Ukip leader Nigel Farage, below, ducked out of a street rally organised by his party in south London, after the event descended into farce.
The eurosceptic party had promised to bring a “strong and positive message” to the streets of south London yesterday with a “bold and vibrant” carnival-style campaign event.
But a steel band, Endurance Steel, which had been hired to play, walked out amid reports they had not been told they would be playing for Ukip.
And Ukip candidate Winston McKenzie said that Mr Farage would not be attending because of security concerns, after activists clashed with protesters.
The former boxer, who is standing in the South Norwood ward of Croydon Borough Council on Thursday, risked alienating local voters by branding Croydon unsafe and a “dump”.
Romanians carrying banners about Nazis argued on Croydon High Street with party members about Mr Farage’s remark last week that people would be right to be uncomfortable about Romanian neighbours moving in.
And anti-Ukip demonstrators waved placards reading “Ukip racist sexist homophobic scum”, “Nigel Farage racist scum” and “We are Romanians, and we don’t feel comfortable with your racism”.
The so-called street party was marked throughout by peaceful but noisy arguments among scrums of people outside the Whitgift shopping centre, watched over by police and surrounded by a large pack of press reporters awaiting the leader’s arrival.
After about an hour of confusion, Mr McKenzie confirmed that Mr Farage would not attend, telling reporters: “He’s a responsible family man and political party leader. Certain situations you have to avoid.
“It’s time people woke up and realised this country is being disenfranchised.”
He added: “Croydon is unsafe and a dump. I want to thank all of the patriotic people in this country.”