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Don't call Ukip racist - Farage

Nigel Farage has sought to counter claims that his UK Independence Party is racist, accusing sections of the media of stirring up hatred against them.

At a rally in central London, the Ukip leader appeared on a platform alongside a number of the party's black and ethnic minority candidates - including former boxer Winston McKenzie - to reject accusations that it has become a home for racists.

"Let this be Ukip's Clause IV moment," he told cheering supporters, in a reference to Tony Blair's famous announcement that he was scrapping Labour's commitment to nationalisation.

"I don't care what you call us but from this moment on, please, do not ever call us a racist party. We are not a racist party."

Mr Farage acknowledged that comments by a number of the party's candidates had caused embarrassment, but said they had been wrongly held up by the media as representing the views of the party as a whole.

"There will always be in any system a few people who creep over the line and cause us embarrassment. I would rather the 10 people - out of 2,234 (candidates) - who said things that are either stupid or offensive in some case - I'd rather it hadn't happened," he said.

"The result of this has been huge sections of the British media defended their friends in the so-called main parties and the offensive, idiotic statements made by this handful of people have been lifted up and presented to the Great British public as if they represent the view of this party, which they do not. They never have and they never will."

There was a noisy demonstration by anti-racism protesters outside the rally venue in Westminster. A small number of hecklers managed to infiltrate the meeting but were swiftly ejected by stewards.

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