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Britain's Ukip demands Swedish TV apology

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Britain's Ukip demands Swedish TV apology
Ukip leader Nigel Farage pictured last year. Photo: TT
14:36 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Sweden's media watchdog has given public broadcaster SVT a rap on the knuckles for labelling Britain's Ukip an "extreme right-wing populist party" and the party has told The Local it now wants a public apology from the broadcaster.
The Swedish Broadcasting Authority (Granskningsnämnden) launched an investigation when a member of the public reported SVT’s Aktuellt news programme to the watchdog after hearing comments made about Ukip by a correspondent in Brussels in a section about UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s tougher line on immigration. 
 
“How many [immigrants] can be restricted and how many can be blocked? This is a political debate being driven by Ukip, the UK Independence Party, and Cameron now needs to stem the flow from his party to the extreme right-wing populist party, so that’s why he is doing this,” the reporter said.
 
On Monday, Granskningsnämnden issued a statement arguing that the broadcaster did not remain duly impartial and said that SVT should make public “in an appropriate manner” the ruling against the network.
 
SVT rejected the complaint, arguing the reporter's comments did not run counter to its rules on impartiality.
 
“The phrase ‘extreme right-wing’ could have been nuanced more in the segment but should be viewed in the context of a quick live report delivered at short notice in a vibrant city environment and with very limited time in the programme," the broadcaster said in a statement.
 
Reacting to the ruling, Ukip's migration spokesman Steven Woolfe MEP told The Local:

"Ukip looks forward to a contrite apology from Swedish TV. As a moderate party, we welcome members and candidates of all races and religions. Unlike other major British political parties, we bar from membership anybody who has ever been in an extreme party of the left or right".

Woolfe added: "As someone of mixed race myself with African, Irish and Jewish heritage, I am a member of Ukip because its migration policy welcomes people on merit rather than ethnicity. We are a moderate libertarian party which believes in liberty and democratic self-determination - there is nothing either left-wing or right-wing about that."

Ukip's leader Nigel Farage has long argued that its desire to limit immigration in the UK does not mean that its members are racist.
 
He has previously accused British media of mislabelling his party following highly controversial comments by a handful of former members including a Stockport candidate who branded Islam 'evil' in an interview with The Sunday Times and has since resigned.
 
In a speech to activists in May 2014 he said "huge sections of the British media, defending their friends in the so-called main parties - or as we prefer to call them the legacy parties" had over-publicised the "offensive, idiotic statements made by this handful of people".
 
"I don't care what you call us. You can call us right-wing, left-wing, you can call us small minded - I don't care what you call us.

"But from this moment on please do not ever call us a racist party. We are not a racist party," he said.

Farage has however landed himself in hot water over some of his own comments, including a suggestion he would be nervous if a group of Romanians or Bulgarians moved in next door to him. He later argued that he had been "tired" when he made the comments.

The Swedish Broadcasting Authority's announcement came as Ukip's leader Nigel Farage launched his party's UK general election campaign in London.

Ukip made its first significant breakthrough in the 2013 local elections in the UK, when it came fourth in terms of the number of council seats won and gained a third of votes overall.
 
Until recently it was regularly scoring in the high teens in voter opinion polls, but is now understood to have around ten to 12 percent support.
 
Sweden's nationalist party, the Sweden Democrats won almost 13 percent of the vote in the country's last election in September 2014 and is now the third largest party in the Swedish parliament.
 
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