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Britain First is a far-right British nationalist political party and movement formed in 2011 by former members of the British National Party. Britain First campaigns primarily against mass immigration and against what it sees as the Islamification of the United Kingdom, instead advocating Christian social conservatism. The group is inspired by Ulster loyalism and has a vigilante wing called the "Britain First Defence Force". It attracted attention by taking direct action such as protests outside homes of Islamists, and what it describes as "Christian patrols" and "invasions" of British mosques. The party was founded by Jim Dowson, an anti-abortion campaigner linked to loyalist militants.
- 1 History
- 2 Protests and actions
- 3 Policies
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Britain First was created by Jim Dowson, who ran a call centre in Dundonald, East Belfast for the British National Party (BNP). Dowson's links with the BNP as a fundraiser ended acrimoniously in October 2010 when he was accused of groping a female activist. A former Calvinist minister, Dowson is a Scottish Christian fundamentalist. Based in Ballygowan, Northern Ireland, he also led an anti-abortion campaign, the UK Life League.
Other former officials from the British National Party joined Dowson in the formation of Britain First. Its current chairman Paul Golding, had been a councillor in Sevenoaks, Kent, in 2009-11 representing the BNP, as well as the BNP's Communications Officer. Britain First was launched through the "British Resistance" website in May 2011. Others involved in Britain First's launch included the former South East regional organiser of the BNP, Andy McBride, and Kevin Edwards, a former BNP councillor and organiser in Wales.
Britain First's Facebook page had 350,000 "likes" in July 2014, making it more popular than the pages of any of Britain's three major political parties. Hope not Hate estimate that two million people per day interact with material from the Britain First Facebook page.
National People's Party
In November 2011, Britain First announced the registration of a political party, the "National People's Party", with Golding named as leader, Edwards as nominating officer and McBride as treasurer. However the Electoral Commission register shows Britain First listed itself from November 2011 as a political party, with the same roles for the three officers, and no current or past listing for a National People's Party, so it is not clear whether the National People's Party has a separate existence. The Britain First website carries a constitution for the Party stating, among other things, that "The campaign group Britain First will... be entitled to put forward a representative to sit on the Standing Committee", a six-person group "tasked with the direction of the Party and running all its affairs".
Northern Ireland offshoot
The principal figures in Britain First, Dowson and Golding, launched a new political party in Northern Ireland in April 2013. Dowson was registered with the Electoral Commission as the Protestant Coalition's leader, and Golding as its treasurer. However, Dowson stated at the launch that the Coalition had no one leader.
Golding had flown into Belfast in December 2012 to help co-ordinate protests over the decision by Belfast City Council to limit the flying of the Union flag over Belfast City Hall. Dowson had been prominent in the protests, and at the time of the launch, was awaiting trial for public order offences, as was another of the Coalition's founders, Willie Frazer.
The website and logo of the Protestant Coalition closely resembled those of Britain First, although neither site explicitly mentioned an organisational link.
2014 European elections
In 2014, the party registered the phrase "Remember Lee Rigby" for use in the 2014 European elections. The chair of the Electoral Commission later issued an apology "for the offence that has been caused" by accepting the registration. When questioned by Andrew Neil on the BBC's Daily Politics of the offence caused to Rigby's mother, Paul Golding said "We apologise to the mother of Lee Rigby, but it was a major act of terrorism, it was a big public event. He was a serving soldier".
Britain First stood candidates for the 2014 European elections in Wales and Scotland. It encouraged English supporters, in the absence of a Britain First candidate, to instead vote for the English Democrats or the UK Independence Party, while warning against voting for the BNP. The party came 8th of 11 in Wales, with 6,633 votes (0.9%), and 7th of 9 in Scotland with 13,639 votes (1.02%). In Scotland, it performed better than the BNP.
Departure of Jim Dowson
In July 2014, founder Jim Dowson left Britain First. The Daily Mirror wrote that Dowson left because of the party's "mosque invasions", which he considered to be “provocative and counterproductive”, as well as “unacceptable and unchristian” and "just as bad" as Anjem Choudary. Paul Golding reacted to this by saying that Britain First was "as far as right-wing organisations go, relatively scandal-free”.
Britain First itself denied the Mirror's story, calling it "chief communist newspaper and lover of all things anti-British". The party claimed to have published a farewell letter from Dowson, in which he cited fatigue and the safety of his family as his reasons to leave.
Use of royal symbols
In August 2014, the Cabinet Office wrote to Britain First requesting that they remove an image of the British crown from their merchandise. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had previously requested that the crown be removed from Britain First's online accounts. In response, Golding called the ASA a "toothless quango with no power which no one takes any notice of" and responded that the group's solicitors had deemed the crown distinct enough to be used without breaching regulations.
Protests and actions
In May 2013, following the murder of Lee Rigby, Britain First released a video threatening to place Islamist cleric Anjem Choudary under citizen's arrest if the Metropolitan Police would not arrest him. The Daily Mail claimed that the video had instead resulted in Choudary and his family being placed under police protection.
In February 2014, Britain First conducted what it called the "Christian Patrol" in an area of Tower Hamlets, East London, with a high Muslim population, to counter continuing Muslim Patrols which had first come to media attention in 2013. Around a dozen or so Britain First activists recorded themselves holding a banner proclaiming "We Are The British Resistance" and emptying cans of beer outside a mosque to "bait" Islamic extremists operating in the area. A video uploaded onto social media showing the event gained national media attention in the UK, and the patrol was condemned by Muslim and Christian leaders in the area.
Entry of mosques and distribution of leaflets and Bibles
In May 2014, members of Britain First entered ten Bradford mosques, as well as in Glasgow, Luton and East London. They made statements of the action of perceived Muslim grooming gangs in the area, accusing the community elders of failing to stop the gangs, while handing out Army Bibles and proselytising Christianity and telling one member to "reject the false prophet Muhammad and read the Bible". They also went to a Labour office to inform them that "they had been warned". In response, Bradford West MP George Galloway said, "This is a grave and national issue. We demand full police action and protection of Mosques and worshippers." Police are investigating.
In July 2014, Britain First entered the Crayford Mosque in South London, demanding that its segregated entrances be removed, with Golding saying, "When you respect women we’ll respect your mosques." A volunteer of the local Muslim association called Britain First, "filthy people creating trouble in our society." Two addresses were raided in police investigation of this entrance, which led Britain First to protest at Bexleyheath Police Station. The group sought to gain publicity by stating that Golding was arrested for this protest, although the Metropolitan Police confirmed that they had spoken with him and no arrests had been made.
In August 2014, after a report which revealed that over 1,400 girls had been sexually abused in Rotherham, mainly by Pakistani men, Britain First protested inside the headquarters of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council with a banner saying "Justice for victims of Muslim grooming".
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Britain First's stated aim is to protect "British and Christian morality", and is "committed to preserving our ancestral ethnic and cultural heritage" while it also "supports the maintenance of the indigenous British people as the demographic majority within our own homeland", that "Genuine British citizens will be put first in housing, jobs, education, welfare and health".
It also campaigns against Islamism, immigration and abortion. Its claimed objective is "to save this country and our people from the EU, politically correct, multicultural insanity that is now engulfing us".
- "About Paul Golding". Britain First. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- "About Lee Cooper". Britain First. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- "Britain First: A Future For British Children". Britainfirst.org. Archived from the original on 23 December 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- Britain First: "Northern Ireland politics rocked by launch of new Unionist/Loyalist political party", press statement (no date). Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- Britain First Statement of Principles
- "European elections: Party-by-party guide". BBC News. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014. "On its website, the party promises to promote a "robust and confrontational" message about the need to leave the European Union, end immigration and put British workers first."
- Kennedy, Dominic (24 May 2014), "The religious zealot who hands Bibles to Muslims", The Times, retrieved 10 July 2014
- Gallagher, Paul (28 May 2013). "Far right extremist group Britain First threatens to arrest Islamist cleric Anjem Choudary". The Independent.
- Bienkov, Adam (19 June 2014), "Britain First: The violent new face of British fascism", politic.co.uk, retrieved 10 July 2014
- "Electoral Commission sorry for extremist party use of Lee Rigby slogan". The Daily Telegraph. 26 April 2014.
- "Britain First: inside the extremist group targeting mosques". Channel 4 News. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Palmer, Ewan (20 May 2014). "Who are Britain First? The Far-Right Party 'Invading' Mosques". International Business Times.
- Gadher, Dipesh (25 May 2014). "Far right invades mosques to hand out Bibles". Sunday Times.
- BNP money man quits after model accuses him of groping her in hotel room. Daily Record. 31 October 2010.
- Exposed: Scottish BNP No.2 unmasked as man behind Britain First Defence Force's sickening invasion of mosques. Daily Record. 26 May 2014.
- Sophie Madden, "Former BNP Councillor Paul Golding heads Britain First nationalist movement", News Shopper, 8 June 2011
- BNP website
- Introducing Britain First British Resistance. 26 May 2011
- Meredith, Charlotte (16 July 2014). "Britain First Fail Dismally In Attempt To Get Leader Arrested, Say He's Been Arrested Anyway". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
- "The Britain First Leadership Team". Britain First. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- "National People's Party official public launch". Britain First. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- Register of political parties at Electoral Commission website
- National People's Party constitution
- Connla Young, "Union flag protesters launch new party", The Irish News, 25 April 2013
- Deborah McAleese, "Former BNP man and Nick Griffin ex-crony Paul Golding flies to Belfast for loyalist flag protest", Belfast Telegraph, 15 December 2012
- A comparison of the sites as of 24 April 2013 is shown here.
- "Electoral Commission Issues Grovelling Apology After Extremist Party, Britain First, Uses Lee Rigby Slogan", Huffington Post, 26 April 2014
- "Lee Rigby's mother outraged after political party allowed to use his name on ballot papers", Manchester Evening News, 26 April 2014
- "Britain First's leader Paul Golding on BNP breakaway". BBC News. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- "Vote 2014: European election candidates for Wales". BBC News. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "Vote 2014: European election candidates for Scotland". BBC News. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- "WHO TO VOTE FOR TOMORROW IF NOT BRITAIN FIRST?". Britain First. Facebook. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- "Vote 2014 - Wales". BBC News. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
- "Vote 2014 - Scotland". BBC News. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- Sommerlad, Nick (27 July 2014). "Britain First founder quits over mosque invasions which attract racists and extremists". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
- McBride, Andrew. ""DON’T BELIEVE THE MEDIA LIES!" – STATEMENT FROM DEPUTY LEADER ANDY MCBRIDE". Britain First. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
- Butler, Sarah (27 August 2014). "Government considers steps against Britain First over use of crown". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
- Robinson, Martin (30 May 2013). "Police rush to home of hate preacher Anjem Choudary to protect him and his family after threats as he blames Cameron's 'crusade' for 'turning young Muslims to terror'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- Moore-Bridger, Benedict (6 February 2014). "Far-Right group filmed on 'patrol' at East End mosque". Evening Standard. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- "Homophobic 'vigilante' video appears online", BBC News London, 22 January 2013
- "London's Holy Turf War". Vice News. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Gover, Dominic (6 February 2014). "London: Far Right Militants Use Ex-Army Jeeps to Mount 'Christian Patrols' in Muslim Districts". International Business Times.
- "Far-right activists hand out Bibles outside mosques in Bradford". The Independent. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
- Dearden, Lizzie (15 July 2014). "Britain First 'battalion' invades mosque demanding removal of 'sexist' entrance signs". The Independent. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- Palmer, Ewan (28 August 2014). "Rotherham Child Abuse Scandal: EDL and Britain First Stage Protests Following 'Appalling' Report". International Business Times. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- In Photos: Terror-Convict Islamists 'Baying For Blood' Square Off Against UK Nationalists Outside London Mosque Breitbart London. 18 April 2014. Accessed 22 June 2014