BNP supporters in the Orsett council ward have been left high and dry, after the party axed its candidate in a row over his UKIP connections.
Mark O’ Nion caused a stir when pictures on his Facebook page appeared to show him in a Nazi salute pose - and when it was revealed his aunt was UKIP candidate for the ward Marie Andrews. That led to accusations of him being a UKIP mole, planted to discredit the BNP and sway potential voters. The matter was further complicated when the party tried to take Mr O'Nion off the candidates' list, but the withdrawal deadline had passed, meaning he remains the official BNP candidate at the election.
BNP parliamentary candidate for Thurrock, Emma Colgate, is now urging anyone in Orsett who wanted to vote BNP in the local elections to vote for East Thurrock candidate Chris Roberts in the general election. She said: “We've taken all the steps that we can. We took action as soon as we knew, but we missed the cut off point to withdraw the candidate. Its disappointing because we had other people we could have put there. We had a selection process this year which was a first for us.”
UKIP’s Kerry Smith, who is the prospective Parliamentary candidate for East Thurrock, confirmed that Marie Andrews and Mark O'Nion are related, but was furious about the claims, saying his party is considering taking legal action over the matter. He said: “This is a really deplorable, petty and sick attack by the BNP to cover up their own errors in selecting candidates. I am calling on the BNP to immediately apologise to my candidate. Marie is quite upset with the bully boy tactics. We are now looking into suing the BNP.”
James Bethell, from the “Nothing British about the BNP” campaign group, called for Mr O'Nion to be sacked before the UKIP revelations after seeing the Facebook pictures. He said: “If mainstream candidates can be sacked for saying revolting things about the Queen or joking that they prefer bananas harvested by slaves, then it is perfectly reasonable to expect Nick Griffin to fire a BNP candidate with explicit Nazi sympathies.”