UKIP misses broadcast target as NF overtakes dying BNP

UKIP leader Gerard Batten (left) with EDL founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (alias ‘Tommy Robinson’) whose increasingly close relationship with the party has prompted Nigel Farage and others to resign.

The United Kingdom Independence Party will have 1,382 candidates at the local council elections on May 2nd, according to an analysis by Heritage and Destiny. Our estimate is based on documents from 270 English councils and does not yet include Northern Ireland, where candidate totals have not yet been published. (There will also be a few UKIP local by-election candidates, and three Mayoral candidates on the same day.)

This is less than half the number that UKIP had aimed for to qualify for a television broadcast.

However even to reach this number (given the collapse of many UKIP branches) involved a colossal effort by the party’s national headquarters, twisting the arms of local members.

There are several councils where UKIP even its present state has managed to put up a full slate of candidates for every vacancy: these include Derby, Sunderland, North Tyneside, Worcester, Bolton and Eastleigh.

Alan Graves, leader of the UKIP group on Derby City Council, one of the party’s most successful branches

However there are others where the party is now reduced to a token effort or has disappeared from the electoral map: these include Blackpool, Fylde, Lincoln, Basildon, Solihull and Middlesbrough. Most notably UKIP has been almost obliterated in its former strongholds of Thurrock (where it is down to two candidates) and Thanet (a council UKIP used to control but now has only three candidates). Numerous former UKIP councillors are standing in these areas as ‘Thurrock Independents’ or ‘Thanet Independents’.

The good news for Gerard Batten’s party is that in the absence of his most important rival Nigel Farage – whose new Brexit Party is sitting out these local elections and concentrating on potential European and General Elections later this year – UKIP has comfortably outshone three other splinter parties. We are not yet aware of any local council candidates formally designated as ‘Brexit Party’, though in practice a number of ‘Thanet Independents’ and ‘Thurrock Independents’ will probably end up following Farage.

The For Britain Movement founded by former UKIP leadership candidate Anne Marie Waters will have 42 council candidates nationwide, according to H&D‘s analysis. These include eight in Leeds; four in the West Midlands racial battleground of Sandwell; three in Stoke; and perhaps most significantly two in Epping Forest. These latter two – former BNP councillor Patricia Richardson and former BNP London mayoral candidate Julian Leppert – are among the few candidates from the broad spectrum of British nationalism who have a chance of winning this year.

Anne Marie Waters on the by-election campaign trail with former BNP election guru Eddy Butler, who now runs For Britain’s strongest branch

Another UKIP splinter group Democrats & Veterans, founded by former UKIP leadership candidate John Rees-Evans, has 17 candidates in the main local elections, plus one in a London Borough of Lewisham by-election. The strongest D&V branches are in Yorkshire, where they have three candidates in Barnsley and three in Sheffield.

The English Democrats won over a few BNP defectors during 2010-2011, and though most of this group have since left the party, ED leader Robin Tilbrook has scored a publicity coup in recent weeks after launching a legal action to rescue Brexit. The EDs have ten local council candidates this year, including six in Barnsley. In the Derbyshire borough of Amber Valley their sole candidate is former NF and BNP activist Mick Sharpe.

The Veterans’ and People’s Party has a manifesto that combines independence from European control with some traditionally socialist / social democratic policies on housing and welfare. Their interim leader is Robin Horsfall, an SAS veteran of the famous Iranian Embassy siege in 1980. VAPP have seven candidates in different council areas.

UKIP’s short-lived leader Henry Bolton, who was forced to quit in February 2018, now leads a tiny party of loyal followers called Our Nation: they have five candidates this year, all but one of them in Dover.

NF candidate for Brunshaw ward, Burnley, Steven Smith (left)

There are no elections this year in London or Birmingham, which has drastically reduced the number of potential National Front candidates. In fact there are just three NF council candidates this year: deputy chairman Jordan Pont in Sheffield; Chris Jackson in Calderdale; and Steven Smith in Burnley.

Despite this relatively modest campaign, 2019 might go down in history as the year the NF overtook the BNP. The truth is that the NF has for a year or two now been much the more significant nationalist organisation, in all but the financial sense. Nevertheless it will shock many observers that the BNP are down to just two council candidates this year, one in Broxbourne and the other in Sevenoaks.

Dr Jim Lewthwaite, British Democrats chairman and one of last year’s most successful nationalist candidates.

The British Democrats (mostly made up of former BNP members) will have two candidates this year. Former councillor Dr Jim Lewthwaite again contests Wyke ward, Bradford, where he achieved one of last year’s best nationalist results; while Kevan Stafford contests Loughborough Shelthorpe ward, Charnwood.

Former BNP organiser Dr Andrew Emerson continues to run his breakaway party Patria, and will again be the party’s sole candidate in Chichester.

Similarly the British Resistance party, closely associated with controversial ex-UKIP candidate Jack Sen, will have just one candidate this year – Mr Sen’s ally Carl Mason in Worcester.

Several prominent nationalists are supporting the Populist Party‘s campaign in Sunderland, where they will have two candidates in the scheduled May 2nd elections, plus a third in a by-election held the same day.

Pete Molloy, an Independent nationalist candidate in Spennymoor

There are also several veteran nationalists standing as Independents or without a party label this year. These include Pete Molloy in Spennymoor ward, Durham; Alan Girvan in Heckmondwike ward, Kirklees; and Joe Owens in Kensington & Fairfield ward, Liverpool.

The eager publicity-seekers of Britain First have failed to register with the Electoral Commission as a political party, so their name cannot appear on ballot papers. However Paul Rudge (a Britain First activist) will be standing as an independent in Rowley ward, Sandwell, as will his Britain First colleague Geoff Miles in Ware Trinity ward, East Hertfordshire.

Summary of eurosceptic / nationalist candidate totals at 2019 local council elections:

  • UKIP 1,382
  • For Britain 42
  • Democrats & Veterans 17
  • English Democrats 10
  • Veterans’ and People’s Party 7
  • Our Nation 5
  • National Front 3
  • Populist 3
  • British Democrats 2
  • BNP 2
  • Britain First (standing as independents) 2
  • British Resistance 1
  • Patria 1
  • Independents 3

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