Speaking Sunday to presenter Maajid Nawaz on LBC radio, temporary UKIP leader Nigel Farage has compared the attacks by leadership hopeful Suzanne Evans on Raheem Kassam to the “poisonous” dialogue in American Democrat politics.
Responding to a question about the tumultuous time his UKIP party is presently experiencing, Mr. Farage told the show host: “Lets be frank, we’ve had an absolutely rotten couple of weeks… we get a new leader in Diane James who decides she doesn’t want to do it, and then we have this altercation… and that’s unfortunate.
“Frankly, none of this have done us any good”.
Explaining why he decided to intervene in the leadership election — having remained entirely neutral in the last contest which saw Mrs. James elected, the interim leader remarked that he got involved after hearing : “Suzanne Evans first thing this morning attacking one of the lead runners in this election, calling Raheem Kassam ‘far right’, and talking about the party”.
In a separate interview this morning with Robert Peston Mr. Farage criticised Evans for calling the party “toxic” and said her comments had not been “a very good start” to the leadership race.
LBC presenter Maajid Nawaz moved to dismiss Farage’s criticism, suggesting that the comments were standard practice in American leadership competitions, citing the “squaring off” between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Responding to the notion, Mr. Farage blasted the American-style attack, remarking: “We can see how poisonous has become as a direct result of that kind of behavior… the fact is, Suzanne Evans is talking about the party as if it has some sort of horrible, toxic look to it.
“I just don’t think that’s what the party wants to hear and I don’t’ think attacking another candidate as ‘far right’ is any way to start the UKIP leadership campaign.
“We’ve just been through a fortnight of unpleasant division. I’d much rather people said ‘vote for me because I’m this or that, I can lead, because I’ve got the relevant experience’. As soon as day one of this contest begins and people are attacking each other, that’s not what I want the party to be”.
Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter: Follow @Oliver_Lane or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org