Sweden Democrat press officer Henrik Gustafsson told Swedish news agency TT that he was “surprised” by Collins' original proposal which “goes against our policy in general, our manifesto and the policies we pursue to reduce segregation and increase cohesion and community in society. To us, it is important to talk about political solutions that increase and promote inclusion and not the opposite.”
Mark Collins, 63, on a recent fishing holiday in Norway: Photo: Private
Mark Collins, 63, from Kramfors in the Västernorrland region, sent an email requesting to leave the party on Tuesday morning, after his proposal was rejected as “a serious infraction”, and “an incredibly problematic incident” by the party's leadership.
He will now sit on the local council either as an independent or join another party.
“They said they're going to discipline me with a rule that SD has against any building or architecture that does not resemble Western culture,” he said of the party's internal reaction.
“It seems like a page torn out of the Nuremberg racial laws,” he told The Local, referring to the anti-Semitic laws introduced by Germany's Nazi Party in 1935. “It's absolutely absurd, it's off-the-wall, crazy shit.”
Collins, who moved to Sweden from New Jersey in 1974 and works as a veterinary surgeon, said that while he had intended his proposal to shake things up, he had not expected it to attract any attention outside the town.
“It really blew up in my face, didn't it?” he laughed. “Those frigging Irish genes are constantly fucking with me.”
He explained that he had hoped that the proposal would shake the sleepy left-wing Social Democrat stronghold out of its complacency over long-running population decline.
“I'm in this little tiny place up in Norrland, and it was mostly meant as a thought-provoking thing to try and get people up here, because immigrants are the only group that is mobile, but I never thought it would be such a big thing.”
While he knew it was a provocative suggestion coming from a Sweden Democrat, a party known for its anti-immigration policies, he claimed he had not expected negative feedback from the party at a national level.
“I actually expected locally that they would say 'Mark, you're an asshole',” he said. “But this is how stupid I am, I never thought for a minute that they [the party leadership] would have anything against it. I thought they'd shrug their shoulders and say, 'what do we care what they do up there'.”
Since the furore over his proposal became national news, Collins said he had faced a torrent of abuse and threats over social media.
“I'm constantly getting hate mail from SD supporters. You just see this pent up, ultra-right frustration, coming from a lot more people than I thought.”
Some of the threats had been disturbing, he said.
“People are ringing me up with hidden numbers, saying 'It's Tommy from Stockholm'. There's all sorts of mudslinging going down, all for this silly little motion in Kramfors.”
“It's uncomfortable. It's creepy. I'm a little bit worried about crazy people.”
He said he was disappointed both that the Sweden Democrat leadership had come back so forcefully against his proposal, and that they had not come forward to defend him against the vitriol he was facing.
“You'd think SD would come out and say 'we don't support these right-wing extremists',” he said. “I didn't think they were still back in the dark old days. I thought that they had moved on.”