Wiltshire

Nazi comparison on forum prompts Swindon council row

Councillor Rod Bluh
Image caption Conservative Rod Bluh, pictured, said he thought Mr Reid had "gone too far"

The leader of a council is to ask Ed Miliband to stop a prospective Labour candidate standing for local election over comments posted on a forum.

It comes after Geoff Reid likened Swindon Borough Council leaders to the Nazi Party on an internet forum.

Conservative Rod Bluh, leader of the council, said he thought Mr Reid had "gone too far".

Labour bosses said Mr Reid had apologised and regretted any offence caused.

Mr Reid's comments on the Talk Swindon website related to the Conservative-run authority's plans to transfer council houses to a private housing association, and singled out Russell Holland, the cabinet member for housing.

Mr Reid wrote: "An awful irony to even consider, but the way Cllr Holland and Co have chosen to 'move the debate forwards' reminds me of the way that Germany's National Socialist Party lined up the Jews to take the blame for many of Germany economic and social ills."

'Represent thousands'

Conservative Mr Holland said: "Comments like this, they're harmful to the whole democratic process.

"It's a sad day for Swindon Labour and it's a sad day for Swindon.

Image caption Mr Holland said the comments were harmful to the democratic process

"If Geoff Reid were a private individual and he went saying these things, then we could say 'OK well some people are like that aren't they'.

"But this is someone who Swindon Labour say should be elected to represent thousands of people in the council chamber and to make decisions in the interest of this borough."

Mr Bluh added: "What I'm asking for is for him to be de-selected as a candidate... I don't think he's fit and proper to be a candidate for any party.

"Obviously I can't make that happen and if the Labour Party choose to put him up as a candidate well so be it, but I'm not going to let this rest because I think this man has gone too far."

'Unfortunate words'

Jim Grant, leader of the Labour Group on the council, said the Tories needed to move on.

"My view is the choice of words is very unfortunate and they have caused offence, and Geoff shouldn't have used those words," he said.

"But my view is now that he has apologised, he's willing to speak further to those people that have taken offence, I think the Conservative councillors should move on from this."

He said Mr Reid would still be allowed to stand in the next local elections.

Phil Gaskin, regional director of Labour South West, said: "I've had a conversation with both Geoff Reid and Jim Grant and Geoff has made an apology and he does regret any offence caused.

"Further to my decision with him, Geoff will be choosing his words more carefully in future."

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