A UKIP candidate called Islam a “cult of evil” when he was commenting on reports that members of the religion had “infiltrated” the Labour Party. Steve Latham, who is running in West Bromwich East, is now to be investigated by UKIP high command over the comments.
Latham was responding to a 2010 story quoting the Labour MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, who had expressed concerns about his local party in Tower Hamlets.
At the time Fitzpatrick had told the Sunday Telegraph that Muslims were: “Acting almost as an entryist organisation, placing people within the political parties, recruiting members to those political parties, trying to get individuals selected and elected so they can exercise political influence and power, whether it’s at local government level or national level.”
Mr Latham said: “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.”
UKIP have suffered a number of allegations of un-PC comments and have been quick to deal with those responsible. In this case the nominations for the election are all in and they cannot stop Latham running as a UKIP candidate.
He is running against Tom Watson, the former Labour frontbencher who has become famous for attacking Rupert Murdoch and News International. Watson has a majority of 6,696 although UKIP have experienced a surge in the midlands.
Latham told the Express and Star Newspaper: “I wouldn’t have meant it about Islam itself. It would have been about the people causing problems. It’s just the extremists. And there are extremists in all faiths. All I can do is apologise. I meant no disrespect.”
His CV for West Bromwich East explains his motivation for running in the general election. He said: “I’m a down to earth working class man who isn’t afraid to speak his mind and stand up for others… I am a proud Englishman and not ashamed of being patriotic. I love my country, its history, its culture and its values.” On Twitter he uses a picture of himself with a poppy (above).
Since the Sunday Telegraph story was first published in 2010 there have been widespread allegations of malpractice by Muslim groups in Tower Hamlets. In the end they split away from Labour and founded their own political group led by Mayor Lutfur Rahman.
The last election in Tower Hamlets is the subject of court action, as a number of residents claim there was widespread electoral fraud.