Reform UK suspends Scots candidates for ‘vile and offensive’ remarks 6

Reform UK suspends Scots candidates for ‘vile and offensive’ remarks

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party has suspended two Scottish general election candidates after a Ferret investigation found posts by prominent far right figures and hateful comments about trans people were shared on their social media accounts.

Reform candidates standing in Scottish constituencies in the next UK general election include Stephen McNamara who is described as a “proud tax avoider” in his Twitter bio. McNamara said trans people have a “severe mental illness” and that their “days are numbered”.

An account belonging to David McNabb, a fellow candidate, shared a video from far right commentator Katie Hopkins, and another post which said first minister Humza Yousaf should not be able to hold a rugby trophy because he is “more Pakistani than Scottish.”

Reform said it had suspended both candidates and launched an “immediate investigation” after The Ferret brought their comments to light.

Another candidate’s social account made derogatory remarks about Catholics and benefit claimants, and described Scottish nationalists as Nazis.

The Ferret can also reveal that Reform UK’s Scotland organiser is a former director of a lobby group set up to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change.

Reform, a right-wing populist party founded by Farage and led by Richard Tice, is yet to make an electoral breakthrough north of the border, but has vowed to contest every seat in Scotland, England and Wales at the next general election.

The Ferret looked into public comments made by those which the party lists have chosen to stand in Scottish constituencies so far.

Remarks from Reform’s Scots candidates

An account belonging to Stephen McNamara, who was selected as the candidate for Kilmarnock and Louden, has made dozens of posts advocating gun ownership. In 2023, he apparently replied to a post featuring a clip of a BBC interview with a trans person, and commented: “Their days are numbered. Just like the days of trans people are numbered…”

In the same year, McNamara’s account branded three Scottish equalities organisations as “tax payer funded peadophile (sic) services.”

A response to a 2023 tweet from LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, which challenged perceived transphobia in the media, said: “Time to ‘Stonewall’ the absurdity that being trans is normal. It’s not. You’re all mentall (sic) ill and need psychiatric treatment.”

In February, an X profile attributed to David McNabb, the party’s candidate for Mid Dunbartonshire, shared another user’s post, which included an image of Yousaf – who was born in Glasgow to Pakistani parents – holding a cup won by Scotland’s rugby team alongside his wife. It included the comment: “Someone should have taken that off of him and shown both of them out the door. He’s more Pakistani than Scottish.”

McNabb’s account also shared a video from the far right commentator, Katie Hopkins, which accused the UK legal system of treating fellow far right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, unfairly.

Alastair Majury is a former Tory Stirling councillor who, in 2015, reportedly used a social media account to deride benefit claimants, make derogatory remarks about Catholics and said the term Nazi is “an accurate description” of Scottish nationalists.

He was listed as a Scottish candidate in the caption of a photo taken at Reform’s Spring conference in February. Reform told The Ferret that “the case of Mr Majury is historic and was dealt with whilst he was a Conservative councillor”.

However, Majury told The Ferret he was not a Reform candidate.

He claimed that following media reports about his social media activity, “false and malicious” allegations were made about him and that he was cleared by “every single investigation that I was an active participant in”. The former councillor claimed to have left the Scottish Tory party due to “toxic culture”, “bullying and victim blaming”.

He added: “I disagreed with the Scottish Conservatives’ bizarre media approach of not contesting the allegations as it, and I quote, would ‘blow over in a couple of weeks, if we don’t challenge it’.

“Undergoing trial by media and that living hell meant the Conservatives forced me to say things that were not accurate whilst I was in a vulnerable state and not of fully fit mind and body.”

Alastair Majury (Image: Stirling Observer)

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “Mr Majury made an unreserved apology in 2017 for his previous unacceptable social media activity. He left the Scottish Conservatives in 2022 after he failed to satisfactorily complete the party’s vetting and selection process in place to ensure candidates are suitable to stand for election.”

Kenneth Morton, the candidate for Angus and Perthshire Glens, apparently reshared a 2023 post via his X account, which said: “The alleged climate crisis is the most expensive and devastating lie of all time.”

Alan Melville, a former UKIP candidate, is standing for Reform in Edinburgh North and Leith. In 2015, he was accused of spitting at a Green activist. Melville denied the accusation, claiming he instead made a gesture that resembled spitting.

Links to climate change denial

Martyn Greene is Reform UK’s Scotland organiser and has stood for the party in Scottish elections. He is a former director and administrator of the Scientific Alliance, which academics, scientists and others have branded as a climate change sceptic outfit.

Greene held the role for the Edinburgh-registered company between 2019 and 2020. 

In 2005, the UK Government’s former chief scientific adviser, the late-Lord Bob May, described the group as “a lobby of professional sceptics who opposed action to tackle climate change”.

A document co-published by the Scientific Alliance “plays up the uncertainties surrounding climate change science, playing down the likely impact that it will have”, May claimed. “It contrasts starkly with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s most reliable source of information on the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Remarks were ‘vile and offensive’

Comments from Reform’s Scotland candidates were slammed by other parties.

“There is absolutely no place in politics for these kind of vile and offensive comments, and that is why people across Scotland have never elected anyone with such extreme views,” said an SNP spokesperson.

Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman said: “The prejudice, bigotry and transphobia being pushed by these candidates are taken from some of the ugliest parts of the internet and the far right. They have no place in our politics let alone in parliament.

“Parties like Reform seem to be fixated on targeting, smearing and scapegoating often very vulnerable people and groups, so it is no wonder that these individuals feel so at home there.

“But the problem is far greater than Reform. These candidates are just drawing on the broader reactionary bile that is at the heart of the culture war that far too many politicians as well as parts of our media are determined to fight.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat MP, Christine Jardine, said Reform “don’t seem to have any vetting or quality control at all”.

She added: “Nigel Farage and Richard Tice need to make clear that these types of views have no place in our politics and that they will not tolerate conspiracy theorists, anti-Catholic slurs and climate deniers.

“If all they can offer is fracking and a home for far right activists, then I think the people of Scotland will rightly send them packing at the ballot box.”

A Reform UK spokesperson said: “The party has launched an immediate investigation into Mr’s McNabb and McNamara who have been suspended pending the result of that investigation.”

They added: “Reform Scotland is proud to oppose the calamity that are the Net Zero policies, driven by both the governments in Westminster and Holyrood that do nothing for the global environment but drive working people in Scotland out of jobs and into penury.

“The only impact for the people of Scotland of the climate change agenda supported by the SNP, Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats are jobs exported and the elite’s vanity salved. Scotland’s world leading energy sector is being decimated by this wrong headed drive to make politicians feel good about themselves.”

Header image thanks to Gage Skidmore via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

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