Britain's UKIP drops candidate for saying he'd shoot rival

AP News
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Posted: May 06, 2015 12:45 PM
Britain's UKIP drops candidate for saying he'd shoot rival

LONDON (AP) — Britain's political leaders visited factories, farms, supermarkets and schools Wednesday on the final day of campaigning before an election predicted to be excruciatingly close and frustratingly indecisive.

The election race drew to a bumpy close for the U.K. Independence Party, which suspended a candidate for making remarks about shooting his Conservative opponent in the head.

Robert Blay, who was running in the southern English seat of North East Hampshire, was recorded by an undercover reporter saying of Conservative candidate Ranil Jayawardena that he would "put a bullet between his eyes" if Jayawardena became prime minister.

The Daily Mirror ran footage of Blay making the comments and saying Jayawardena, who has Sri Lankan heritage, was "not British enough to be in our Parliament."

"We've suspended him immediately, which is the right thing to do, and we do have a history of getting rid of people when they do something wrong very quickly indeed," said UKIP deputy chief Paul Nuttall.

Hampshire police said they were reviewing the comments as part of "initial inquiries" but added that no one had been arrested.

It is the latest in a string of embarrassing comments by members of UKIP, which has seen support grow for its anti-European Union stance and hopes to win a handful of seats on Thursday.

Small parties could play a major role in determining who governs Britain after an election that polls suggest is too close to call. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour look likely to win a majority of House of Commons seats, and their poll ratings have barely shifted during the monthlong campaign, with each supported by about a third of voters.

Both big parties, however, insisted they were aiming for outright victory. Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged he was "nervous" about the result, but said he hadn't spent time planning for postelection talks with prospective coalition partners.

"I'm out there trying to convince people that the Conservative Party has the right answers to keep the economy growing, to keep creating those jobs, cutting those taxes, investing in our NHS (health service)," he said.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told BBC radio: "I'm not countenancing defeat. I'm focusing on winning the election."

Miliband faced a torrent of last-minute criticism from right-leaning British newspapers, which have depicted the prospect of a Labour government supported by the separatist Scottish National Party — one possible election outcome — as a threat to Britain's future.

British newspapers do not confine their attempts at political influence to editorial-page endorsements. The Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun ran a front-page photo of Miliband awkwardly eating a bacon sandwich, with the headline "Save Our Bacon."

The right-wing Daily Mail urged readers not to let "a class-war zealot and the SNP destroy our economy — and our very nation."

British newspapers once carried considerable political clout, but their influence, like their circulations, may be on the wane in the Internet age.

Also facing a dramatic reduction in influence are the Liberal Democrats. The party has been junior coalition partner to Cameron's Conservatives since 2010, but has seen its ratings slide to single digits and looks set to lose a big chunk of its 59 seats.

But leader Nick Clegg insisted his party "will be the surprise story of the election."

"We are going to do so much better than anybody thinks," Clegg said.