Ukip under fire for asking far-right Swede to Scotland

UKIP in Scotland has been criticised after it gave a platform to an MEP from a far-right party formed by white supremacists.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, left, and MEP Kristina Winberg of the Sweden Democrats                                                                                           Photograph: Getty

A high-ranking politician from the Sweden Democrats, whose members used to attend meetings in Nazi-style uniforms, addressed a Ukip a meeting in Edinburgh recently.

SNP MSP Christian Allard described Ukip as an “embarrassment” to the No campaign. Ukip, although campaigning for the union, is not part of Better Together.

The party, which is opposed to mass immigration and the European Union, made its breakthrough in Scotland recently by getting an MEP elected.

It will make a major contribution to the independence referendum this coming Friday when leader Nigel Farage fronts a pro-Union rally.

The event has triggered security fears, as previous Farage visits have attracted hundreds of protestors.

Figures in Better Together, the official No campaign, are also said to be angered by the event, as it threatens to tarnish the image of the mainstream effort to keep Scotland in the Union.

The Sunday Herald can now reveal Ukip Scotland’s association with far-right European politics. In June, it emerged Ukip was part of a wider European Parliament group that included what one Liberal Democrat source described as the “dregs” of the far right.

The Europe of Freedom and Democracy group includes the Sweden Democrats, founded in 1988 by racists and a former member of the Waffen SS.

It was only in 1995 that the party banned its members from wearing Nazi dress to meetings.

According to a Ukip Scotland circular to party members, a Sweden Democrats MEP was the special guest at a recent meeting in the capital.

He wrote: “We were also pleased to have Kristina Winberg MEP as guest speaker.”

In June, Winberg and another party MEP released a statement in an attempt to distance themselves from their party’s fascist past.

“We acknowledge and learn from our [the party’s] mistakes,” they said.

“The worst of these mistakes was that the party didn’t distance itself from radical youths with subcultural looks and that these were allowed to participate in some of the party demonstrations.”

However, last year a leading Sweden Democrats politician had to resign after she posted “I hope they starve to death” in response to an article about teenage asylum-seekers who had begun a hunger strike.

The SNP’s Allard said yesterday: “This is just another example of the type of party Ukip is – which is exactly why their support is such an embarrassment to the No campaign in the referendum.

“While Yes is the biggest grass-roots political campaign in Scotland’s history, the No campaign counts on the support of the likes of Ukip. And with parties like Ukip urging a No vote, it’s absolutely no surprise that more and more people are switching from No to Yes as we get closer to polling day.”

Colin Fox, co-convener of the Scottish Socialist party, said: “It is preposterous to see who Farage and his fellow right-wingers line up with. They are completely out of touch with the social democratic mainstream in Scotland. It is also another reminder of how embarrassing Farage’s trip to Glasgow is for Better Together.”

A Ukip spokesman said: “The Sweden Democrats as a party never had a policy of white supremacy or of wearing uniforms. The party has changed dramatically in the last 10 years with a new leader, a new political platform which expelled any extremists and acknowledges past mistakes.

“The very amiable Kristina Winberg is a member of a moderate patriotic party which is polling at 15% in Sweden.”

 

From The Herald Scotland . Report by Paul Hutcheon, Investigations Editor . 07.09.2014

 

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