UK & World News

  • 10 August 2014, 11:19

Senior UKIP Politician In 'Copy Hitler' Row

A senior UKIP politician has defended reports he urged young party members to "copy Hitler".

The Mail On Sunday acquired a recording of West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge telling prospective candidates to "pick up little moments" of Hitler'sspeaking style.

Mr Etheridge can be heard saying the Nazi leader was "a hateful figure who achieved a great deal".

The Mail carried its story under the headline: "UKIP urges its youth wing: copy Hitler."

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Etheridge called the article a "silly, unpleasant attack".

"Hitler was an evil, monstrous tyrant but that doesn't mean he wasn't good at public speaking," said the 44-year-old.

"I wish he hadn't been, but we must be able to discuss historical figures without being slurred as agreeing with them.

"I speak about Tony Blair, Dr Martin Luther King and President Ronald Reagan - all kinds of people who were great public speakers.

"I regret that the Mail should stoop so low - it's embarrassing for all of us."

The recording - which Sky News has verified - was made last week at a conference for UKIP's youth wing, Young Independents.

Mr Etheridge, who is also a Dudley councillor, is heard saying: "If you look back to the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history.

"When Hitler gave speeches, and many of the more famous ones were at rallies, at the start he walks, back and forth, looked at people - there was a silence, he waited minutes just looking out at people, fixing them with his gaze.

"And they were looking back and he would do it for a while. And then they were so desperate for him to start that when he started speaking they were hanging on his every word.

"Again, I'm not saying direct copy - pick up little moments."

Labour MP Mike Gapes told the Mail On Sunday: "I thought nothing could surprise me anymore, but this just goes to show that (Nigel)Farage has completely failed to clean up his party.

"One of his MEPs training young candidates to speak like Hitler? Simply unbelievable."

But UKIP said The Mail On Sunday's interpretation of the speech was "truly disgusting".

A spokesman added: "Bill Etheridge gave a seminar on public speaking and highlighted great speakers of the past, like Churchill, Blair, Martin Luther King and Hitler as people whose style, not content could be studied.

"It is no surprise that two national newspapers have covered this conference - The Guardian and The Mail on Sunday. One gave it a fair hearing, the other as a Tory paper is terrified by the rise of UKIP and apparently will stoop to nothing to attack the party. We are disappointed, but unsurprised.

"During a period of respectful and pensive commemoration of those who gave their lives in war, the Tory Mail on Sunday's tasteless and desperate front page attack is truly disgusting."

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