Don't join social media, British anti-EU party UKIP's chief tells members after gaffes

UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies.

Recent incidents include UKIP candidate William Henwood tweeting the suggestion that black comedian Lenny Henry does "not have to live with whites" and could emigrate and Andre Lampitt, the star of the party's 2014 European elections broadcast, calling Islam "evil" and saying that Africans should "kill themselves".

Last week, possible parliamentary candidate Kerry Smith quit after leaked recordings of him describing gay people as "disgusting old poofters" and a Chinese person as "chinky" emerged online.

A new party constitution, approved by the national executive council and published in Sunday's Observer newspaper, promises a harder line on web discipline, and the ability to suspend anyone should they "embarrass" the party.

"Party members shall refrain from using the UKIP logo in terms of their online postings, including avatars, unless they have express written consent to do so from the party leader, the party chairman, the party secretary, the general secretary, the party director, the regional chairman or regional organiser for their region," it reads.

UKIP chairman Steve Crowther recently wrote that the party had adopted a new set of rules "to fill a notable hole in our code of discipline".

"My advice: just don't," he said of members thinking of joining social media.

"Remember life before you could delight the whole world with your every passing thought? It wasn't so bad, was it? I have no Facebook page, Twitter account or Instagram thingy. It's lovely," he added.

The party recently claimed its first two members of parliament, and is threatening to lure voters away from the main parties at next year's general election.