2021 elections: Showdown for civic nationalist and Brexiteer parties

As we explained last week, the 2021 elections for a variety of local councils, mayoralties, and the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments take place at a time of transition for the racial nationalist movement.

It’s also the end of an era for the various civic nationalist, populist and Brexiteer parties, many of which emerged out of splits in the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), a force that changed the direction of British politics during the past decade but has been in prolonged death throes for the past few years.

The largest faction of the old UKIP followed Nigel Farage into his new Brexit Party, but Farage has now retired from frontline electoral politics. His ally Richard Tice now leads a party renamed and rebranded as Reform UK, which is still the largest of the post-UKIP factions but a lot weaker than its predecessor.

According to our analysis of documents produced by more than two hundred returning officers across England, Scotland, and Wales, Reform UK has 276 candidates for English councils. In addition they are fighting all 14 Greater London Assembly constituencies as well as putting up a GLA slate. (This citywide list, elected on a proportional basis, is one of the few elections where parties such as Reform UK stand a chance. The BNP’s Richard Barnbrook was elected to the GLA via the citywide slate in 2008.)

Nigel Farage has left frontline politics, while his Brexit Party has been rebranded as Reform UK

Reform UK have candidates for 13 of the 39 Police & Crime Commissioner posts up for election on May 6th; as well as three mayoralties.

The biggest showdown between Reform UK and the rump of UKIP is in Wales, where Reform UK is fighting all 40 constituencies as well as all five regional slates. UKIP is fighting all of the regions, but only has candidates in 14 of the 40 constituencies.

At the previous Welsh election in 2016, UKIP won seven seats via the regional list system.

Across the English councils, UKIP’s relative weakness compared to Reform UK is even more marked: we estimate that they have 131 English council candidates (fewer than half Reform UK’s total), plus a London slate. Unlike Reform UK, UKIP have a London mayoral candidate, and they are also contesting the North Tyneside mayoralty.

A Covid-sceptic party called Freedom Alliance (and its South Wales sister party ‘No More Lockdowns’) is fighting four of the five Welsh regional lists and 15 Welsh constituencies. Across England we estimate that they have 89 council candidates. A similar but higher-profile anti-lockdown party is led in London by Piers Corbyn, brother of the former Labour leader. This party – Let London Live – is fighting three GLA constituencies, the citywide list, and the London mayoralty (with Corbyn himself as mayoral candidate).

David Kurten left UKIP to form the Heritage Party

As we have previously reported, yet another anti-lockdown party contesting the London elections is the Heritage Party, founded by former UKIP leadership candidate David Kurten. The half-Jamaican Mr Kurten is standing for the London mayoralty and heads a GLA slate, in a bid to retain the seat he won as a UKIP list candidate in 2016.

The Heritage Party (which has absolutely no connection to H&D!) has 22 candidates nationwide in various English council contests: its strongest area seems to be Surrey, where it has five county council candidates – otherwise it has one or two candidates dotted around the country.

An even smaller UKIP splinter is the Alliance for Democracy & Freedom, founded by yet another former UKIP leadership candidate, ex-MEP Mike Hookem. This has just four council candidates around the country.

Some populists and Brexiteers have quixotically rallied behind the Social Democratic Party (SDP), rump of the party founded by prominent ex-Labour politicians in the 1980s. Most of the SDP was fanatically pro-EU and eventually merged into today’s Liberal Democrats, but the tiny group that kept up the name SDP have been joined by a surprising number of Brexiteers who were unhappy about the ‘far right’ direction of UKIP and its other splinters.

The SDP have 62 council candidates across England, as well as a London mayoral candidate and GLA list.

Robin Tilbrook, leader of the English Democrats

The English Democrats have long attempted to rival the various UKIP splinters by promoting their particular constitutional argument in favour of an English Parliament, and for a while attracted a number of defectors from Nick Griffin’s collapsing BNP.

Almost all of those ex-BNP types are now in the For Britain Movement, but the EDs retain a hardcore of English nationalists led by Essex solicitor Robin Tilbrook. They will have six council candidates, two mayoral and two for Police Commissioner elections.

Independent candidates in these elections include former ED Frank Calladine, standing for Mayor of Doncaster.

The bottom line is that Reform UK is by far the biggest of the parties to emerge from the chaos of a bitterly divided Brexiteer political scene. However we expect them to poll quite badly this year, despite killing off UKIP, the Heritage Party and other splinters.

There will be some strong independent results, and we expect Jim Lewthwaite of the British Democratic Party to poll well in his Bradford City Council ward. But the biggest successes of this year’s elections on the broadly nationalist side of things are likely to be for the For Britain Movement, which will draw support from both civic and racial nationalists despite fielding several non-White candidates.

While these elections will (by the standards of the early 2000s) produce very few nationalist or even broadly populist successes, they will help to clarify the post-Brexit, post-pandemic scene.

H&D will post full reports on the results and their implications, both here and in what will necessarily be a slightly delayed May-June edition of the magazine.

Will the 2021 elections be postponed again?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan should have faced re-election last year, will the contest be postponed again this year?

Election officials in Lancashire have written to the government suggesting that this year’s local elections should again be postponed – or else held on an all-postal basis, due to the Covid-19 pandemic making it unsafe or impractical to hold elections as scheduled on May 6th.

The 2020 elections – including the London mayoralty and Greater London Assembly – were postponed in the early stages of the pandemic. This means that already many councillors and mayors have served an extra 12 months, and that this year’s elections were in any case going to combine the scheduled 2020 and 2021 contests.

There have been conflicting messages as to whether it’s feasible for the elections to go ahead this year. North West England was one of several regions that had an experimental ‘pilot’ project of all-postal elections in 2004, which resulted in a significantly increased turnout, but for various reasons it was decided not to continue the experiment.

Controversial journalist Katie Hopkins this week joined UKIP – but this year’s elections (even if they go ahead) might well be the party’s last stand

For racial nationalists this year might have seen the first electoral test for the new Patriotic Alternative party, if the Electoral Commission approve its registration in time. The National Front and the For Britain Movement will certainly have a few candidates if the elections go ahead, while Dr Jim Lewthwaite intends to stand in Bradford for the British Democratic Party. The late Richard Edmonds had planned to stand for the NF in last year’s elections before they were postponed, and had he lived would have been a candidate in May this year.

Any elections this year might also see the last gasp of UKIP and the debut of Nigel Farage’s new Reform UK party.

Perhaps more seriously, it could be the last gasp of the Union, with the Scottish National Party set to make further gains at the expense of both Labour and the Tories, and perhaps setting the scene for a second independence referendum. The decision whether to postpone this year’s elections north of the border rests with Nicola Sturgeon’s devolved government, so it’s possible there could be elections in Scotland, but none in England or Wales. No elections are scheduled this year in any case in Northern Ireland.

Brexit Party changes name to Reform UK

Nigel Farage (third from right) visiting Donald Trump in happier times at Trump Tower soon after the President’s election victory in 2016, together with Raheem Kassam, Arron Banks, and colleagues from UKIP and Breitbart

Having received approval from the Electoral Commission, the Brexit Party has changed its name to Reform UK.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage founded the Brexit Party in 2019 to contest the European Parliamentary elections at a time when it seemed possible the 2016 referendum result might be overturned or diluted.

Having won 29 European seats in that election, the party collapsed six months later when having selected almost 600 parliamentary candidates Farage agreed to withdraw from more than half of these contests in order to give Boris Johnson’s Conservatives a clear run.

This morning Farage and Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice have written to members and supporters explaining the change. In their email (seen by H&D) they write:

“We must reform our approach to Covid, the House of Lords, the Civil Service and the BBC. We need to campaign hard on reforming the voting system and critically, we must reform the economy so that it incentivises the self-employed, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Faster growth for all will be achieved by reforming our taxes, unnecessary regulation and wasteful government spending.”

This makes fairly clear that unlike UKIP, or the 2016 referendum campaign, or the Brexit Party itself, which sought to be ‘all things to all men’, the new party’s pitch is radically neo-Thatcherite, US-style libertarian.

One problem is that (with the exception of electoral reform, which Farage is promoting for self-interested reasons, as would most small parties) this pitch is similar to one wing of Boris Johnson’s cabinet – the likes of Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss.

Another problem is that such ‘free market’ policies would (at least in the short term) be a disaster for many of the ‘left behind’ areas of England that voted for Brexit.

The ‘Movement News’ section in the new Issue 100 of H&D being printed today includes an update on the new Reform Party, its antecedents and competitors in post-Brexit, post-Covid Britain.

Lib Dems drop mayoral candidate in ‘anti-semitism scandal’

Geeta Sidhu-Robb, Liberal Democrat candidate suspended over ‘anti-semitism’

The Liberal Democrats, struggling to hold on to their status as the UK’s third largest political party, have run into a storm over ‘anti-semitism’ as they attempt to select a candidate for next May’s London mayoral election to take on Labour’s Sadiq Khan, arguably the most powerful Muslim politician in the Western world.

London Lib Dem members were set to choose between two potential candidates in a postal ballot this month, but one of those candidates has today been suspended after discovery of a video from more than twenty years ago where she made an ‘anti-semitic’ attack on senior Labour politician Jack Straw.

Straw is an Anglican Christian of partly Jewish ancestry, who served in several prominent roles under Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, most famously as Foreign Secretary during the Iraq war.

At the 1997 general election Geeta Sidhu-Robb was the Conservative candidate against Straw in his Blackburn constituency. Malawi-born Ms Sidhu-Robb tried to stir up Pakistani voters in Blackburn’s Asian ghetto, telling them via megaphone: “Don’t vote for a Jew, Jack Straw is a Jew. If you vote for him, you’re voting for a Jew. Jews are the enemies of Muslims.”

As a committed Europhile, former corporate lawyer Sidhu-Robb later defected from the Tories to the anti-Brexit Lib Dems, and ended up on the shortlist to become London mayoral candidate, until her ‘anti-semitic’ record was discovered this week.

Watch Tory candidate (now Lib Dem) Geeta Sidhu-Robb making an ‘anti-semitic’ attack on Labour’s Jack Straw. (The relevant section of the video begins after a few seconds.)

What surprises H&D is that alarm bells hadn’t rung sooner among the Lib Dem leadership. It was reasonably well known during the Straw years that several Blackburn Tories encouraged antisemitic anti-Labour campaigns in Asian areas of Blackburn, and Ms Sidhu-Robb’s remarks were actually broadcast in a Channel 5 documentary more than 20 years ago!

Perhaps the Lib Dems were so pleased to tick three political boxes with Ms Sidhu-Robb – ex-Tory defector, non-White, and female – that they didn’t engage their brains. Moreover some concerned activists, including former mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita, have alleged that Ms Sidhu-Robb was being courted by the party because of her wealthy connections and her role in the anti-Brexit pressure group Open Britain and its new campaign ‘Democracy Unleashed’, formerly known as the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign.

Today Ms Sidhu-Robb issued a grovelling apology in an effort to save her rapidly sinking political career:
“I am deeply ashamed of the ignorant and abusive language I used on one occasion in the 1997 General Election campaign. As shown in the footage, I instantly regretted my appalling behaviour, which I continue to do.
“Those words are entirely inconsistent with my views and values, and though there are no excuses for my actions, there is some context; that is, that I was under a great deal of strain and retaliated to the racial abuse I was receiving in Blackburn ‘like for like’.”

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