SOLIHULL Conservative MP Julian Knight has been called on to resign after his own demands for a Green councillor’s head appeared to backfire during a Twitter spat concerning attempts to woo BNP voters.
The fiery Twitter ‘debate’ rumbled on for days after the Green Party was last week accused by Mr Knight of duping BNP voters as part of its electoral strategy.
Solihull MP Julian Knight called for Green councillor Chris Williams to resign after accusations he wrote a party manual called ‘How to Win an Election’.
It advised Green Party canvassers to encourage BNP and UKIP voters to the polling station, not telling them there are no candidates from those parties, hoping the voters will be ‘anti-Labour’ enough to then vote Green.
Mr Knight tweeted: “This is absolutely appalling not just cynical but dangerous. There is no room for such politics in our borough. Coun Williams must step down immediately.”
Conservative supporters joined Mr Knight in calling for Coun Williams’ head despite the fact he did not actually write the document, the Green Party says. The Solihull and Meriden Labour Party chairman Nick Stephens also condemned the document.
Mr Knight also wrote a letter to Solihull council chief executive Nick Page calling on a formal investigation into Coun Williams.
Then, on Sunday, details from what appears to be a Conservative Councillors’ Association manual called ‘How to Win Local Elections’ revealed similar tactics have been encouraged for Conservative canvassers.
The MP was accused of hypocrisy and Liberal Democrat councillor Ade Adeyemo took the opportunity to call for Mr Knight to resign.
Coun Adeyemo referenced ‘Appendix B: How to Beat the BNP’ which advises Tory campaigners: “By all means write to such voters with a tactical message such as ‘only the Conservatives can beat Labour in this area. A vote for any other party is a vote for Labour to stay in power’.”
Coun Adeyemo said: “Evidence has now come to light which shows that Julian Knight’s Conservative Party also advocates similar behaviour when faced with BNP supporters.
“This is exactly what Julian Knight is saying that the Green Party shouldn’t do. He has also called several times for councillor Williams to resign over this matter.
“Now that it is clear that his own party also does the same, will Julian Knight now resign as MP?
“In his desperation to deflect attention, he accuses an innocent man of racism when his own party advocates the same behaviour.”
Mr Knight had in fact repeatedly used the phrase “pandering to racism” in relation to the Green councillor and the Green Party document.
A Green Party spokesperson said: “The comments directed at councillor Chris Williams are ridiculous and we reject them in the strongest possible terms.
“The document referred to is a Green Party document and should not be attributed to one staff member – Councillor Williams’ name was added in order to field questions about it.
“In fact, the Conservative Party’s own manual advises their activists to go further in engaging BNP voters, by writing directly to them, urging them to vote Conservative.
“Therefore, Julian Knight is either engaging in opportunistic hypocrisy, or he doesn’t know his own party’s policies.”
Mr Knight, responding directly to Coun Adeyemo, said: “Solihull is a diverse, multicultural and welcoming community.
“I was very clear in what I said, and my words are being deliberately twisted by the councillor for purely political purposes.
“No political party should want to attract racist voters.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there’s no room for racism in Solihull – and equally, there’s no room for gutter politics.”