Ukip stu­dent leader de­fends far right group Face­book ad

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion - By Lowri Chant lchant@thek­m­group.co.uk @Lowrichant

A new stu­dent branch of Ukip has de­fended its de­ci­sion to tar­get peo­ple in­ter­ested in Bri­tain First.

The Univer­sity of Kent Ukip Stu­dents group, which launched last week, paid to dis­play spon­sored posts on the Face­book feeds of users who had liked or clicked on ads for the far-right or­gan­i­sa­tion.

But pres­i­dent Joe Si­mons dis­tanced the group from the con­tro­ver­sial party, de­scrib­ing the move as “ba­sic mar­ket­ing”.

He said: “One of the first rules on Ukip’s terms and con­di­tions is you can­not join Ukip if you’ve pre­vi­ously been a mem­ber of Bri­tain First. If there was ev­i­dence some­one who wanted to join the so­ci­ety had, we would look into it.

“But some­one who clicks on the Bri­tain First page isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a mem­ber. I fol­low groups whose poli­cies I dis­agree with, in­clud­ing Labour, Lib­eral Democrats, and so on.”

Joe, who is a sec­ond year his­tory stu­dent at the univer­sity, said the group had gen­er­ated in­ter­est, but there had also been a not-so-wel­com­ing re­sponse.

He said: “The neg­a­tive re­ac­tion is to be ex­pected on a univer­sity cam­pus, es­pe­cially one that claims to be the UK’S Euro- Joe Si­mons has de­fended the de­ci­sion to tar­get stu­dents

pean Univer­sity.

“But we could’ve set up in Bath or Edinburgh and the re­ac­tion would have been the same.

“There is quite a strong pop­u­la­tion of con­ser­va­tive with a small ‘c’ stu­dents in Kent, so we’ve had quite a bit of in­ter­est.”

He said any­one is wel­come to join, in­clud­ing the cam­pus’s many for­eign stu­dents, adding: “Peo­ple don’t have to share our views. Our main thing is free­dom of speech.

“We’re quite lucky to have a very strong sense of in­ter­ac­tion among peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds.”

The group, which is part of the na­tional Ukip Stu­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, held its first event last Wednesday, a pub crawl, which Joe said was well-at­tended.

Fu­ture plans in­clude de­bat­ing and pub­lic speaker events, film nights and in­volve­ment in the cam­paign for elec­toral re­form.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.face­book.com/ken­tukipS­tu­dents.

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