Britain First (BF) is the brainchild of James Dowson, the man who was once dubbed ‘the person who owned the BNP’.
A shadowy figure in the world of evangelical Protestantism and anti-abortion activity, Dowson made contact with the BNP in 2007 offering his services as a man with a record of get-rich-quick schemes. Originally from Scotland, he’d set himself up in Belfast, Northern Ireland where he took a keen advantage of religious fervour.
Dowson’s anti-abortion activities and close relationship with Loyalist paramilitaries were seen as positive attributes by the BNP’s leadership, who were dazzled by Dowson’s patter and promises of riches.
Nick Griffin eventually moved the entire BNP operation to Belfast – under Dowson’s control – with Griffin’s daughter Jennifer entrusted to Dowson’s care. We dubbed Dowson as Griffin’s consiglieri in 2009 and meanwhile, as the party faltered after the 2010 local and government elections, anti-Griffin factions within the BNP saw Dowson as Griffin’s Achilles’ heel and began campaigning against him.
Dowson and the BNP parted company in October 2010 but it was another six months before BF was formed. In the intervening time Dowson preoccupied himself with trying to undermine the BNP at every opportunity.
In May 2011 Dowson, along with Paul Golding, a former BNP councillor and editor of the BNP’s flagship magazine, announced the formation of a campaign group to protect “British and Christian morality” and sent an internet and glossy mail shot to some 40,000 names that Dowson had allegedly acquired from his time with the BNP.
Hoping to gain an invitation to join rebel BNP MEP Andrew Brons in a new venture, Dowson also sent another glossy brochure attacking a number of high profile BNP officials during the BNP’s July 2011 leadership election. BF was born to attack Griffin.
Close to a thousand people responded to BF’s launch with either cash or membership, but very quickly, aside from a few regional meetings, it became apparent that the organisation was not interested in being the alternative to Griffin’s party.
In 2013 the party began to pick up a lot of disaffected former EDL supporters, attracted by a hearty mixture of confrontation, harassment and the apparent distribution of free alcohol on demonstrations.
The party registered itself with the Electoral Commission in early 2014 with the intention of unseating Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP and an MEP for the North West region.
Probably the only group experiencing growth on the far-right, Britain First has slimmed down its leadership as it strives to streamline a notorious cash-for-controversy operation.
Jim Dowson: Former Calvinist Minister who helped run the BNP between 2007-2010. Controversial businessman who has received funding from the European union in the past. Having built the BNP up, has made it his business to knock it down again. A powerful anti-Griffinite, if not an effective politician. Has been in and out of court in Belfast , Northern Ireland since he took a leading and controversial role in the “Flag Disputes.”
Paul Golding: The BF’s national chairman, Golding is former head of publicity for the BNP as well as a failed councillor in Sevenoaks, Kent. Golding was one of the high flyers in the BNP’s ‘Brat Pack’ during the last decade but was held back by a poor temper and an allegedly challenging life style. Golding is the BF’s Chairman and a recent convert to Christianity which comes hand in hand with being a minor business partner of Dowson. Has been at the forefront of leading the BF’s confrontational street activities but struggles dismally when interviewed by the media. Expected to be the BF candidate against Nick Griffin in the Euro Elections.
Britain First Key Politics
- Britain First is only recently a registered political party. Previously it used the name “National People’s Party”, before deciding to register the Britain First name.
- BF claim it is not a racist or fascist organisation, yet it propagandises on the traditional far-right issues of Islam, immigration and abortion. It encourages its members to carry out actions like mass emailing and letter writing in a campaign to “Put Britons First”, which the organisation appears to define as anyone who is Christian. So far, it claims that over thirty thousand “actions” have been taken.
- The BF is closely aligned with the black-led organisation the “Christian People’s Party”, which also had a small dalliance with the BNP when Dowson was fundraising for them.
- If religion has replaced race as the clarion call in the BF, it does not appear to feel the need to proselytise or seemingly recruit to its cause either non-Christians or BNP hardliners.
- The party has doomsday prophesy where it believes civilization will end in bloodshed between Christians and Muslims. To this end, the party has stepped up its efforts to antagonised Muslim groups.
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