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Ukip leader Nigel Farage says comedian Al Murray's bid for Thanet South seat could backfire

Ukip leader Nigel Farage says comedian Al Murray's decision to stand in Thanet South at the election risks offending voters and could backfire.

The comedian announced last week he intended to stand in the Thanet South seat where Mr Farage is hoping to become MP, in the guise of his alter ego the pub landlord.

In a video outlining his decision, the comedian - in the character of the pub landlord - said he would be standing for the Free United Kingdom Party because it was time "for a bloke waving a pint offering commonsense solutions."

Al Murray will contest the seat in South Thanet
Al Murray will contest the seat in South Thanet

His pledges included reducing the price of beer to a penny a pint and getting Kent County Council to take over Greece, saying that it would at least ensure the bins got emptied.

Ukip joked at the time that it would mean there would be some "serious competition" in the seat and Mr Farage himself reacted by saying he welcomed more satire in politics and tweeted "the more the merrier."

But the party leader, who was in Ramsgate on Friday for the first in a series of public meetings leading up to May, said the comedian's decision could backfire.

"If he turns up in Thanet and does his act as the patriotic pub landlord, people might think he is laughing at them. While his caricature is very funny there are a lot of people who he might actually offend."

Nigel Farage gets a grilling from Gogglebox couple
Nigel Farage gets a grilling from Gogglebox couple

He also questioned why the comedian was standing, asking if he was standing as his alter ego the pub landlord or as someone who is distantly related to David Cameron.

His comments were echoed by the the Green Party candidate Ian Driver, who said: "True, Murray’s candidature may provide huge comic potential, which might undermine Ukip's angry Little England appeal, but conversely irony and satire can sometimes lend credibility to the target."

He added: "The cynic in me suggests that this is more about reviving a stalled career on the back of Thanet South’s voters than a serious effort to engage in the politics of one of the most deprived parliamentary constituencies in the country."

Mr Farage said he would be stepping up his campaign in Thanet South amid some criticism that he had not been seen much.

His visit on Friday heralded the start of a number of public meetings in the constituency while the local party will shortly open a new office in the town centre.

Mr Farage said that his involvement as party leader in three by-elections last year, including the one in Rochester and Strood, had "delayed the start of my campaign."

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