UKIP leaders strode into a political storm after one of their local election candidates blasted Dudley’s biggest celebrity.
Comments on social network Twitter by William Henwood, a party candidate in Enfield, north London, saying Lenny Henry should “go and live in a black country” if he wanted to be with more black people, sparked a furious reaction.
Mr Henwood posted his comments in reply to remarks by Dudley-born Lenny suggesting there should be more people from ethnic minorities on British TV.
The gaffe prompted an angry reaction from one of UKIP’s top men in the borough.
Bill Etheridge, UKIP West Midlands European election candidate and parliamentary candidate for Dudley North, said: “I am enraged by the vile and repulsive comments made about Dudley’s own Lenny Henry.
“I publicly call on him to apologise, in lieu of that I wish to apologise myself to Mr Henry and all those, like myself, who were disgusted by the vile statements. UKIP is a non-racist, non-sectarian party.”
In the wake of the row over his comments it emerged yesterday (April 29) evening that Mr Henwood had resigned from UKIP, a decision welcomed by Mr Etheridge.
He said: “There was no alternative for him to go after what he said, the bloke has done the right thing.”
Mr Henwood’s tweet came to light just hours after UKIP leader Nigel Farage toured Dudley on April 25.
During his visit he fielded questions about a previous allegedly racist remark by another UKIP candidate, Andre Lampitt.
Mr Farage said: “LIB Dem, Labour and the Conservatives have all sorts of wierdos that stand for them so we haven’t got the monopoly on stupidity in UKIP.
“Because we are a threat to the establishment, our voluntary party has been put under a level of scrutiny that I don’t think any political party has seen before.”
UKIP’s Dudley chief believes debates about colour should be a thing of the past.
Dean Perks, chairman of Dudley and Halesowen UKIP, said: “I don't agree with either's comments and to make a statement in this day and age based on colour is somewhat sad. That goes for both parties. We are in 2014 and to single out people based on colour is something we should only read about in history books.
“As a Dudley boy born and bred I think Lenny Henry has put Dudley on the map in many ways and has during his career raised massive amounts for charity which must be recognised. He is one of Dudley's favourite sons along with the likes of Duncan Edwards.
“I do believe Dudley's racially diverse population makes it a better place. We don't have the same sort of community division they have in some cities. In Dudley our communities are made up of different ethnicities, races and religions who live together peacefully.”
A spokesman for Lenny Henry told the News the comedian and actor was unavailable for comment however the star has also been using Twitter to make his point.
On April 27 he tweeted: “Loving the 'but hang on, Lenny IS actually from the Black Country' rejoinders…priceless…thanks for having my back...”