|Ideology||Anti-Islam, anti-immigration, nationalist|
|Leadership||Paul Golding (leader) Jayda Fransen (deputy)|
|Online||Facebook and Twitter|
|Areas active||Across the whole of the UK|
While still small, it has benefited from the vacuum left by the declining British National Party (BNP) and the splintering English Defence League (EDL). It has also benefited by excessive and sensationalist media coverage.
The group began its confrontational political activities by promoting actions designed to ignite violent responses from the Muslim communities. This tactic has been implemented less often since the departure of their founder Jim Dowson.
Combining the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the BNP with the hostility to Islam of the EDL, Britain First is attracting supporters from both because of its direct action and stunts. It has particularly targeted Anjem Choudary’s media savvy network in a way the EDL never did.
Through directly confronting their opponents – all of course caught on camera – they are attracting huge support on social media and have created a climate of fear amongst Muslim communities.
It is too simplistic to simply pigeonhole Britain First as just another far right group. Britain First was founded and funded initially by Jim Dowson, a man dedicated to Calvinist chauvinism, religious bigotry and the raptures of evangelical and biblical Armageddon/doomsday prophecies.
Though Dowson left the organization in 2014, arguing that the group’s tactics of invading mosques was ‘provocative and counterproductive’, the group has maintained its Christian focus with crucifixes being displayed at BF demonstrations.
While the group’s street demonstrations are generally small (in the low hundreds) their online reach is much larger with 1.9 million ‘likes’ on Facebook.
In early 2016, Golding was in discussions about merging BF with Paul Weston and his Liberty GB party though this did not materialise. Golding stood as BF candidate in the London mayoral elections, polling just 1.2%. During the victory speech of Labour’s Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, Golding turned his back on the winning candidate and BF later tweeted “ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS NOT WELCOME!”.
Golding and Fransen were banned from entering Luton and, later, all mosques and Islamic centres in England and Wales in August 2016.
In November 2016, Fransen was convicted and fined by a court in Luton for abusing a Muslim woman and also fined for wearing a political uniform. On the same day, Golding was charged with having entered premises in Wales against a court order instructing him not to do so. After breaking the court order Golding was sentenced to 8 weeks in prison in December 2016 and on his release published a video in which he stated:
“I can promise you, from the very depths of my being, you will all meet your miserable ends at the hands of the Britain First movement. Every last one of you.”
In August 2017 they held a ‘Day of Action’ in Wolverhampton though attracted only a small crowd of 17 demonstrators.
Paul Golding is the leader of the UK’s leading street protest group Britain First.
He has been active in far-right politics since the late 1990s when a member of the young BNP.
As a member of the BNP Golding was soon recruited as a party propagandist and began editing a youth publication “Excalibur”. Golding was tipped by Nick Griffin as someone with great potential, although others in the party felt he was a little ‘wooden’ and prone to displays of stupidity when influenced by others and alcohol.
In 2002, Golding became the BNP’s ‘Director of Publicity’ and was one of Nick Griffin’s closest confidants. However, by 2009, Golding’s star was beginning to wane as his recreational activities began to take their toll on him and he developed a reputation for reacting violently towards other BNP members, most notably the then councillor, Lawrence Rustem, who Golding attacked after a leafleting session.
In 2009 Golding surprised everyone by being elected to Sevenoaks district Council in Kent. A few months later it was reported that despite taking a salary for the position, Golding had actually done very little. At the time he was Editor of the party periodical which had ground to a standstill as the BNP was beginning to silently implode.
In 2011 Golding moved to Northern Ireland, belatedly quitting his council post and the BNP, and helped Dowson start up Britain First.
Since then he has led BF to become the leading UK based ‘counter-jihad’ street movement.
A former recruitment consultant from Anerley, South London, Jayda Fransen is now deputy Leader of Britain First (BF). Her outspoken stance on Islam and her prominent role in BF has made her an increasingly important figure on the British scene.
She is a dedicated Roman Catholic who studied Law while working for a now defunct firm of conveyance solicitors in Forest Hill. Importantly she has been one of those responsible for injecting the group with its religious zeal, believing strongly in invasion and crusader narratives.