Entertainment & Arts

Mike Read withdraws UKIP Calypso song

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Media captionMike Read sings the UKIP Calypso at a fringe event during the party conference

Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read has requested a song he wrote in support of UKIP be withdrawn from sale following complaints that it was racist.

UKIP Calypso, performed with a mock Caribbean accent, sings the praises of party leader Nigel Farage.

"I am so sorry that the song unintentionally caused offence. It was never meant to, and I apologise unreservedly," Read said.

"I have told the record company to withdraw the single immediately."

By Wednesday, the song had reached number 21 in the midweek singles chart.

UKIP criticised the "synthetic outrage" and said that "those so concerned with political correctness have trodden all over this".

Image copyright Joel Goodman/LNP/Rex
Image caption Read's song had the backing of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who urged supporters to get it to number one

The party said all proceeds would go to the Red Cross to help fight Ebola, but the charity said it would not accept them.

"As a neutral organisation, we cannot benefit from something which overtly supports one political party," a spokeswoman said.

"In addition, the Red Cross has a proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers who are negatively referred to in the lyrics."

The song, credited to The Independents, features lines like: "The leaders committed a cardinal sin/Open the borders let them all come in/Illegal immigrants in every town/Stand up and be counted Blair and Brown."

Image copyright PA
Image caption UKIP said the song 'would have generated a lot of money for charity'

Read later told BBC London: "People are very, very, very quick to take offence now at something that years ago would have been deemed to be a bit of satire and a bit of fun.

"But now with social media everybody can assume that you meant something appalling by it, which of course I didn't. I've got so many chums out in the Caribbean. I've spent a lot of time out there."

Record label Angel Air declined to comment on his request to withdraw the song from sale.

'Treated harshly'

A UKIP spokesman said: "This is Mike's song and it is obviously his decision what to do with it.

"We do think it is a shame that he has been treated so harshly by many in the 'right on' media, but we respect his decision. We thought it was just a bit of fun, as did thousands of people, evidenced by how well it has been selling.

"Were it not for the synthetic outrage, the song would have generated a lot of money for charity."

In response to the Red Cross's decision to decline the donation, UKIP chairman Steve Crowther accused the charity of putting "politics over saving people's lives".

"We will seek to donate all the money to another charity working to help tackle the tragic Ebola crisis in West Africa," he said.

When the song came to light earlier this week, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna called it "distasteful".

Conservative MP Nigel Evans added: "Why have they chosen a Jamaican calypso, which really represents a whole section of society they want to close the door to?

"I suppose it is their way of saying 'We are not racist', but it shows how out of touch they are."

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