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UKIP campaigners in Rochester embrace Britain First activist

UKIP campaigners in Rochester embrace Britain First activist

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday October 29 2014

The Independent and The Times report on a story about UKIP campaigners posing for a photo with an activist from the anti-Muslim far right group, Britain First, in Rochester. Both groups were out campaigning for the upcoming by-election for the parliamentary seat of Rochester and Strood prompted by the defection of incumbent, Mark Reckless MP, from the Conservatives to UKIP.

The photo showed three UKIP campaigners including former UKIP council candidate for Enfield, David Schofield, wearing party T-shirts and smiling with their arms around Britain First’s parliamentary candidate Jayda Fransen.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Fransen claimed the UKIP activists were “expressing their support of us and saying that they support our work and think we’re great and follow us online – so then someone said,  ‘Let’s get a picture together.’

“We were campaigning and they were doing a bit of campaigning that day as well so we were just having a chat about how our policies are very similar to UKIP’s, in fact they almost mirror them.”

A UKIP spokesman has rejected any suggestion that the photo discloses a common view, stating “We have no connection with Britain First and reject any association with them.

“A handful of our 200 campaigners on Saturday were photographed by Britain First without understanding the nature of the group and regret that very much.

“They were identified, contacted, advised, and accepted all the sensible undertakings we asked for.”

UKIP has further been accused of exploiting the Rotherham sex abuse scandal to win the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner election in the area after incumbent, Shaun Wright, stepped down following the publication of the Jay report.

UKIP have launched a “1,400 reasons to vote” campaign, referring to the Jay report’s estimate on the number of young white girls who were victims of abuse over a 16-year period.

It is noteworthy that UKIP’s new campaign is quite similar to Britain First’s ‘’Muslim Grooming: Britain’s Secret Shame’ campaign which has seen the far right group doorstep mosque officials and distribute literature against ‘Muslim grooming’.

The General Secretary of the Communication Worker Union, Billy Hayes, has urged for UKIP to be exposed as a racist party at a conference in Leeds in the wake of the incident and ahead of the by-elections in Rochester and Rotherham. 

He stated “we have to brace ourselves for a very serious fight. We need to get the largest number of people to stand up to racism and UKIP.

“Certainly we need something because far too many politicians want to compete for racist votes rather than fight racism.”

The Daily Telegraph today reveals that Britain First is far more popular online than any of the mainstream parties with its Facebook page boasting 500,000 ‘likes; more than the Conservatives on 293,000, Labour with 190,000 and the Liberal Democrats’ 104,000’.

And an article in The Guardian earlier this week explored details behind UKIP’s social media appeal. According to the article, “Ukip currently has 276,435 likes on Facebook, which is just 18,153 likes short of the Conservative party’s 294,588 and over 82,000 ahead of the Labour Party, which only has 193,788. The Liberal Democrats have 104,132, the Green party of England and Wales has 96,723 and the Scottish National party has 166,795.

“Unlike the other parties, Ukip is not just attracting young Facebook users, but is getting older users to engage. The Conservative and Labour parties see their main Facebook interactions among the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket, but Ukip are seeing most engagement from 25-34s and 45-54s.”

The photo of UKIP canvassers posing with Britain First is worrying for many reasons not least of which is the seeming popularity of the two far right groups as we approach the next general election.


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