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.

Is this the end for the English Democrats?

English-democrats--003

During the crumbling of Nick Griffin’s BNP after the 2010 general election, several of the party’s best activists opted to join the English Democrats. The main advocate of this move was Eddy Butler, the BNP’s East London election guru who had relocated to Epping Forest, where he masterminded several local council election victories but became a factional opponent of Griffin. Those who accepted Mr Butler’s advice included former Leeds city councillor Chris Beverley and Barnsley branch organiser Ian Sutton.

One undoubted advantage of the EDs is that the party’s founder and leader – Essex solicitor Robin Tilbrook – is a thoroughly decent and honest man.  Unlike Nick Griffin or his successors in the BNP, Mr Tilbrook puts money into his party rather than taking it out. But this year’s election nominations suggest that he might be running out of patience and optimism. (Most of the party’s recruits from the BNP have already dropped out.)

The EDs had announced that controversial former UKIP activist Winston McKenzie would be their candidate for Mayor of London, but at the close of nominations his was found to be invalid, due to one signatory having also nominated another candidate. Perhaps this was a straightforward if foolish error, but suspicious minds speculated that the EDs might have decided not to waste their £10,000 deposit (plus a further £10,000 to appear in the booklet and additional costs of a credible campaign).

Such suspicions were heightened when instead of the advertised fourteen or fifteen candidates in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, the EDs in fact nominated only four.  At the previous PCC elections ED candidates had saved several deposits, but the party leadership will be well aware that this time the turnout of major party voters will be much higher, since polling day coincides with local council elections. Consequently ED candidates are this time unlikely to save their £5,000 deposits in the PCC contests.

If the previously high-spending EDs have decided to cut costs, this might indicate the beginning of the end for the party.  Regrettably there is little political space for the English Democrats, unless and until UKIP’s challenge falls apart.

 

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