| A guide to|
|God Save the Queen?|
“”... where there's a mosque, there are Muslims.
|—Jayda Fransen showing off her expertise.|
Britain First is a far-right, fascist and British nationalist set of paramilitary thugs masquerading as a political party. They were formed in 2011 by former members of the equally racist and fascist British National Party. The party was founded by a former BNP councillor and member of the National Front Paul Golding and Jim Dowson, an anti-abortion campaigner linked to Ulster loyalist militants. Golding led the party until 2016, when Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen took over the reigns of leadership, in the aftermath of the murder of Jo Cox and under suspicious circumstances.
Britain First campaigns primarily against immigration, multiculturalism and what it sees as the Islamisation of the United Kingdom, and advocates the preservation of traditional British culture, looking back on the good old days when outright racism and segregation was more acceptable. 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 alleged Islamists, and what it describes as "Christian patrols" and "invasions" of British mosques, and has been noted for its online activism. It has contested elections to the House of Commons, the European Parliament and the mayoralty of London, but has not held any elected posts.
On June 16th 2016, a man shouting "Britain First" shot Labour Party MP Jo Cox, who died soon after. Cox had expressed support for both Syrian refugees and the remain campaign in the EU referendum.
- 1 History of the term
- 2 History of the party
- 3 Electoral history
- 4 Protests and actions
- 5 Policies and views
- 6 See also
- 7 References
History of the term
The term "Britain First" was used prominently by Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists in Mosley's "Britain First Rally" in 1939, saying that: "This is a demonstration of 'Britain First' and, therefore, is a demonstration of world peace." It also featured in the masthead of The Blackshirt, a newspaper produced by the Union, and nabbed by the America First Committee, headed by Charles Lindbergh, and more recently by Donald Trump. Additionally, the BNP website uses the phrase extensively, and the openly neo-Nazi November 9th Society ran under the name "British First Party" until 2010. In 2016, the neo-Nazi National Alliance member Thomas Mair killed Labour MP Jo Cox – the last MP to be assassinated in public office since 1990 – after shouting "put Britain first" or "Britain first". Golding was quick to denounce the attackers, unironically saying that you shouldn't judge a group of people by the violence of one man. Needless to say, most people saw the hypocrisy in this defence.
Although the phrase has been used in more moderate right wing circles – in 1970 by Edward Heath discussing British foreign policy goals, the 2010 Conservative document for a proposed British Bill of Rights claiming to "put Britain first" and David Cameron talking about controls on immigration – the use of this phrase in a headline by The Daily Telegraph was criticised by Adam Barnett of Left Foot Forward as a dog whistle for fascists, citing its use in the masthead of The Blackshirt and the modern far-right party.
Interestingly, Britain First tried to register under the name of "Vote British" in the London Mayoral Election, the same slogan openly fascist Oswald Mosley ran under for the General Elections in the late 1930s.
History of the party
Britain First was created by Jim Dowson, who ran a call centre in Dundonald, East Belfast (Northern Ireland), 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. Dowson is a Christian fundamentalist and former Calvinist minister.
Other former officials from the BNP joined Dowson in the formation of Britain First. Paul Golding had been a councillor in Sevenoaks, Kent, in 2009–11 representing the BNP, as well as the BNP's Communications Officer. Golding was briefly expelled from the party for assaulting its only ethnic minority candidate.
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. Despite this, efforts have been made to disassociate with far-right organisations such as the BNP and EDL, with Dowson urging voters not to vote BNP in the 2014 European elections, and Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen and Golding hurrying off EDL supporters at BF marches.
In November 2015, Britain First claimed that its Facebook page had over a million "likes", more than any other British political party and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron. HOPE not hate estimates that two million people per day interact with material from the Britain First Facebook page. At the end of November, Facebook briefly closed the Britain First page for breaching its community guidelines. The group also had to remove two photos published without permission. It later (without any sense of irony or hypocrisy) called Facebook "fascist".
National People's Party
In November 2011, Britain First announced the registration of a political party, the "National People's Party" (not to be confused with the openly white nationalist group of the same name), a protest group co-founded by representatives of the English Defence League, the English Democrats and the South East Alliance. Golding was named as leader.
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 leader of the Protestant Coalition 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 Belfast City Hall flag protests. 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.
Departure of Jim Dowson
“”No matter how many times I told [Paul Golding] I did not want decent Muslims intimidated, he just continued doing it ... I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I tried, you cannot escape from the fact that the group is being overrun with racists and extremists.
In a stopped clock moment on July 2014, founder Jim Dowson left Britain First. The Daily Mirror and The Independent wrote that Dowson left because of the party's "mosque invasions", which he considered to be "provocative and counterproductive", "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", although this doesn't really set a great historical precedence.
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 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. The ASA published a ruling on 4 March 2015 upholding complaints about use of the crown symbol, and about selling merchandise implying that it was British-made.
2014 European elections
Britain First registered with the Electoral Commission on 10 January 2014.
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 "Brillo Pad" 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 (Dowson was standing for Scotland and Golding for Wales), to instead vote for the English Democrats or the UK Independence Party (UKIP). In a stopped clock moment, Dowson warned against voting for the BNP, claiming that the BNP's Nick Griffin (then party leader) has been a liability to the "patriotic" movement, showing a clip of Griffin denying the Holocaust ever happened and mentioning the colour bar on BNP membership. 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%, more than the BNP).
Rochester and Strood by-election, 2014
Britain First stood its first parliamentary candidate for the Rochester and Strood by-election on 20 November 2014, nominating its Deputy Leader, Jayda Fransen, the granddaughter of immigrants. Jayda had formerly been involved with the English Defence League (a similar Islamophobic outfit), but left due to its association with hooliganism and violence.
The party had been active in nearby Gillingham in opposition to a planned mosque.
Britain First's campaign for the by-election drew attention when the party uploaded a photo of Fransen together with local activists from the UK Independence Party (UKIP). UKIP responded by saying that the activists were not aware of the implications of the photograph, while Fransen said that the UKIP activists asked for the photo and that she was under the impression there were strong similarities between the two parties.
Royal Mail refused to deliver a leaflet for the party because it believes it to be illegal. The company said it could refuse to carry election mail if it considered the contents threatening or abusive.
UKIP won the by-election. Britain First finished 9th of 13 candidates, with 56 votes (0.14%), finishing below the Monster Raving Loony Party (with 151 votes, 0.38%) and above the Patriotic Socialist Party (with 33 votes, 0.08%). At the count, the BBC News reporter Nick Robinson was criticised for taking a selfie with Fransen, stating that he did not know who she was and that he would check before appearing in any future photographs.
London mayoral election, 2016
“”There was quite a sad moment where Paul Golding, who's the head of Britain First, he turned his back on Sadiq Khan during his acceptance speech. I thought it’d be good if he'd accidentally turned to face Mecca.
|—Frankie Boyle, Have I Got News For You?|
On 27 September 2015, Paul Golding declared that he would stand as a candidate in the following year's London mayoral election against the Muslim Labour MP Sadiq Khan. In a Facebook post on the decision, Jayda Fransen wrote that the party's "pro-EU, Islamist-loving opponents" will "face the wrath of the Britain First movement ... We will not rest until every traitor is punished for their crimes against our country. And by punished, I mean good old fashioned British justice at the end of a rope!"
In the event BF scored a massive 1%, and Golding, unable to bear the fact that Khan won the election, turned his back during Khan's victory speech. This action was in no way the petty sulk of somebody without a shred of either decency or dignity. Following Khan's victory, BF issued a "direct action campaign against Muslim elected officials", describing Khan – who has received death threats from actual extremists due to supporting same-sex marriage – as an "Islamic terrorist", viewing all Muslims as "occupiers" within the United Kingdom.
Protests and actions
Deceitful online tactics
In 2014, political blogger Thomas G. Clark wrote a letter to Peter Wardle (Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission) following the condemnation by the family of murdered soldier Lee Rigby to use "Remember Lee Rigby" on their European Election ballots, and criticised the party's social media campaign. As with other far-right groups such as the British National Party, BF often uses images intended to go viral in order to bolster support and donations for the party (the specific example Clark gives is a post regarding animal cruelty, but there are many, many more out there).
In 2014, following a regular purge of fake accounts used to garner page likes, BF's likes dropped from 500,000 to 350,000 in a matter of minutes, and it has been alleged that the party spent something in the region of £1,200 on this fake support.
Action against Islamists
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, and threatened to take away his Muslamic ray guns.[citation NOT needed] The Daily Mail claimed that the video had instead resulted in Choudary and his family being placed under police protection.
On 5 January 2015, Chelmsford Magistrates Court found Paul Golding guilty of harassing the sister-in-law of a man allegedly linked to the 7 July bombings, having mistakenly turned up at her house instead of his. He was fined £325 and a further £100 for wearing a political uniform.
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 allegedly 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 invaded ten Bradford mosques, as well as ones 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, the MP for Bradford West 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 2016, the UK High Court declared that Britain First is to be banned from every mosque in England and Wales and effectively banned from Luton after causing "community tensions" in the area, which may possibly finish the organisation altogether, according to Golding. This ruling comes after a failed attempt by Bedfordshire Police to ban the group from Luton town centre in June 2015.
In August 2014, after a report which revealed that over 1,400 children 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".
Relationship to UKIP
The UK Independence Party rejects associations with Britain First, stating "On the fringes of our politics are nutters and we don't want them anywhere near us". Despite this, the two parties often share more common ground than either would like to admit. The party has endorsed Kipper and former Tory Mark Reckless, saying "UKIP AT THE BALLOT BOX, BRITAIN FIRST ON THE STREETS - A WINNING COMBINATION!", and have also both exploited the Rotherham sex abuse scandals into anti-Islamic rhetoric in their posters. Similarities that the parties have include:
- Reddit – if you search for r/BritainFirst on Reddit, one is promptly redirected to r/ukipparty.
- TAKING OUR COUNTRY BACK FROM BRUSSELS SPROUTS! – BF are against the EU, seeing it as a "loony left" venture, decreasing national sovereignty and expensive for the British taxpayer, exactly the same as UKIP does. I don't think fellow "loony leftwinger" Tony Benn would agree that the EU is a socialist project...
- Immigration – the degree to which BF is opposed to immigration is debatable (they are officially opposed to all immigration), with the idea of an Australian style "points system" being floated around for a while – a policy which UKIP completely agrees with.
- Capital punishment – although Nigel Farage is personally opposed to the idea, high-ranking MEPs and the vast majority of their voters do so. BF are unequivocally in favour of re-introducing capital punishment.
However, UKIP and BF differ in various ways, namely:
- Islam – BF claim that this is the "key difference" between the two parties, with UKIP at least not having an official policy on banning Islam – UKIP have previously joined the "ban the burka" brigade, but then opposed the ban on allegedly libertarian grounds  before changing its mind back again for the 2017 general election.
Defence of Nigel Farage
In May 2014, Britain First announced that it would be deploying "hundreds of ex-British Forces" alongside "several armoured ex-army Land Rovers" to protect the UKIP leader Nigel Farage after he had been opposed on the street by supporters of Scottish independence. Whilst acknowledging that UKIP and Britain First were "rival" right-wing organisations, it stated that the two parties remain "patriots together" and as such it was willing to "put our men and our resources at UKIP's disposal".
In March 2015, a group of anti-UKIP protesters went to a pub where Farage and his family were dining and allegedly scared his children into running away. Later that month Britain First went to that group's meeting in London "to give these traitors their comeuppance". No injuries were reported, but a 48-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault.
Jews in London
In 2015, Britain First offered "solidarity patrols" in areas of London with high Jewish populations while blaming anti-Semitism on Islam. The Community Security Trust, an organisation against antisemitism, has warned Jews not to become involved with Britain First, and has likened this policy to similar ones by the English Defence League and the BNP, saying that all of these groups were opposing Muslims more than supporting Jews.
Britain First visited the French port of Calais in summer 2015, during a period of attempted migration to the United Kingdom via the town. Afterwards, the party was approached by the documentary maker Ross Kemp to feature in a documentary film about the contemporary rise in nationalism. The party rejected Kemp's offer, calling him a "leftwing actor", while a producer responded by saying that Kemp listens to all opinions, unlike most Biffers. At the same time, the organisation were recorded for a BBC Three documentary titled "We Want Our Country Back".
Policies and views
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". The party self-styles itself as "loyalist".
Britain First has described climate change as "another leftwing, anti-capitalist fraud foisted on us to de-industrialise the west." The party also wishes to withdraw from the United Nations and ban the BBC.
BF is not a racist party in any way, shape, or form, alluding to the typical go-to "Islam isn't a race" argument to back this up. To prove this point, the page on their website dealing with alleged race issues has loads of pictures of black and minority ethnic people, in order to prove that Biffers have black friends. The party wants to issue a complete ban on the term "racism" ever being used in the media (especially towards its policies), reiterating the old far-right trope that the "word 'racism' was invented by a communist mass murderer, Leon Trotsky, to silence European opposition to 'multi-culturalism', so we do not recognise the validity of this made-up word", a claim which is common in far-right circles – and is absolute bullshit, in case you didn't already know.
Its claimed objective is "to save this country and our people from the EU, politically correct, multicultural insanity that is now engulfing us". It said in 2015 that Muslims are the only community not integrating, and that "Jews don't cause any problems", which must be a change from Golding's days down at the old NF. However, this has led some übercrazies to claim that Golding is a Zionist, shekel-grabbing stooge.
- BBC 3 documentary "We Want Our Country Back" (6 October 2015, via YouTube)
- VICE documentary "London's Holy Turf War" (22 April 2014, via YouTube)
- What happened to Jayda Fransen? Exposing Britain First – discusses claims over Deputy Leaders' childhood, religious convictions, and qualifications. Jayda Fransen's timeline – What she claims versus want we actually know
- See the Wikipedia article on Paul Golding.
- See the Wikipedia article on Jim Dowson.
- Britain is full
- We Want Our Country Back, 5:26
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- Adam Bienkov. "Britain First: The violent new face of British fascism". politics.co.uk.
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- Gable, Gerry (1 December 2016). "More questions than answers: a Searchlight investigation". Searchlight. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- Use on ExposingBF blog. Use by HOPE not hate national co-ordinator Matthew Collins is also quoted on their own website in a diatribe against the commie BBC muslamics.
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- As sure we are of the
Nazi-sympathisingpeaceful intentions of this letter, we know what happens next...
Full speech of rally available online. Accessed 23 January 2015
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- Watch him squirm when grilled about this image by Andrew "Brillo Pad" Neil on the Daily Politics here. It's worth noting that, at this time, Golding was still a card-carrying member of the National Front, an unabashedly neo-Nazi organisation in Britain. Political Scrapbook
- BNP money man quits after model accuses him of groping her in hotel room. Daily Record. 31 October 2010.
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- We Want Our Country Back, 3:47
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- A comparison of the sites as of 24 April 2013 is shown here.
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- "Vote 2014 - Wales". BBC News.
- "Vote 2014 - Scotland". BBC News.
- We Want Our Country Back, 9:28: "...I'm the granddaughter of immigrants..."
- We Want Our Country Back, 3:30: "Jayda told me she used to be part of the EDL, but left because of their reputation for drink-fuelled violence."
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- Medway Council: "Rochester and Strood Constitu ency Parliamentary By-Election 20 November 2014".
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- Britain First candidate turns his back during Sadiq Khan's speech
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- "WELCOME TO THE 'LOONY LEFT' EUROPEAN UNION!" Britain First. Accessed 26 January 2016.
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- Farage, Nigel. "I'm against the death penalty, but I think we should be free to debate it", The Independent, 14 August 2014. Accessed 26 January 2016.
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- "STAGE 1: BRING BACK CAPITAL PUNISHMENT", Britain First. Accessed 26 January 2016.
- WHERE DOES BRITAIN FIRST AND UKIP DIFFER? ANSWER: ISLAM, Britain First. Accessed 26 January 2016.
- Moseley, Tom. "Ukip's Muslim Veil Ban Policy Has Been Reversed, Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall Says", The Huffington Post, 19 September 2013. Accessed 26 January 2016.
- MacNab, Scott (9 May 2014). "'Armoured cars' offered to Farage in Scotland". The Scotsman.
- "Britain first to deploy armoured patrol vehicles and ex-military volunteers to protect UKIP leader Nigel Farage". Britain First. Archived 30 November 2014.
- Ghert-Zand, Renee (14 February 2015). "British Jews say 'no thanks' to nationalist group's support". The Times of Israel.
- Hopkins, Steven (12 August 2015). "Britain First Reject Ross Kemp Immigration Film, Saying Move Would 'Drag Them Through Gutter'". Huffington Post.
- "BBC Three has big plans, but are young people still watching?". Herald Scotland. 27 August 2015.
- Britain First Statement of Principles
- "Britain First - Climate change/global warming, another". Facebook. Archived 20 January 2016.
- Hopkins, Stephen. "Britain First Reacts To Paris Attacks With 'Ban Islam In UK' Policy At Their Annual Conference" The Huffington Post. 17 November 2015.
- We Want Our Country Back, 8:44: "[Jayda Fransen speaking in radio interview] 'Let's start with the word racist, Jonathan. What race are Muslims? You could be white, you could be black, you could be Asian, it doesn't matter. It's not a race.'"
- "Racism" section on the BF official website. Archived 6 August 2015, accessed 22 January 2016.
- Gander, Kashmira. "Britain First wants the media to stop using the word 'racism'", The Independent, 18 November 2015. Accessed 25 January 2016.
- Debunking fascist myths # 94: Leon Trotsky and 'the invention of racism' myth, Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism, 27 July 2013. Accessed 25 January 2016.
- Such as this from the so-called "Anti-Zionist League", who call the group "Jewish First" and say the organisation is "a fraudulent 'nationalistic' front" and "a setup of the Jewish occupied Government" (AZL: Britain First)