August 28 2014 Latest news:
Alistair Kleebauer, News Editor
Monday, March 3, 2014
The UKIP activist who mocked Ilford residents by claiming “you won’t understand what they’re saying” is a “young, inconsequential member that had too much to drink,” according to the party’s Redbridge chairman.
Sean Howlett, 21, has brought unwanted attention on the party after an undercover sting in a national newspaper exposed him slating Ilford.
At a reception marking the end of the party’s spring conference, Mr Howlett claimed residents’ accents made it hard to hold a conversation, the Sunday Mirror reported.
Mr Howlett said: “You won’t understand what they’re saying.”
Today, Michael McGough, the chairman of UKIP Redbridge and Waltham Forest, said the comments were “absolutely appalling”.
Mr McGough said: “He’s a young inconsequential member that had too much to drink. It’s people trying to big themselves up. I think what he said was absolutely appalling. I have no truck with it whatsoever.”
Mr McGough played down Mr Howlett’s importance within the party, saying “he’s a member from Hertfordshire. He doesn’t have an official role, he’s not a branch chairman”.
Mr Howlett, who invited a female undercover reporter on board an 80ft motor cruiser docked at Torquay Marina for the reception, also reportedly said Essex had “a lot of Arabs” and “a lot of Afghans”.
When he was told many could be refugees, he said: “Depends what you mean by a refugee.”
The party is looking to make electoral gains in Redbridge, with Hainault councillor Edward Griffin recently defecting from the Conservatives to join UKIP.
Regarding the impact the comments will have on voters in Redbridge, the borough chairman said: “[The reaction] is either going to be neutral or do us harm, which I’m unhappy with.
“It’s not representative of our party view in Ilford.”
He also did not know whether Mr Howlett will be disciplined by the party.
Mr McGough said: “If no official action is taken I’m sure people will have strong words with him.
“And I’m sure they won’t offer him a drink.”
Cllr Wes Streeting (Lab, Chadwell), Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Ilford North, condemned the comments yesterday and said UKIP leader Nigel Farage should visit Ilford.
Cllr Streeting said: “These comments reflect the true face of UKIP.”