Political Vacuum at 2019 Elections

Despite the Great Brexit Betrayal at Westminster, this year’s local elections bear witness to a vacuum where nationalist (and even eurosceptic) politics used to exist.

Nominations closed this afternoon with polling day on May 2nd, and though many councils have yet to publish their lists of candidates, it seems from H&D‘s early analysis that UKIP and its various splinters have put up smaller slates than expected, though almost everywhere UKIP remains well ahead of its rivals For Britain and Democrats & Veterans.

An exception is Epping Forest, where an efficient For Britain branch directed by former BNP election guru Eddy Butler is fielding two candidates, both of them ex-BNP, compared to one for UKIP. Former BNP councillor Mrs Patricia Richardson in Waltham Abbey Honey Lane and former London mayoral candidate Julian Leppert in Waltham Abbey Paternoster have already carried out extensive leafletting and are among the very few nationalist candidates with any chance of winning this year. Elsewhere in the borough English Democrat leader Robin Tilbrook is contesting his home ward of Chipping Ongar.

Stoke-on-Trent, once a jewel in the BNP crown, now elects its full complement of councillors once every four years, so 2019 should have been an important opportunity for both UKIP and Anne Marie Waters’ For Britain Movement, who presently have their sole councillor here.

Some anti-fascist “experts” had predicted a big slate of For Britain candidates here: in fact there are only three, including incumbent councillor Richard Broughan. Similarly UKIP have just three Stoke candidates.

A more impressive showing for Ms Waters’ party is in Leeds, where they are contesting eight of the 33 vacancies – in three of these they will have no UKIP opponent. UKIP have 16 Leeds candidates, and in Bramley & Stanningley ward voters will have UKIP, For Britain and the English Democrats on their ballot paper!

Another failure is in Burnley, where UKIP is contesting only three of the 15 wards and For Britain none. While racial nationalist parties are conspicuous by their absence from most ballot papers, there is one National Front candidate in Burnley – former BNP organiser Steven Smith, who we are pleased to note will have no UKIP opposition in the Brunshaw ward.

Other NF candidates so far declared include the party’s deputy chairman Jordan Pont in East Ecclesfield ward, Sheffield (where he unfortunately has UKIP opposition); and Chris Jackson in his home ward of Todmorden, Calderdale. Like Steven Smith, Chris has no UKIP opposition. Across Sheffield, UKIP are contesting 22 of the 28 vacancies, while D&V have three candidates, only one of whom has UKIP opposition. In Calderdale there are no UKIP candidates at all, and just one For Britain candidate.

Dr Jim Lewthwaite of the British Democrats

Former councillor Dr Jim Lewthwaite is again contesting Wyke ward, Bradford, for the British Democrats. He has no UKIP or D&V opponent and can expect a creditable result. The British Democrats are also contesting Loughborough Shelthorpe ward in Charnwood, Leicestershire.

Elsewhere in Bradford there are nine UKIP candidates, one from D&V, and none from For Britain, even though the latter’s head office is in the city!

For Britain (like the National Front before them) focused much campaigning energy in Rochdale following various Asian/Muslim scandals, but this has produced nothing electorally: UKIP will contest 16 of the 20 Rochdale wards, For Britain none. Even more startling is the total absence of nationalist/eurosceptic parties in Blackpool, an area that voted 75% for Brexit and where (as in Rochdale) there has been extensive campaigning by a range of anti-Islamist groups. For Britain supporters have talked for some time about targeting Blackpool, but they have not fielded a single candidate, and this year there will be no-one from Blackpool UKIP on the ballot paper either.

A similarly rare example of UKIP progress (at least in terms of candidates) is Oldham, where there is a serious slate of 14 UKIP candidates – though not the full slate of 20 that gullible “anti-fascists” had predicted. In nearby Tameside, UKIP have five candidates, Democrats & Veterans one, and For Britain none; while in Stockport there are six UKIP candidates and none from D&V or FB.

Yet another hopelessly inaccurate prediction by lavishly funded “anti-fascist experts” was in Hartlepool, where UKIP was said to have collapsed in favour of For Britain. In fact For Britain has just one candidate in Hartlepool, compared to three for UKIP, one for Democrats & Veterans, and a profusion of independents.

Thanks to boundary changes the most racially divided borough in England – Blackburn with Darwen – has an all-out election, so as in Stoke this should have been a bonanza year for any party seeking to recover some of the votes once cast for the BNP and the England First Party. Yet UKIP have just four candidates, and For Britain none.

Across the Pennines, UKIP is contesting only five of 21 vacancies in Wakefield; and eight out of 23 in Kirklees.

The English Democrats have staged a mini-revival in Barnsley, perhaps helped by the bold action of their leader Robin Tilbrook in launching a legal action to rescue Brexit. There are six EDs here (for 21 vacancies), compared to just three for UKIP and three from the UKIP splinter group Democrats & Veterans. D&V also have two candidates in Kirklees. Another English Democrat candidate is former NF and BNP activist Mick Sharpe, contesting Ripley & Marehay ward, Amber Valley.

In Sunderland UKIP have managed a full slate of 26 candidates, while For Britain and D&V each have just one. Elsewhere in the North-East the eurosceptic cause is less vigorous: Gateshead has seven UKIP candidates for 22 vacancies. Darlington is one of the very few councils anywhere in England where UKIP (with two candidates) has been overtaken by For Britain (with three). In Cheshire East the former UKIP councillor Brian Silvester (who has been re-elected unopposed as a parish councillor) is the sole For Britain candidate, and there is no-one from UKIP.

Another former nationalist heartland where none of the existing parties is reaping electoral potential is the West Midlands borough of Sandwell. UKIP and For Britain each have just four candidates here for 24 vacancies: the only good news is that only one ward has the parties fighting each other. Next door in Dudley there are fourteen UKIP candidates and none from For Britain.

Among the many former UKIP strongholds where the party has collapsed is Thurrock, where almost the entire former UKIP branch has regrouped as ‘Thurrock Independents’. They will have a full slate of seventeen candidates, while UKIP have only two. Similarly there are only three UKIP candidates this year in Thanet, where they once controlled the council and Nigel Farage once hoped to become an MP. The bulk of Thanet’s UKIP activists now call themselves ‘Thanet Independents’. Like their Thurrock counterparts, they will probably end up in Farage’s new Brexit Party, but this is gearing up to fight European (and perhaps General) elections, not local councils. For Britain has one Thanet candidate – ex-BNP parliamentary candidate Michael Barnbrook.

Veteran nationalist Joe Owens is contesting the Kensington & Fairfield ward of his native Liverpool, without a party description, but can be expected to run a professional campaign. Other nationalist independents include Paul Rudge, a Britain First activist standing in Rowley ward, Sandwell, with the party’s backing but without its name on the ballot paper; and former BNP activist Pete Molloy, standing in the Spennymoor ward of Durham.

During the next two days as councils continue to publish their lists of candidates, H&D will carry out a complete analysis of the nationalist/eurosceptic electoral picture, and of course our next edition will report on the election results and our movement’s prospects for recovery.

So far this year’s local election picture can be summarised as follows: UKIP has collapsed in many former strongholds, rather as the BNP did before its eventual death, while retaining pockets of strength. While his embrace of radical anti-Islamism has contributed to UKIP’s implosion, party leader Gerard Batten has the consolation that this same strategy has probably helped to stifle the For Britain Movement, whose founder Anne Marie Waters had hoped that anti-Islamism would be her party’s unique selling point.

Though failing to make a breakthrough in terms of defections from UKIP and overall candidate numbers, For Britain can reasonably hope to elect one or two councillors – perhaps in Stoke, perhaps in Epping Forest, perhaps in Thanet.

Overall however – while in past years we would have been looking at dozens of racial nationalist councillors, and hundreds of UKIP councillors – this year’s elections are likely merely to confirm the continuing crisis of both nationalism and euroscepticism, despite an obvious public appetite for alternatives to the Westminster charade.


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