Monday, 11 December 2017

Mike Read apologises for mock Calypso song

MIKE READ has asked for a calypso he released in support of UKIP to be withdrawn.

The radio presenter, who lives in Mill Lane, Henley, was accused of racism for singing the track in a mock-Caribbean accent.

The song consists of seven verses made up of couplets such as: “Leaders committed a cardinal sin, open the borders let them all come in” and “illegal immigrants in every town, stand up and be counted Blair and Brown.”

Party leader Nigel Farage, who the lyrics claim “likes his fags and beer”, urged supporters to buy it and get it to the top of the charts.

Other lyrics included: “Oh yes, when we take charge, and the new prime minister is Farage” and “now I like Nigel, he’s a friend of mine, but he appears more than Dimbleby on Question Time.”

Read initially defended the song but later apologised and said he had asked his record label Angel Air to pull it from sale.

However, it was still available for sale on the internet for 79p yesterday and was the second best-selling single on Amazon’s pop charts, ahead of entries by Pharrell Williams, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and One Direction.

Read said he had written the song, called UKIP Calypso, for an appearance at one of the party’s gala dinners earlier this year.

Afterwards, he was persuaded to record it as a fund-raising single under the name The Independents.

MPs criticised the lyrics and the use of the accent.

Labour MP David Lammy told the Guardian: “UKIP’s claim that they are not a racist party gets more and more incredible with every scandal.”

Read, who presents the weekday afternoon show on BBC Radio Berkshire, said on Tuesday: “I did it for a bit of fun and had no intention of offending anyone, so I apologise if anyone was upset.

“I just had a look at UKIP’s manifesto and wrote something based on that as a political satire, rather like something Private Eye would do.

“They said we should stick it out there as a few people might buy it, not realising it would go the way it has.

“I chose to do it as a calypso because that genre was commonly used for satire back in the day. You can’t really sing it in a Surrey accent.

“I spend a lot of time out in the Caribbean and work and sing with the tourist board there — I haven’t got a racist bone in my body.

“I hope people will take it in the spirit in which it was intended but nowadays people are easily offended over things we used to laugh about.

“It seems they’re always ready to be offended on someone else’s behalf.

“Quite frankly, at the moment I’m not too concerned about whether it gets to number 1 or not. I’m rather hoping it will all go away.”

Later, he added: “If anyone was even remotely hurt by it then I completely apologise and I know Mr Farage agrees with that. It was entirely unintentional.”

A UKIP spokesman said the proceeds would donated to the Red Cross’ Ebola outreach programme.

However, the charity said it was unable to accept donations from a political party.

A UKIP spokesman said: “This is Mike’s song and it is obviously his decision what to do with it. We do think it is a shame that he has been treated so harshly by many in the ‘right on’ media but we respect his decision.

“We thought it was just a bit of fun, as did thousands of people, evidenced by how well it has been selling.

“Were it not for the synthetic outrage, the song would have generated a lot of money for charity It’s a pity those so concerned with political correctness have trodden all over this.”

The BBC said Read had not broken its rules on political impartiality by recording the song.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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