Mon, 22 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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Tory Candidate In Clacton Says Reform Rallies Are "Reminiscent" Of "Nuremberg"

3 min read

The Conservative candidate going up against Nigel Farage in Clacton on 4 July has described Reform UK rallies as “reminiscent of the big rallies at Nuremberg” where Adolf Hitler addressed supporters of the Nazi Party.

Watling, who has been the MP for the Essex seat since 2017, said recent rallies are “chilling” and a “very un-British way of doing things”. 

He told PoliticsHome: “I’m not ascribing any of these sort of things to Nigel Farage himself but the method, the process is just sort of reminiscent of the big rallies at Nuremberg with people standing to one side. It’s a personality cult that’s been created.”

He added: “There may be no evil intent, but it feels wrong and bad."

Watling said there was “beautiful irony” that there has been "defacement" of his campaign posters by people "painting over my face and turning me into Adolf Hitler".

Farage told PoliticsHome: "Watling shows contempt for the thousands of decent people who turned up in Birmingham yesterday and those who come to my rallies in Clacton. They are decent, law abiding citizens. How dare he insult them like that."

On Sunday Farage, who is expected to be elected as an MP for the first time at Thursday's General Election, held a rally in front of a crowd of an estimated 5,000 Reform supporters at the Birmingham NEC.

He received chants of “Nigel!” and supporters wearing t-shirts and masks with his face on. The party’s chief executive, Paul Oakden, opened the event saying: “Make Britain Great Again" — mimicking Donald Trump's "Make American Great Again" slogan.

Farage announced early in the election campaign that he was taking over as Reform leader, replacing the party's now-president Richard Tice. The party has risen in the polls since that announcement and has been level with Rishi Sunak's Tories with some pollsters. While Reform is unlikely to win more than several seats on Thursday, it could do significant damage to the Conservatives by taking votes away from the party.

Conservative candidate in Clacton Giles Watling (Alamy)

In recent days, however, Farage's party has been engulfed in a racism row which is threatening to overshadow the last few days of the party's campaign ahead of polling day on 4 July.

Earlier this month, Reform candidate Ian Gribbin apologised for claiming that Britain would be “far better” off if it had “taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality” instead of fighting the Nazis in the Second World War.

Another Reform candidate Jack Aaron has defended a previous claim that Hitler was “brilliant” and “able to inspire people to action”. Approached by The Times about his February 2022 remarks on X, Aaron said: “Yes, Hitler was as brilliant as he was utter evil. How is that controversial to say, given that he was able to turn the Germans to such destructive acts, including killing many members of my own family?"

One of its canvassers Andrew Parker was filmed by an undercover Channel Four News journalist making a number of discriminatory comments, including using the racial slur "p***" to describe Prime Minister Sunak, calling Islam as a "disgusting cult", and saying the army should "shoot" migrants crossing the Channel.

Farage has claimed that Parker is a “paid actor” who was part of a “smear campaign” against the party.

On Sunday, the Reform candidate Liam Booth-Isherwood in Erewash said he was backing the Tories after becoming “increasingly disillusioned with the behaviour and conduct of Reform” over the past few weeks and “reports of widespread racism and sexism”.

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