UKIP branch condemned for adding swastika to EU flag on social media

Reuters/Toby Melville
The Newport branch of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has come under fierce criticism for posting an image of the EU flag decorated with a swastika on its Facebook page.

The picture, posted on February 18, depicts the flag of the European Union combined with the symbol widely associated with the Nazis. This is superimposed on a map of Western Europe, intended to replicate the opening credits sequence of TV classic ‘Dad’s Army’.

In place of arrows originally implying the German advance in WWII are Britain’s three main parties. A UKIP banner proudly proclaims the defense of England’s shores.

The image has been described as “abhorrent” and “disgusting” by MPs and local candidates.

The UKIP candidate for Newport East, Donald Grewar, was suspended two weeks ago after his links to the far right English Defence League (EDL) and British National Party (BNP) were revealed.

The picture was posted on the official UKIP Facebook group for the regional branch, which describes itself as “giving you all the updates on our candidates standing for Newport East and Newport West.”

Jess Morden, Labour MP for Newport East, urged UKIP to take action against its radical-right members.

For UKIP to use a Nazi symbol on a graphic is simply abhorrent. Just a fortnight ago, the local UKIP candidate was removed following publication in the media of his support for the far right BNP and EDL. It is clear that a dangerous extremist bloc within UKIP are becoming more prominent. UKIP need to take action.”

The former chairman of the branch was also suspended after he revealed the allegations against Grewar.

Paul Halliday, Liberal Democrat candidate for Newport East, said: “To somehow equate the other parties with Nazism and to say that Europe is Nazism is naive, distasteful and downright disgusting.

“One of the great things about the EU is the peace it has brought to Europe for so long. UKIP are using scare tactics and I think they have some serious questions to answer,” he added.

Green Party candidate David Mclean also said people were fed up with hearing “tabloid” politics.

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The issue here is the growing divisive nature of politics that is becoming increasingly tabloid in nature and which people are getting genuinely fed up of,” he said.

“The UK’s relationship with the EU is certainly something that needs to be debated, and the Green Party is well up for that debate, but it needs to be done in a mature way and without relying on inappropriate or inaccurate language and references.

The Conservative candidate, Natasha Asghar, said it was important that Newport and the surrounding area are not influenced by extremist views.

“I’m doing all I can to promote community cohesion and sticking a swastika up isn’t helping anybody. I think it's highly insensitive and disgraceful of UKIP to do such a thing,” she said.

A UKIP spokesman said the image was posted in poor taste, but criticized the response from local parties, particularly Labour.

“The posting on the Newport East Facebook page may be in bad taste. Illustrating anything by use of a swastika is so. However the confected outrage of the local Labour Party is even more over the top. It must have passed their notice that the branch sees itself as fighting totalitarianism, not supporting it.”

The image has now been removed from the Facebook page.