Blackburn with Darwen: Election candidate under fire for Facebook posts

A CANDIDATE in this year’s local elections has come under fire for ‘disgusting’ comments made on social media.

The comments, made on Facebook in 2018 by current Conservative candidate for Darwen South Andrew Walker, appear to show support for far-right EDL founder and convicted criminal Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known by his alias ‘Tommy Robinson’, while another jokes that stabbing former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should “earn you a knighthood.”

The posts were brought to light by a concerned resident who claims to have first raised them with Conservative central office but, on failing to receive a response, then shared screenshots of the posts (pictured) with Darwen Labour Party chair Matthew Gibson who has now decided to make them public.

Mr Gibson said: “I’m sure you’d agree that not only is this a disgusting statement to make, especially when elected MP Jo Cox was killed not that long ago, it is anti-democratic.”

The Westmorland Gazette:

A Facebook post appearing to show support for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, better known as ‘Tommy Robinson’ 

One of the posts in question is a share of a news article published by online outlet GBrexit.com headlined “Tommy Robinson has done nothing but expose the truth behind radical Islam” which Mr Walker has captioned with the comment “Can’t be easy preaching what we all think.”

Anti-fascist charity Hope Not Hate defines ‘Robinson’ as “a far-right Islamophobic extremist” while his criminal record includes numerous convictions for violence, fraud, drug possession and public order offences.

In 2018, ‘Robinson’ was jailed for almost collapsing the trial of a grooming gang in Huddersfield by live streaming himself outside the court despite reporting restrictions having been put in place by the judge.

On his release he stood as an independent candidate for the North West in the European elections of May 2019 in which he received 2.2 per cent of the vote.

The Westmorland Gazette:

A meme shared by Mr Walker

Meanwhile, another post shows Mr Walker commenting on a meme created by ‘LoveGB’ which reads “Trust Corbyn to run the country?”

Mr Walker’s comment reads: “Stabbing Corbyn would get you knighted in my book.”

The Westmorland Gazette:

Mr Walker’s comment

Both of these statements have been condemned by Mr Walker’s Labour opponent Matthew Gibson.

He said: “No matter what anyone’s views about any politician, incitement to such violence is completely unacceptable in our democracy, we have always taken pride in being respectful to opponents.”

According to Mr Gibson, the posts a member of the public first raised the posts with Conservative central office in 2018.

However, Mr Walker, then a Conservative candidate for Darwen West, was not investigated as he resigned from the party shortly afterwards.

He has since rejoined before being selected as candidate for Darwen South.

Blackburn with Darwen Conservative group leader Councillor John Slater has confirmed that neither he, Mr Walker nor the Conservative Party will be commenting on the matter.

The local elections are for due to take place at various boroughs across East Lancashire and around the country on Thursday May 6.

The Westmorland Gazette | North Lancs