Among the large pile of awful news flooding the UK, from the fuel and food crisis, a struggling NHS, a Tory government waging war on the poor to the stain of GB News on British TV, just to name a few, it doesn’t seem like it can get any worse. Well, here’s some more bad news. Another far-right obstacle is on the horizon: Britain First is back, and it’s once again a political party.
Far-right group Britain First, which has plagued the political discourse of the country with its Islamophobia and racism, has officially re-registered as a political party after the Electoral Commission approved its application. First becoming a political party in 2010, this reinstatement comes four years after its deregistration in 2017 for failing to renew its status. Yes, that’s the reason. Not its bigoted views but paperwork. In case you’re still a bit shocked, the Electoral Commission does not examine or take into account a body’s political opinions when concluding on its registration as a party.
It has been reported that the official application made by the group “met the legal criteria” for registration; this approval occurred despite Britain First’s leader, Paul Golding, holding a number of previous convictions for hate crimes and even a terror offence. In a recent email sent to its supporters on the comeback, the alt-right group wrote, “This is a stupendous victory for the Britain First movement… Although our street activities will continue, this day marks the birth of Britain First as a traditional political party that will take the fight to the establishment through the ballet box.”
“Street activities” is a very mild way of describing the literal terror Britain First has continuously perpetrated. While it failed to renew its status as a political party in 2017, it was a year that became saturated with its escapades. The group became infamous for its Islamophobic and racist rhetoric—particularly targeted against immigrants—that horrifyingly gained it a mass following online, with over 2 million people liking its Facebook page. A following that included the US President, at the time, Donald Trump; his resharing of Islamophobic tweets by Jayda Fransen, Britain First’s deputy leader at the time, gave the group a global platform.
Aside from the many documented racially motivated and ‘mosque invasions’ inspired by the group, just a few months later, both Fransen and Golding were convicted on the crime of religiously-aggravated harassment for targeting innocent Muslims they unjustifiably concluded to be part of an ongoing rape trial. In 2019, Golding was also found guilty for refusing police access to his devices on his return to the UK from a trip to Russia. He was convicted under the Terrorism Act.
Following their convictions, Facebook made the decision in 2018 to take down the group’s page. Citing that it had continuously ignored warnings about its community standards violations, Twitter also suspended the accounts of both Fransen and Golding. While social media giants acted upon these findings, The Independent found that convictions do not prohibit you from being able to register as a political party under current law.
Despite this disgusting track record, a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said, “The application to register Britain First as a political party has been approved. We assessed this application against the criteria set out in law, including consideration of public comments submitted to us. The party’s application met the legal criteria and the party has therefore been registered.”
While it most likely won’t be able to make much of an impact, you never know. In a country where a human rights organisation like Black Lives Matter is vilified, mocked, disbanded and often labelled as a terror group, an actual convicted terror group, Britain First, is allowed to be an active political party. White supremacy strikes again.