Former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton is now UKIP’s leader in the Welsh Assembly. During this week’s debate on Brexit, he caused outrage with a ‘joke’ about suicide.
The suicide joke
Labour Assembly Member (AM) Eluned Morgan was expressing her regret over Britain leaving the EU. She told the assembly she was most concerned about poor and otherwise vulnerable constituents, saying:
Today’s a profoundly sad day for the nation and also for our children and our children’s children. Of course, those who will pay the highest price for Article 50 will be those who can least afford it.
Hamilton was heard to respond that “suicide is an option”.
— BBC Wales Politics (@WalesPolitics) March 29, 2017
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
The presiding officer of the Welsh Assembly called upon Hamilton to apologise for his remarks. And after several denials, the UKIP leader gave a half-apology. He told the presiding officer:
What was unparliamentary about the remark? … In deference to you Llywydd, I will apologise for whatever remark I am supposed to have made.
There has been widespread condemnation of Hamilton’s comments. Many people took to social media to call for the UKIP AM’s resignation. Including the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood:
— LeanneWood 🏴 (@LeanneWood) March 30, 2017
"suicide is an option" – The words of Neil Hamilton AM in the chamber. Weak apology and denying saying it. Unamused. pic.twitter.com/BADteIpG15
— Brett John (@BRETTEDWARDJOHN) March 29, 2017
— Stephen Marshall #FBPE (@StephenMNewport) March 29, 2017
Hamilton has form
It is staggering that Hamilton has found re-election in Wales, having left English politics in such disgrace. As The Mirror reports:
[An] inquiry found he had been paid to lobby for outside interests and not declared it; stayed at Fayed’s Paris Ritz without registering it; deliberately misled his own party; received over £25,000 and asked for cash to avoid tax.
His co-accused MP apologised and retired gracefully from politics. Hamilton, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, insisted he was innocent.
Then in 1997 al-Fayed claimed Hamilton had been paid £110,000 and Harrods gift vouchers, and a few months later the disgraced MP lost his seat to white-suited journalist Martin Bell.
True to form, Hamilton sued.
The case was backed with £410,000 from the Earl of Portsmouth, Gyles Brandreth and Norris McWhirter among others and failed when the jury unanimously decided against him.
With offensive outbursts like the above, it may not be long before Hamilton burns his bridges in Wales, too.
– If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please call the Samaritans for free on 116 123, or contact them here.
– In Wales, write to your Assembly Member to register your complaint against Hamilton’s remarks.
Featured image via screengrab
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?