".

Mr Etheridge's speech at the Birmingham conference was addressed to a 40-strong audience of under 30-year-olds, three-quarters of whom said that they were planning to stand in elections for the party.

After the 'Hitler workshop', other speakers, including Mr Etheridge's fellow Ukip MEP Tim Aker, talked about policy, campaigning and the use of social media.

Last night, Mr Etheridge stressed to The Mail on Sunday that he had also mentioned other public speakers in his tutorial.

At one point he also name-checked the wartime Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and made clear that he thought that both Mussolini and Hitler changed the world in a 'very negative way'.

In a statement, Mr Etheridge said: "I was talking about a whole range of public speakers and the techniques they used. I also mentioned Tony Blair.

"At no point did I endorse Hitler or anybody else. I was merely discussing public speaking and the techniques used down the years.

"Hitler and the Nazis were monsters and I am angry that I am even being asked questions about whether we would wish to be linked with them. Yet another cheap shot to deal with from the media."

Mr Farage is expected to announce in the coming days that he will be standing for the Commons in Thanet South at next year's General Election, after party officials in the constituency let slip this weekend that he is on their shortlist.

The most recent local polls indicate that the Ukip leader - who has said that he wants to fight a contest in his native Kent and previously identified the Thanet seat as his most likely option - would win if he ran.

- Daily Mail

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