A petition by UK Independence Party (UKIP) members to de-select a Christian candidate for his views opposing same sex marriage has been surpassed in support by another petition which urges freedom of thought and expression within the party.
Alan Craig was selected as a UKIP candidate for the London Assembly (GLA) elections last Friday, but his opponent Richard Hendron, who got just two votes during the process (one his own) responded by resigning and accusing Mr. Craig of homophobia.
This in turn prompted a response from Richard Hilton, a recent Conservative Party member who, along with UKIP’s Deputy Chairman Suzanne Evans, promoted a petition to have Mr. Craig de-selected by the party’s National Executive Committee. Ms. Evans even went so far as to leak insider information to Pink News, telling them: “I’ve written to the Chairman and our National Executive Committee to make my personal views clear: that the views of Alan Craig should not be implicitly condoned by UKIP by making him a GLA candidate.
“Since I wrote, I’ve been informed his candidature is being reviewed, and I’m confident he won’t be the SW London candidate for much longer.”
But their online agitation appears to have backfired, with grassroots UKIP members starting their own petition to allow Mr. Craig to freely express his Christian beliefs while representing the party at an election.
The petition: “To remove UKIP GLA candidate Alan Craig from the approved candidates list” has now attracted 157 signatures after nearly 3 days, whereas the petition “Say NO to political correctness infiltrating UKIP” has 170 supporters after just a day.
Upon losing the selection on Friday night, Mr. Hendron resigned, stating in a letter to the party: “It has become clear to me that UKIP is anything but a libertarian party.”
His solution to the party’s lack of libertarianism? Kick people out and ban them from standing.
The letter concludes: “I have tried my hardest to fight for the party and LGBT issues but I have been met with a barrage of resistance at all levels. UKIP is not really interested in equality, the LGBT group do nothing other than tick a box for the party, they do not push for change in the party or support LGBT activists who are trying to make a change, they even refused my application to join the LGBT group stating that being gay and in UKIP does not automatically qualify you for membership of LGBT in UKIP.”
Mr Hilton has said he refuses to back democratically selected candidates if they do not fall in line with his views:
LGBT UKIP founder @Nathangarbutt on Alan Craig GLA selection 'we will not support bigoted idiots'. https://t.co/8jVS0sBVhe Totally agree
— Richard Hilton (@RichardHilton1) February 7, 2016