Is this the end for the English Democrats?

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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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