UKIP election candidate Carl Benjamin, who has achieved notoriety for comments made online, held an open forum in Bournemouth town centre on Saturday.

Mr Benjamin, who goes by the pseudonym Sargon of Akkad on YouTube, on which he has nearly a million subscribers, is among the candidates for the South West constituency in Thursday's European Parliament elections.

A "campaigner against political correctness", Mr Benjamin's selection by Ukip proved controversial after it was revealed he had, in 2016, tweeted Labour MP Jess Philips that he "wouldn't even rape you", which has been called threatening.

He has said he was both joking and making a political comment in response to Ms Philips' behaviour in the Commons and on social media.

On Saturday, he spoke with supporters and detractors in the Square.

Asked by the Echo how he would explain Ukip's fortunes – the party won the 2014 Euro elections but is currently below fifth place in most polls – he said: "I don't think the polls are entirely reliable.

"There has been a non-stop media smear campaign against us. Ukip is not a Westminster party, we are regular people who want to get involved in politics, and there has been a huge amount of kick back from the establishment as that scares them."

Asked what Ukip had to offer voters, he said: "We need to start talking about certain issues, most of which are listed in our manifesto, most of which are being ignored by the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats, and it is detrimental to the country."

He listed free speech, Brexit and radical Islam as key issues "off the top of my head".

Mr Benjamin said his tour of the region had been "wonderful" and he had had "amazing conversations".

Regarding his controversial comments he said political correctness was "a deliberate block" placed in the way of people entering politics.

"Regular people think things which are un-PC, they aren't part of the Westminster consensus, most people aren't like that," he said.

In Weymouth the previous day he had told the crowd: "We shouldn’t be having MEP elections, we should have left the European Union.

"I think this is a core democratic principle that we honour a referendum. When parliament gives sovereignty back to the people in the form of a referendum, I think that’s important and that it has to be honoured."