Controversial Ukip leader to speak at Wigan public meeting
The controversial leader of Ukip is coming to Wigan.
Far-right politician Gerard Batten is the guest of the borough’s branch of the Eurosceptic party for an event at the Springfield Hotel on Tuesday.
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Other speakers include Ukip national executive member Katie Fanning, who has been the subject of a Hope Not Hate expose after making comments about “white genocide”.
Wigan political activist Nathan Ryding, who is now also a member of the party’s national executive committee and chairs the Young Independence group, will also be speaking to what is likely to be a packed room.
Ukip Wigan announced the night on Facebook as a “very special event” with “exceptional guest speakers” and says the party will outline its policies before taking questions from the audience.
However, the event will not pass without being challenged as Stand Up To Racism is planning a peaceful demonstration outside the hotel during Mr Batten’s visit.
This criticism has now been strongly rebuffed by the local branch.
A spokesman for Stand Up To Racism said: “Ukip has become so murky, so full of verbal savagery against migrants and Muslims that even Nigel Farage has given up on them.
“Everyone knows that there is a major crisis inside British society. Deprivation and insecurity combined with the Government’s inability to address the problems of poverty and inequality have produced a dangerous level of demoralisation.
“Ukip use this to divide people along racial and religious lines, trying to imitate what Donald Trump is doing in the US.
“But this solves absolutely nothing. All it does is let those responsible off the hook. We need unity: we need solidarity with those struggling.”
However, Ukip Wigan has robustly defended the event, which it says is now sold out, and took issue with the views of its critics.
Branch chair Dalila Garcia Fearn said: "We've nothing to hide. The room is now full and if it was bigger there would be more people coming.
"They will be listening to a heterogeneous group of people who care about the country, the culture and the future of its children. That's all Ukip is about: Brexit and our future.
"The criticism is because Gerard Batten is coming but I went to the national conference and didn't see any of the sort of behaviour people have claimed happens.
"I don't see any racism in Wigan Ukip. We have people from all backgrounds coming together to find common ground in a middle-of-the-road people's party."
The event takes place tomorrow (Tuesday January 8) at 8pm.