British Democrats’ election quartet scrapes barrel with gun shop man

By Searchlight Team

“British Democrats to stand candidates at the General Election 2024” shouted the party’s web site. In a lengthy but not exactly full explanation of the decision, the leaders reminded members that their 2023 AGM (presumably held in in a bus shelter smelling of wee) decided almost unanimously that the party should field “a limited and select number of parliamentary candidates in strategic areas”.

Well, we thought, we don’t know about ‘select’ but we can guarantee that all of those candidates will be ‘limited’. By their credibility, if nothing else

The announcement ended, as you might predict, with a shake of the begging bowl. “Your financial support is crucial in enabling us to field candidates and make a significant impact in the upcoming election,” they pleaded, adding “no amount is too small.” Well, indeed. We checked, and you could get four cans of strong pear cider for £2.99 at Lidl that week. Every little gulps!

When we describe this gush as “not exactly full”, what we have in mind is that they somehow neglected to give even a ballpark idea of how many limited and select candidates they had in mind.

Listening keenly for echoes of rumours of saloon bar indiscretions, we concluded that the grand total would likely be… er… three. No wonder they kept quiet. You don’t want to bandy around numbers as small as that while you have your sprinkling of supporters thinking of hitting the Donate button.

Three, eh? We felt that a theme might be about to develop. Something less wholesome than Three Men and a Baby, that was for sure. And less entertaining than The Three Amigos. Ah well, it would emerge in the end.

So, as a quick recap: The British Democrats are the last remaining electoral standard-bearers for the rag, tag and bobtail army of traditional British fascism. We say ‘army’, but these days it’s more of a company. Or perhaps platoon. These stragglers are the end of a line that began with the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and the National Front in the 1960s.

Party president Andrew ‘Never Gold or Silver’ Brons (above) has already been exposed by Searchlight as a former NSM member. In 1965 Brons sent a letter (below) to fellow nazi Françoise Dior, wife of NSM Fuhrer Colin Jordan, about a “well-intentioned” comrade who intended to bomb synagogues. His only question to Dior was over whether such bombings might damage “our public image”. Brand management, eh?

So, who are Brons’s shock troops for July? In truth, they are not particularly shocking.

The two most prominent candidates, Chris Bateman (standing in Basildon and Billericay) and Lawrence Rustem (Faversham and Mid Kent), have followed a tortuous political path in the past few years – from the British National Party (BNP), through Anne Marie Waters’ fanatically Islamophobic For Britain Movement, and into the British Democrats.

Both of them have indirect connections to Paul Golding and Britain First. Bateman saw BF as occasional allies in Muslim-baiting campaigns, both on the streets and online. But Rustem has shunned the party because, although twenty years ago he was Golding’s closest friend, they had a bitter falling out. While Golding is better known for knocking women around (as ex-girlfriend Jayda Fransen is quite prepared to tell anyone) he reportedly made a gender exception just the once, and lamped Rustem.

Rustem (above) was the beneficiary rather than victim of another ‘exception’ a few years earlier when, despite his Turkish ancestry, he was permitted to become a member of John Tyndall’s BNP. Tyndall and his fellow race-purist pals allowed Rustem into their ranks because he was prepared to carry out infiltration missions among London anti-fascists. Like those wartime Turks who served the espionage arm of Himmler’s SS, Rustem was elevated to the rank of Honorary Aryan.

To his surprise and, we imagine, glee Chris ‘Master’ Bateman (below) finds himself in the improbable position of being, just possibly, a relevant figure in this election. Not that he has any chance of winning. Good gracious no. But his availability as a protest vote candidate may be one of several cats among the pigeons in Basildon and Billericay.

The Conservatives have, you see, shot themselves in the foot. The seat was sitting there without a Tory candidate right up until a couple of days before close-of-nominations date. At the last minute, HQ kindly gave the local party a short list to choose from. It was a very short list indeed. It contained only one name – that of national party chairman Richard Holden.

Local activists are outraged. Even the leader of the Conservative faction on Basildon Council has announced that he will campaign for candidates in neighbouring constituencies rather than lift a finger to help Holden.

Theoretically the seat carries a Tory majority of more than 20,000 (retiring MP John Baron won 67% of the vote in 2019) so Holden has awarded himself just about as safe a seat as he possibly could. But the 2024 election is not going to be as simple as that. The new wave of heavy number-crunching used by the pollsters had Tories and Labour only a few points apart in advance of the candidate announcement. Holden’s unpopularity has reduced that to something more like a tie.

His theme song may be “I’m not a blinking dickie, I’m Billericay Thickie” but Bateman may conceivably prove a protest vote recipient too far for Holden.

The member of the BD trio that makes us most twitchy is Frank Calladine (below), who will be standing in Ed Miliband’s seat, Darlington North. This will be his third general election in a row in that constituency – and the third different flag he has flown under there.

In 2017 he stood as an independent, polling 366 and by a whisker forcing the English Democrat (363) into seventh and last place. In 2019 he and ED developed The Other Plan – he would not stand against them but become their candidate. Alas, ED and Frank proved less than the sum of their parts, picking up just 309 votes.

No, it’s not Calladine’s electoral potency – or rather lack of it – that perplexes us. It’s the fact that he works in the… er… gun trade.

Not, we hasten to add, that we would describe him as an ‘arms dealer’. There’s no Night Manager type TV series to be sourced from this plot. We’re pretty sure that he’s not even a ‘gun dealer’ – someone with a licence to sell firearms to the public. He’s an apparently not very literate shop assistant, and as such quite possibly only sweeps the floor and sells the cool-looking sunglasses and ‘My other gun is a Purdy’ T-shirts while his boss handles the shotgun, airgun and airsoft side of the business.

Nonetheless, just the idea of a political extremist being surrounded by guns all day is not calculated to make any of us sleep easier. We’ve tried counting imaginary sheep as they jump hurdles to see if that will help us nod off, but we keep jolting awake every time somebody shoots one of them. No wonder Frank (relax – there is no brother Jesse) restricts himself to telling constituents that he works in a “family business”. The less they know, the better.

Oh well, at least the gun aspect helped us to find our cinematic trio theme: Il misero, il brutto, il cattivo. The Sad, the Bad and the Ugly. Take your pick which is which.

But wait! Just as we thought it was all done and dusted, up popped Gary Butler (below) as a fourth Beadies’ candidate, selected for the new constituency of Maidstone & Malling. Butler has lots of form in elections, though mostly of the ‘trailed the field by 14 lengths’ type.

He made an almost incessant effort over more than a decade to win the Shepway North seat on Maidstone Council. He began in 2010 with a (comparatively) successful fourth place out of six, standing for the National Front. Apparently determined never again to have anyone finish below him, in 2011 he switched to the British National Party and promptly came last with 102 votes.

For 2012 he was back to the NF, and bottom again. In 2014, 15 and 16 he tried his hand with the English Democrats, coming last all three times, and surpassing himself with a tally of 38 votes in 2015. In 2018, 19, 21 and 23 he ran as an independent, achieving four bottom places. The one gap in his record came in 2022 when, according to the records in front of us, his name was not on the candidates’ list, and bottom place went to Melanie Butler. A coincidence? A typo? A flirtation with gender fluidity? Who knows…

Fate attempted to send Gary a message this year, when the council abolished Shepway North, but he clearly wasn’t listening. He stood in the new ward as an independent and, inevitably, shored up the bottom of the table. Perhaps it was the British Democrats’ Lawrence Rustem (yes, him again) polling an extra 135 votes that tempted him to his latest party switch.

All of this success at coming bottom in the Pee Wee league also seems to have encouraged Butler to try his hand at failing Big Time. In the 2015 General Election, he decided to take a crack at the constituency of Faversham and Mid Kent, standing for the English Democrats. With 0.3% of the vote, he finished behind even the Raving Loony candidate. Skipping Theresa May’s bonkers 2017 election, he gave it another shot in 2019 as an independent. Naturally he came last.

This year, he’s looking to fail in a fresh constituency, leaving comrade Rustem to stand in for him and nail last place in Faversham.

One response on “British Democrats’ election quartet scrapes barrel with gun shop man

  1. Royal Toff

    But you should give credit where it is due.

    Last April, UKIP’s Forever-Chairman Benny Boy Walker gleefully threw open the party’s doors to “like-minded people”, which he made clear included BNP, NF, British Democrats and EDL members. An understandable move, since saner or less indecent people long ago abandoned a party run by a convicted cheating rogue builder in league with Mr Cash For Questions. They need more duffers to make up the numbers and add credibility so Walker could keep pocketing the money coming in..

    Serial election-loser (till he became Returning Officer) Walker must have forgotten that his own ticket to power was his attacks on all UKIP members whom he claimed supported diamond-in-the-rough Tommy Robinson, the founder of the same EDL whose supporters he is now soliciting to join UKIP, and whose close backers like Anne Marie Waters and Voice of Wales Stan Robinson, UKIP Llanelli MP candidate, were or are at the heart of the party! Hypocrisy is another Walker trait.

    Back then last year, Walker’s finest boot-licker Steve Unwin, UKIP Home Affairs, Political Reform & Local Government Spokesperson and now its Parliament Candidate for Christchurch where he sells books, was busy selling UKIP’s swing to the far fringes to the BNP’s spinoff and Sewer King, the National Housing Party.

    Sadly, the NHP may not be impressed with Unwin’s tastes. On the MP candidate’s public Facebook page appeared showing, together with Mr & Mrs Unwin, Mr & Mrs Cash For Questions and, in the middle, notorious convicted and jailed unrepentant brothel-keeper, the infamous Spanker of Pokesdown, UKIP Patron Vanessa Coleman.

    Should be great fun if Unwin Pokes his Down in at a Hustings, instead of bottling it.

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