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In The News

Post-Brexit civic nationalists face High Noon in Yorkshire and Devon by-elections

Disgraced “gay Muslim Tory” MP Imran Ahmad Khan, whose criminal conviction prompted the Wakefield by-election

Nominations closed this afternoon for two parliamentary by-elections to be held on 23rd June in the West Yorkshire constituency of Wakefield and the Devon constituency of Tiverton & Honiton.

Each of these by-elections follows scandals that disgraced the previous Conservative MP. In Wakefield a homosexual Muslim Conservative – overseas readers might think we are making this up but it’s absolutely true – resigned after being convicted for sexually assaulting a teenage boy. He has since been imprisoned.

In Tiverton & Honiton, the local Conservative MP resigned after he admitted viewing pornography on his phone while at work in the chamber of the House of Commons. Readers will appreciate that parliamentary proceedings can be boring, but this was probably not the best way to relieve the tedium.

Each by-election has attracted a range of civic nationalist, populist and/or anti-Islam candidates.

In Wakefield voters can choose between:
Ashlea Simon of Britain First, an anti-Islamist party backed by former BNP official Paul Golding – as reported in the current edition of H&D, Miss Simon achieved the best nationalist vote at the recent local council elections, polling 21.6% in Walkden North, Salford;

Jayda Fransen, Mr Golding’s former partner both in Britain First and in private life, who is now based in Northern Ireland where she works for Christian businessman Jim Dowson and his political frontman Nick Griffin – they call their outfit the British Freedom Party but it is not in fact a registered political party, so Ms Fransen is listed as Independent on the ballot paper;

Nick Griffin and Jayda Fransen promoting the ‘British Freedom Party’: the only problem is the party doesn’t exist, so Ms Fransen has to stand as an Independent

Chris Walsh, a Wakefield gym owner and the most local of the civic nationalist candidates, representing the Reform UK party backed by former Brexit Party and UKIP leader Nigel Farage;

Therese Hirst, a frequent candidate in Yorkshire elections for the English Democrats, a party led by Essex solicitor Robin Tilbrook which campaigns for an English Parliament – Ms Hirst (a Theology graduate of Durham University) finished runner-up at the Batley & Spen parliamentary by-election in 2016, polling 4.8%;

Jordan Gaskell, who at the age of 19 received UKIP’s best vote at the recent local government elections: 10.4% in Hindley ward, Wigan – like Ashlea Simon he has what might prove a big disadvantage of coming from the wrong side of the Pennines, though unlike Jayda Fransen he is at least based in England.

Other anti-establishment parties contesting Wakefield include the CoVID-sceptic ‘Freedom Alliance’, the Christian Peoples Alliance, the Yorkshire Party, and the left-populist Northern Independence Party.

Wakefield’s Conservatives have (perhaps surprisingly) selected another Asian candidate. There is also an Asian independent standing, as well as the ‘Monster Raving Loony Party’, and the usual Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties.

The by-election is almost certain to be won either by Labour or the Conservatives, but an unusually poor or good result might either finish off one of the crowded field of nationalist or semi-nationalist parties, or give one of them the boost required to raise their profile.

At present none of these parties has anything like the profile achieved by the National Front in the 1970s, the BNP in the 1990s and 2000s, or UKIP and the Brexit Party in the 2010s.

Frankie Rufolo (above right) with For Britain Movement leader Anne-Marie Waters

Tiverton & Honiton in contrast to Wakefield is almost certain to be a battle between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Here there is a slightly different range of civic nationalist candidates:
Frankie Rufolo is Exeter organiser of the For Britain Movement, the anti-Islamist party founded by former UKIP leadership candidate Anne-Marie Waters. Mr Rufolo has stood several times in Exeter City Council elections, most recently polling 7.7%.
Andy Foan, a former Royal Navy and RAF pilot, is standing for Reform UK.
Ben Walker, also a Royal Navy veteran, is standing for UKIP, for whom he was once a councillor in South Gloucestershire. In 2019 he was fined more than £11,000 for breaking building regulations.
Jordan Donoghue-Morgan is standing for the Heritage Party, which has absolutely no connection to H&D and is a splinter from UKIP.

Since UKIP were runners-up with 16.5% in this constituency in 2015, there is a fairly substantial civic nationalist or populist right-wing vote to share between these candidates, especially given the Conservative Party’s recent problems.

As in Wakefield, an especially good or bad result for any of the above four candidates could propel their party either into significance or into extinction.

Other candidates in Tiverton & Honiton are the usual ‘big four’: Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green.

Neither of the two fastest-growing nationalist organisations in Britain is contesting either of these by-elections. Patriotic Alternative is not yet a registered political party so cannot yet appear on ballot papers. The British Democratic Party has decided (probably wisely) not to enter a crowded field that is likely to turn into a media circus.

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