The far right groups hoping to succeed Reform

By Searchlight Team
By Paul Gale

Most coverage of candidates to the right of the Conservative Party will be on Reform UK. But several parties will be trying to position themselves as successors to Reform, anticipating that after 4th July it might either collapse due to disappointment, or merge with a more right-wing Tory party.

Probably the strongest of these minor parties, sitting somewhere between Reform and the openly racist far right, are the English Democrats, founded in 2002 by Essex solicitor Robin Tilbrook (above).

Their main policy is calling for an English Parliament, and though anti-immigration the party does not pursue overt racism. Yet ever since the mid-2000s Tilbrook has made a habit of collaborating with outright fascists as well as far right conspiracy theorists.

In 2004 this was formalised in a pact with the Freedom Party (led by former BNP deputy leader Sharron Edwards and every nazi’s favourite barrister Adrian Davies) and Third Way (the party founded by Patrick Harrington’s faction after the many National Front splits of the 1980s).

Next came an alliance with Mark Cotterill, editor of the nazi magazine Heritage and Destiny, who was then leading the England First Party. Followed by the recruitment of another faction of ex-BNP activists led by Eddy Butler and former Leeds councillor Chris Beverley.

Several dozen BNP members were brought into the EDs by Butler, though most then followed Butler into his next political adventure with the Islamophobic For Britain Movement, or dropped out of politics.

Unabashed, Tilbrook and the EDs moved on to new alliances with a younger generation of nazis and fascists, most recently working with both Mark Collett of Patriotic Alternative (who designed Tilbrook’s leaflet for last month’s Police & Crime Commissioner election in Essex) and Collett’s bitter rival Kenny Smith of the Homeland Party.

More formally, the EDs now have an electoral pact with UKIP.

As with PA and Reform UK, the English Democrats are owned and controlled as a business, in this case by Tilbrook personally, rather than as a normal political party. But unlike UKIP there is no suspicion of the party being used to enrich its owner. In fact, the EDs depend on Tilbrook’s subsidies.

Searchlight expects Tilbrook himself to stand in Epping Forest, and his party to have at most a dozen candidates nationwide. Several regulars are likely to turn up at the polls again, including deputy chairman Therese Hirst, probably in the new Spen Valley constituency, and Steve Morris or party secretary Val Morris in Bury South, as well as the former PCC candidates Henry Curteis and David Dickason.

Curteis is especially keen to promote “peace with Russia” as part of the pro-Putin echo chamber that unites most of the British far right with the supposed socialist, but increasingly Strasserite, George Galloway.

Another pro-Putin “peace” campaigner on the far right is David Kurten who heads the Heritage Party, one of several parties that broke away from UKIP. Kurten’s party is the most active on the conspiracy theory scene, including anti-vaxx demonstrations and the usual raving about “15 minute cities”.

David Kurten

Kurten has promised his members the party will stand ‘dozens’ of candidates but thus far his party has achieved only 1% of its £50,000 appeal target, so it’s uncertain how many they will actually be able to field. But the few areas where they are known to have viable branches include Sheffield, Southend, and Woking.

The same applies to UKIP under their new leader Lois Perry. While UKIP has a pact with the EDs, we expect several constituencies where one or the other of them will stand against Reform UK, and/or against Heritage.

Lois Perry

Since they have opted out of the General Election, the Homeland Party will try to remain on good terms with those parties that are standing. This is part of Kenny Smith’s long-term strategy of appearing credible and looking towards future recruits from such parties when (as he expects) they disintegrate.

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