A formal complaint has been made to the National Assembly’s Standards Commissioner after a Ukip AM suggested to a constituent that he should move to Venezuela.
Science teacher Steven Murray emailed South Wales Central Ukip AM Gareth Bennett in the wake of the referendum result, saying: “Congratulations on your disastrous result for Wales. Very simple and specific question: What will happen to Flying Start funding?”
Flying Start is the Welsh Government’s early learning scheme for children up to four years of age in disadvantaged areas.
‘If you can’t cope with it, move to Venezuela’
Mr Bennett responded: “We will shortly find out. Sorry the result of our democratic vote evidently didn’t go the way you wanted – but that is the nature of the democracy.
“If you can’t cope with it, move to Venezuela.”
Venezuela is currently in economic chaos, people storming supermarkets because of food shortages. Its popular left wing President Hugo Chavez died of cancer three years ago and his chosen successor Nicolas Maduro is regarded by most Venezuelans as incompetent. The country has also suffered since the drop in the international oil price.
Dr Murray wrote back, saying: “Thank you for your considered response. I have registered a formal complaint.”
‘Try getting a life’
Mr Bennett responded with the message: “Okay sunshine, so be it. Now don’t waste any more of my time and try getting a life.”
Dr Murray said: “I have complained to the Standards Commissioner. Is this a person fit for public office?”
The Assembly’s Commissioner for Standards investigates complaints made against AMs. The code of conduct for AMs states: “Assembly Members should at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the Assembly and refrain from any action which would bring the Assembly, or its Members generally, into disrepute.”
In the run-up to the recent Assembly election, Mr Bennett came under severe criticism after criticising the multi-racial character of Cardiff.
He blamed immigrants for rubbish problems in the city’s City Road district , saying “some of the ethnicities… possibly the eastern Europeans, just don’t have any awareness of the hygiene problem that is being caused at times”.
He described City Road as “a melting pot of different races all getting on each other’s nerves, I think, and certainly causing lots of problems because of different cultural attitudes.”
After his comments to WalesOnline he repeated his views on the BBC TV Daily Politics programme hosted by Andrew Neil.
Mr Bennett threatened to sue Ukip for £300,000 loss of earnings if he was deselected as Ukip’s lead candidate in the South Wales Central region. The party’s national executive committee endorsed his candidacy despite 16 other Ukip candidates calling for him to be sacked.
After the election, he backed Neil Hamilton – who had described him as “a nice chap” – for the Assembly group leadership over Ukip Wales leader and MEP Nathan Gill.