We chart the political journey of Anne Marie Waters, from Labour activist to far-right figurehead.
Anne Marie Waters, one of the UK’s most prominent anti-Muslim activists, is standing for election in Hartlepool (De Bruce ward) on 6 May.
Waters is one of 60 candidates representing the For Britain Movement, the far-right party she leads, in the local elections. Waters, who moved to Hartlepool last year, has been campaigning in the town for months, viewing it as her best chance of success after For Britain won a seat in De Bruce in 2019.
Whilst presenting herself as a solution to Hartlepool’s local issues, Waters has spent years relentlessly attempting to associate Islam with violence and social degradation, and, in recent years, has increasingly adopted explicitly racial language.
We have previously exposed For Britain’s links to extremists, including entire branches dominated by former British National Party (BNP) figures and fielding nazis in previous elections. Below we give an overview of Waters’ own political history.
The ‘counter-jihad’ scene
- Waters spent years as a Labour Party member, but in 2013 she shifted dramatically to the right and became heavily involved in the so-called ‘counter-jihad‘ scene, a broad, international alliance claiming that western civilisation is under attack from Islam. Waters wrote regular blogs for the International Free Press Society’s Dispatch International, a now-defunct outlet edited by Islamophobic activists.
- In 2014 Waters launched Sharia Watch UK. While the now-dormant blog primarily functioned as an internet resource, it was also one of the key players in organising the cancelled Muhammad cartoon exhibition in London in September 2015, which was set to feature the notorious anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders as a speaker.
- Waters soon moved into street politics. For example, in April 2015, at an event organised by the British “counter-jihad” group Mothers Against Radical Islam and Sharia, Waters was filmed saying:
“For a start the immigration will have to stop, the immigration from Islamic countries has to stop entirely, that is just the way it is. A lot of people need to be deported. Many mosques need to be closed down. It really has to get tough.”
- In January 2016, alongside former English Defence League (EDL) leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), Waters emerged as a key figure in Pegida UK, the short-lived UK branch of the pan-European, anti-Muslim street movement. The venture quickly flopped, however.
- Waters joined UKIP in 2014, viewing it as “the only party” willing to attack multiculturalism and Islam, representing UKIP as a parliamentary candidate in 2015. After Pegida disintegrated, she re-engaged with the party, although her focus on parliamentary politics did not dampen her extremism.
- For example, in September 2016 she tweeted: “The only “evil” we have legalised is Islam”. In the wake of the June 2017 Finsbury mosque attack, Waters had the following to say:
“It’s called ‘war’, and if not for Islam, none of it would be happening… Islam has waged war on unbelievers for 1,400 years. It’s not the only cause of war, but it’s the cause of this one.”
- In April 2017, Waters appeared on Red Ice Radio, the premier outlet of the white nationalist alt-right, to talk about “Opposing the Islamization of Europe”. Shortly after she put her name forward to stand as a UKIP parliamentary candidate in that year’s snap general election, but was deselected by UKIP’s NEC after pressure from HOPE not hate and other media sources.
- In June 2017, Waters announced her run for the UKIP leadership at a disorderly demonstration in Manchester organised by Yaxley-Lennon, telling the crowd that “Islam is a killing machine”. Waters promised that under her, the party would “publicly acknowledge that Islamic culture is simply not compatible with our own”.
- During the bitterly fought contest, Waters and her followers were lambasted for their extremism by numerous figures within the party, including Nigel Farage. She still finished second with 21% of the vote.
- In October 2017, Waters launched the For Britain Movement with the help of her campaign aide Jack Buckby, formerly a rising star in the fascist BNP. From the jump, Waters’ party has been a vessel for Islamophobic UKIP exiles, ex-BNP members and other extremists.
- That same month she also spoke at the annual conference of the Traditional Britain Group, a key meeting point for the more “highbrow” end of the UK far-right scene, with other speakers including Martin Sellner, the de-facto leader of the Europe-wide, far-right network Generation Identity.
- In November 2017, Waters featured in an undercover ITV exposé on the UK’s far right, titled Undercover: Inside Britain’s New Far Right. Waters was filmed saying:
“We are becoming an Islamic state […] the EU agreed to turn Europe into an Arabian Islamic continent, in return for trade, essentially […] My thinking is we need to reduce their birthrates now.”
- Throughout 2018, Waters spoke at a number of far-right rallies, either headed by Stephen Yaxley-Lennon or held in his support during his most recent spell in prison. This included a 9 June event, which was marred by violence as a section of the protestors attacked police.
- In June 2018, she stood in the Lewisham East by-election, but her campaign was overshadowed after HOPE not hate exposed Sam Melia, one of For Britain’s 2018 local election candidates, for having a past in the now-banned neo-Nazi organisation National Action. Waters received 1.2% of the vote.
Racist conspiracy theories
- As former BNP activists flooded into For Britain, with some quickly climbing to leading positions in the party, Waters’ language has become increasingly conspiratorial and fixated on race.
- For example, in August 2018, Waters addressed a Swansea meeting of the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, going on a rant about “anti-white hatred”:
“I have had enough of having my skin colour degraded and insulted at every opportunity […] White people have absolutely nothing to apologise for, we have nothing to feel guilty about, and Europe is our little part of the world, and we have every right to a homeland, just like every other racial group on this planet […] I want white people to be recognised as the indigenous people of Europe.”
She went on to state:
“We are having our countries taken from us, because we are made to feel guilty about our very existence.”
- In August 2019 Waters spoke at the conference of Generation Identity UK, a group which advocated for a form of racial segregation. During the conference, which was addressed by several white nationalists, Waters made direct reference to the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, and stated:
“The only reason that the mass migration into white Europe is happening on the scale that it’s happening is to disempower white people, to make us a minority and therefore unable to wield political power”.
- Waters has continued to spread racist conspiracy theories. In May 2020, she penned an article about “globalism” on the For Britain website, in which she claimed:
“Anti-white hatred is also integral to globalism […] To persuade white Europe to hand over its countries to the globalists, we whites first had to be persuaded that it is what we deserve – as whites, we are inherently evil and the only way to escape this, the only redemption, is to surrender our land, our culture, our heritage, and even our jobs.
“Not only did whites allow our borders to be opened, but so self-hatingly docile had we become that we even agreed to laws which give non-whites an advantage in the jobs market (“positive discrimination”). We opened our borders then bowed down in apology and obedience to those who arrived; all the while destroying our own way of life and our personal prospects. This is globalism – the destruction of the free and wealthy Western populations.”
- In December 2020, Waters adopted the slogan “White Lives Matter”, which has been increasingly used by far-right activists on both sides of the Atlantic to protest the Black Lives Matter movement and emphasise narratives of white victimhood.