Matt Chorley, Daily Mail, February 6, 2015
Nigel Farage was holed up in a Ukip office for almost two hours today after it became surrounded by protesters.
After police told the Ukip leader not to leave the office in Rotherham, he complained the protests were ‘undemocratic’ and blamed unions for mobilising opposition to his party.
It follows his outspoken criticism of the way the grooming scandal in the town had been handled by the local council, but the Labour party accused him of trying to use child abuse to score political points.
After spending almost two hours holed up in the office, Mr Farage was led to safety by police under a large red umbrella.
Mr Farage was due to cut the ribbon on the campaign office of Ukip’s general election candidate Jane Collins, but his team said he was not coming out on police advice.
Around 40 demonstrators gathered on a narrow pavement outside, along with a similar number of media.
His visit comes in the wake of the withering Casey report into way Rotherham Council failed to deal with child sexual exploitation in the town.
The party has 10 councillors in the town which is one of its main target seats in the north.
The protesters were peaceful, but noisy, many of them carrying placards saying ‘Reject Ukip lies’, and shouting that the Ukip leader was not welcome in the town.
Others said ‘your wife is an immigrant’–a reference to Mr Farage’s German-born wife Kirsten.
Outside the office one woman was seen breastfeeding, after Mr Farage said mothers of newborn babies should avoid being ‘openly ostentatious’ when breastfeeding.
But giving a live TV interview from inside the office, Mr Farage sought to blame trade unions.
He told BBC Two’s Daily Politics: ‘It’s the same as the rest of the country, to be honest with you, there is a trade-union attempt to stop Ukip speaking . . .
‘Everywhere we go there is an attempt to stop us engaging with the public.’
He added: ‘If you look, in fact you will see the two biggest unions in the country both directly contribute towards this campaign and, interestingly, amongst the protesters outside there are a couple of people who were Labour councillors until they lost their seats to Ukip.’
He complained that the protest was ‘not only undemocratic, it’s very anti-British’.
However, Ukip has been accused of trying to use the Rotherham abuse scandal to score political points, with repeated attacks on ‘multiculturalism’.
Writing in The Independent today, Mr Farage said: ‘I shall be visiting Rotherham today, and alongside Ukip’s representatives and candidates will call for immediate, wholesale change for the area, including elections for the entirety of the council on 7 May.
‘As for the crimes and the criminals themselves, I do hope–though I won’t hold my breath–that the political elite that steered us blindly into this multiculturalism experiment have learned the lessons of what they think is ‘tolerance’ but what is actually complicity.
‘There’s nothing ‘tolerant’ about looking the other way when mass rape and grooming is occurring, and in fact it does a great injustice to the law-abiding immigrants who get blamed, attacked or simply feel guilt through association.’
But local Labour MP Sarah Champion said she thought it was ‘hilarious’ that Mr Farage had been confronted by protesters unhappy at Ukip’s presence in the town.
She told BBC Two: ‘He came here to try and point score. It’s like some sort of voyeuristic tourism tourism that’s going on.
‘I’m very keen that we address the issue rather than point score. The fact that he came here with his circus and has ended up barricaded in his shop with people in Rotherham who are saying this is absolutely disgusting.
‘We don’t want you coming and trying to get elected off the back of the abuse that’s been going on in our town.
‘I do find that funny because the people of Rotherham know what’s right and what’s wrong.’
Rotherham Borough Council’s entire cabinet resigned this week in the wake of a damning report by Louise Casey into its handling of allegations of abuse and grooming in the town.
The inspection report painted a picture of a council in complete denial about the issue and a culture of bullying, ‘misplaced political correctness’ and silencing whistle-blowers.
The report had been ordered in the wake of the revelation that 1,400 children had been subjected to rape, violence and trafficking by gangs of mainly Asian men
Mr Pickles made his announcement just moments after the authority’s entire cabinet announced its intention to resign in the wake of the Casey Report.
Council leader Paul Lakin, who only took up post last year after the previous leader resigned in the wake of the scandal, stepped down with immediate effect.
Mr Farage repeated his party’s call for the whole of Rotherham Council to face re-election in May, rather than waiting until next year.
A Ukip statement said: ‘These protesters aren’t the real people of Rotherham. This is the Labour Party running scared and trying to shut down any voice of opposition.
‘They are just people who are trying to stifle democratic debate. Surely they should be directing their anger at those who presided over the industrial scale of abuse in this town, rather than those who are trying to change it for the better.
‘They are more interested in keeping power than serving the people, which is what led to the cover-up.’
In May 2013, Mr Farage had to be locked in a Scottish pub for his own safety after being surrounded by a hostile crowd.
The Ukip leader and his entourage were first heckled as they attempted to hold a press conference in The Canons’ Gait in Edinburgh by protesters shouting ‘racist scumbag’ and ‘scum’.