Waving goodbye to the far-right
Last month Jim Dowson walked out on Britain First. In an exclusive interview with Matthew Collins and Nick Lowles, he explains why he is turning his back on Britain’s far right
We’re driving through the County Down countryside past slim, stone cottages. The sun is out and we’re only twenty minutes from the hustle and bustle of Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast. What should be a pleasant drive in the countryside is clouded by trepidation and a nervous navigation through country lanes. Eventually our satnav coughs to life and we have arrived at a small country pub covered in Union Jack bunting.
There is no flag dispute here. This is the heart of rural, Protestant Northern Ireland. My colleague and I should have nothing to fear, we are both, after all, bespoke English gentlemen. But once inside our accents sound flat and loud and seem to carry far too far across the panelled bar where stony red faces are glued to the news on television. Above the television, a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II hangs beguilingly.
That we got this far is an accomplishment. We’d been diverted off the Shankill Road as our host had something of an apparition that impending death awaited either him or us the further up the road we drove. It’s a reoccurring theme. Not long before that we also diverted off another busy road – this time bedecked with the Irish tricolour, as sitting in the traffic there with him would be most definitely an invitation to an early grave. So we ended up heading for the relative safety of the hills.
In the pub we’re ushered briskly into a back room. Our host by the way, is Jim Dowson.
Yes, it’s that Jim Dowson: the hardline Ulster Loyalist who built up the British National Party (BNP) and then knocked it down amid kidnappings, alleged gun-toting, death threats and cars being run off the road. He then founded Britain First (BF) as some kind of Christian Militia preparing for Armageddon.
Dowson is delighted we’re here. It’s not lost on him that on the day we meet, thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to the mountains, being chased by murderous Jihadists hell-bent on beheading them or burying them alive. “This,” opens Dowson, “is our own doing. The work of liberal Marxist appeasement of Islamic fundamentalism.” He crashes down his glass on the small wooden table behind which he has taken position. Other than that, he’s happy to see us. Of course, he wears a flat cap and the standard garb of a man about to go shooting animals in the fields behind us. “You and I have met before,” he says leaning across the table as if about to jab me in the chest.
We have indeed. They were for all of us, the best of times, the worst of times.
Barely a week has passed since Dowson made newspaper headlines by pulling the proverbial plug on Britain First and leaving his protégé Paul Golding to carry on travelling the country invading mosques and intimidating the imams inside them. Dowson’s disciplined militia of God-fearing men and women had descended into beer-swilling racist bullies before his very eyes. “I’d had my doubts, but I did ten days on tour with them in July and I put my hands up. They were no better than the BNP or the English Defence League (EDL). They were looking to start a war and I think I’d moved to a position of hoping we could avert a war. Of course, the war is inevitable I suppose, but there are no good Muslims in Golding’s eyes and I came to the conclusion that the English are a lost race, an almost totally lost cause.”
Shocked by Dowson’s very public resignation, Britain First promised they would stop invading mosques as Dowson had requested. Then, stung by the interview he gave the Daily Mirror and then his own recorded farewell, Golding led his followers straight back to another mosque. “You know, Nick Griffin warned me, that boy Golding would get me into trouble.”
That Dowson should want to avoid trouble or controversy is an eye opener. The bespectacled “country gent” has courted controversy for nearly thirty years with a series of often vulgar stunts. Researching the HNH publication into Britain First Army of the Right that we published in June of this year, turned up associations with the likes of Roberto Fiore, Martin Webster, senior British fascists and, of course, Loyalist terrorists. He admits BF was “traumatised” by the publication. Golding responded by issuing ridiculous threats to journalists who reprinted or used the details, whilst Dowson found angry evangelical Christians and members of Northern Ireland’s Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist community up in arms.
“When I quit the BNP they dreamt up sex scandals, the usual stuff they dream up. Or money, their [Griffin’s] other obsession. When people question whether you are behaving or acting like a proper Christian and your own community call that into question, you have to take stock.
“I was sitting at home with my kids watching Golding and co. intimidating this little old man in his mosque in Crayford (Kent) and I knew it was not right. You did not have to tell me that. I am a man of faith, it has driven me in many directions that people like you (the “liberal, Marxist left”) do not approve of, but I have always managed to maintain my Christian principles, and that was wholly un-Christian and against everything I thought I had taught them.
“You’re saying it also had racist undertones. To me that was never the intention of BF and it has some non-white members you know ... so I kept telling them, telling them all, ‘get down to one of those black churches where they embrace Christianity, learn something of what we’re about,’ but they really are no different from the BNP and for that I have myself to blame for thinking the English had anything left in them.”
In the BNP in particular, there is a reccurring theme about ‘rebirthing’ the English. That and anti-Zionism appealed to Dowson. “There are some very good people in Britain First, Christian folk I convinced to join because we believe in the Bible.
“[Nick] Griffin just hated Jews. Believe what you want about me, but I have never known a hatred like what the BNP has for Jews.”
There’s an element of “always the last to know” about Dowson’s unfortunate but devastating foray into nazi politics. He openly admits he raised £4 million for the BNP between 2007-2010. The key was Dowson’s religious narrative’s ability to shock and destabilise people. He claims his first fundraising appeal in 2007 brought in £136,000 for the BNP, an amount of money that had Griffin salivating and Dowson believing there was an undercurrent of Christianity, of evangelical salvation, amongst “all the rubbish and Hitler admirers and perverts” that formed the corpus of the beast. That nearly £400,000 he raised could not be effectively accounted for by 2010, claims Dowson, drove him to “peel off” and form a “Christian” group like Britain First.
“They won’t have babies. They can’t have babies. They’re always too drunk or too stupid to have them. There’s no point pointing the finger at immigrants or Muslims coming to your country to replace you if you have failed to keep producing the English you thought you were.
“My sincere belief is that. I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m up in court in Belfast every two weeks being harassed for what I believe in, that my Christianity and my Britishness is under threat from the Godless, the liberals and Marxists.
“Worrying about what colour your countrymen are is an English obsession – not mine.”
As I wrote in Army of the Right, Dowson is driven by extremism. For every predilection that drives him, there is a passage in the Bible he points to as a dire prediction. And then also, “Britain aborts eight million babies per year,” he claims. “Mostly they’re white babies and the racists are not having enough kids of their own to replace them.
“So when Britain First, the EDL and the BNP act like a recruiting tool for the Jihadists, I wash my hands of them. The far right is beyond hope. You, the cultural Marxists, will have to form an alliance with them otherwise you’ll end up on a mountain together.
“I’d like to go to that mosque and meet that imam and apologise for what happened to him. You may not believe it, but I’m one of the good guys.”
And then we’re back out in the sunshine again. “I’m finished with the far-right. I am a proper patriot and Christian,” he barks loudly at us. We wave a bemused goodbye to the self-appointed oracle, driving as we didn’t before, up the Shankill and down the Falls for good measure.
What now for Britain First?
Paul Golding looked unstable. Not just unsteady on his feet lecturing his followers down a video camera, he genuinely looked unsettled and confused. It was a warm Sunday afternoon in July. Jim Dowson had just quit Britain First, the “militia” they’d formed together back in 2011. Golding promised no more mosque invasions, the sole reason he believed his mentor and sugar daddy was pulling out of the controversial group.
A loving political obituary appeared on Britain First’s website, blaming HOPE not hate for Dowson’s decision to “retire” from “politics”. Praise was lavished on Dowson by hundreds of Britain First supporters. The “liberal left” had taken its toll on their visionary founder.
And then the Daily Mirror went to print. Whilst Golding had been leering down the camera, Dowson had been telling the newspaper that he was pulling all funding from the group too. Whilst Golding eulogised over his beloved leader, Dowson was switching off Britain First’s telephone lines.
If now should be the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party, do not expect Paul Golding to lead Britain First through these difficulties. Golding may have been proclaimed leader, but Jim Dowson tied every lace Golding had, restraining him when necessary and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on everything Golding wrote or said.
Golding is just not stable. The BNP even warned Dowson when the two ran off together in 2010. He’s prone to bursts of rage, issuing wild threats and tripping over his own words before they’ve even left his mouth. But he does have others around him who, like him, have bought into the dream. The mask will slip and the group will further degenerate into Golding’s core characteristics: excessive and compulsive behaviour bordering on more extremism and violence. Britain First is going down a plughole, we must prepare ourselves for it to go kicking and screaming.
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