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New leader for EDL-linked party

Perhaps it’s the lack of any other news so soon after Christmas, but yesterday’s resignation of the chairman of one of the more nondescript of Britain’s Nazi grouplets has caused a modicum of excitement.

Paul Weston relinquished the leadership of the undistinguished British Freedom Party yesterday. Unsurprisingly Kevin Carroll, his deputy, stepped up into his role. The party does not hold internal elections and does not publish a list of its officers, though the Electoral Commission website records that its treasurer is Richard Bateman and its nominating officer is Dr George Whale.

Weston held the post for around a year. Explaining his departure he told the BFP website: “I am writing a book about the current dire state of Britain, which is going to take up the majority of my time over the coming months, and I feel it would be better for British Freedom to be led by someone who can devote more time to the party.”

Hope Not Hate (HNH) claimed that Weston had been desperate to go “since it became apparent that the BFP was not going to perform as well as he had hoped. Weston was under the illusion that EDL members would flock to the party and it would overtake the BNP as the main force on the far-right.”

We might briefly recall that HNH also believed in the first few months of last year that the BFP was about to overtake the British National Party as the main force on the far right. In April HNH surveyed its readers on how it should deal with the BFP threat, explaining that the BFP with the support of the English Defence League leadership: “have the potential to be far more dangerous than the British National Party,” adding: “As several recent studies have shown, a strong anti-Muslim message has a far wider appeal in society than the old style racist politics of the BNP.”

HNH may be right that Weston has become disillusioned by the lack of progress – political patience is an uncommon attribute – though there were not exactly many opportunities in 2012. In the one that the BFP grabbed with both hands – the election for the police and crime commissioner for Bedford – it performed fairly well for an unknown far-right party with Carroll, one of the founders of the EDL, polling 10.3%, coming fourth out of five candidates.

Weston is a former UK Independence Party activist and election candidate and may be ruing his poor judgement in leaving UKIP just before that party’s recent boost in the polls and throwing in his lot with a bunch of no-hopers. UKIP is unlikely to have him back. Perhaps he is indeed writing a book, though if it is as boring as the BFP website I’ll give it a miss.

Under his leadership the BFP lost its Electoral Commission registration after failing to send in its annual registration form accompanied by a cheque for £25. The party remains deregistered at present, which means it cannot fight elections. When the party also failed to post anything on its website for 10 days before Christmas, the same people who last spring thought it was a big threat announced its death prematurely. It hasn’t died, it is easy to re-register and the party may well be more successful in this year’s May council elections than in last year’s. That wouldn’t be hard: last May its six candidates nationally received 308 votes between them. The police commissioner elections in November were very much a one-off in producing some eclectic outcomes and the BFP is unlikely to repeat its moderately respectable Bedfordshire result.

The far right generally is in the electoral doldrums with several parties vying for voter endorsement. The BNP’s recent council by-election results have been pathetic, for example in November the party contested three by-elections and polled 2.1%, 1.8% and 6.7%. The BNP at least benefits from the fact that a lot of voters have heard of it. Its rivals don’t even have that. Which, if any, out of the English Democrats, National Front, British Democratic Party, Britain First and the BFP will emerge first out of the fetid swamp is anyone’s guess. And whichever one does, can it cause more damage than a mosquito’s bite to UKIP, now sweeping up anti-immigration and nationalist votes? Perhaps this is the “dire state of Britain” that Weston wants to write about. 

© 2015 Searchlight Magazine Ltd, PO Box 1576, Ilford IG5 0NG

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