Clear Channel UK have sold advertising space to the UK Independence Party in Levenshulme, Manchester. The billboard in question is part of their 2014 election campaign, and it reads, 'Stop Open Door EU Immigration. Enough's Enough.'
Levenshulme is an area of wide ethnic and cultural diversity, with 45% of its population classed as non-British, according to the 2001 UK census (http://bit.ly/XbaBrn). Several Levenshulme residents called, emailed and tweeted Clear Channel on Friday March 29th 2013 to ask for the poster to be removed, as they felt its location was insensitive to the demographics of the local population. (It's actually placed above a Paddy Power shop). On Tuesday April 2nd 2013, Clear Channel announced that the poster would remain because it adhered to ASA standards, though they acknowledged the sensitivity of immigration as a political issue, and referred further complaints to the ASA. The ASA, however, don't deal with complaints about political posters. Neither do the Electoral Commission deal with complaints regarding the contents of posters by political parties.
We recognise that Clear Channel UK have the right to display the poster, and they have entered into a business contract with UKIP, which they understandably want to honour. On the other hand, we, the undersigned, are now asking them to reconsider their decision: not on the basis of political bias, but rather in acknowledgement of the harassment and stress that supporters of the poster have inflicted upon those Levenshulme residents who chose, quite legally, to complain.
Several female residents of Levenshulme who tweeted Clear Channel about the poster have been targeted by these supporters: they have publicly (on twitter, Facebook and blog comments) been called Nazis, fascists, cunts, fucktards, leftards, gutless maggots, pathetic, scum, 'mouthy madams', 'Toy Town Trots', rapists, dickhead trolls, pigs, wankers, hysterical, stupid bitches, morons, unemployable, evil, hypocrites, brain-dead, slappers, 'nasty piece of work' and ugly. Their IQ sizes have been compared to their bra-sizes. The locations, web URLS and names of five female protesters have been posted online alongside queries like 'got any dirt on it?'. They have received threatening emails (several from a UKIP PPC for Pendle, Lanc). They were accused, without evidence in all but one case, of being members of trade unions or opposing political parties, and accused of 'posing as ordinary citizens', and of being part of a 'middle class wankfest'.
An article in the online paper, The Commentator (http://bit.ly/XMIqMu), much of which included factually incorrect information about the protesters, attracted numerous comments, one of which accumulated (at the time of writing) 79 'likes' for saying:
'Let me tell the initiated, Levenshulme is a cesspit, it might as well be India/Pakistan, there are virtually zero white British people there, UKIP are wasting there time in Levenshulme/Rusholme, all they're interested in is more immigration from the Asian sub continent, Salford however is a white working class area, poorly represented by Hazel Blears & full of patriotic folk hit hard by mass unskilled Eastern European immigration, UKIP should concentrate on Salford, Levenshulme should just be quarantined.'
Another comment described Levenshulme as a 'toilet'.
Another said, 'Levenshulme is another Immigrant Ghetto so the reaction is understandable. Unfortunately areas such as this are becoming much more common thanks to Tory/Labours Mass Immigration.The people I feel sorry for are the British people, mainly Elderly that become trapped in such areas.The UK is quickly turning into one big Immigrant Slum.'
One protester, a university lecturer, was accused of 'producing an illegitimate child in order to get more benefits.' The PPC for Pendle told her he would 'would write to her father and tell him what his daughter is up to in Manchester.' He goes on to say, in a comment on the Commentator newspaper article, 'although she lives in Gorton or Levenshulhme, she is not of those areas and will not hang around with the drink beer, shag women, low wage earners who make up the population. She will mix with students, ex-students and ethnics, none of whom are going to give her the schooling that we administered to her over the past couple of days. She should thank us but probably won't.' And, later: 'Mental health problems coupled with incredibly scrawny tits - have you ever seen her in action on YouTube? I tell you, any man married to her could be arrested for possession of an offensive wife.'
We, the undersigned, are calling on Clear Channel to cease tacitly supporting such vile misogyny by removing the UKIP poster. It may or may not incite racial hatred, as the initial complaints suggested, but it has already not only incited, but directly caused an immense outpouring of hatred towards local women.
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