Britain First deploys ‘self-victimisation‘ to reinforce group identity and support online. This strategy extends to a recent outrage with the Electoral Commission.
On March 9, an article headlined ‘Electoral Commission: “Keeping London British! Is Offensive Slogan’ made bombastic claims of censorship. But it sounds familiar.
The party made similar claims against Royal Mail in 2014. Royal Mail can refuse to deliver election materials if they consider it threatening or abusive. Paul Golding ignored this detail as Britain First were ‘victims’ of a greater perceived injustice.
Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (Section 29 2b), the Electoral Commission can reject ballot emblems if they deem it ‘obscene or offensive’. The Electoral Commission reiterated this point to the party. But Britain First accused them of acting as the “Commissar for Political Correctness” in elections. Again, the party reinforces accusations of censorship to party faithful.
This strategy serves a dual function: policies in the age of multiculturalism and ‘PC culture’ have a detrimental impact on the party and its supporters. Britain First rejects the label of ‘racist party’. And argues that they are victims of ‘job stealing’ and ‘welfare stealing’ migrants. Britain despite Muslims making up less than 5 per cent of the total population in England and Wales. These contradictions are never addressed. Britain First tailors their language and output to reflect the anxieties of those who ‘like’ their page. Reinforcing these anxieties are not always enough. Presenting solutions can build group identity and raise the potential of donations.
A strategy of targeted donations has paid off in the past. Britain First topped the Electoral Commission’s donations league table for smaller parties last year. In 2014, the party had tripled its donations from 2013 to £159,516 – but spent most of it on campaign work. This is a strategy that extends to supporters in Australia, Canada and the United States.
Like other far-right parties, Britain First seeks mainstream credibility. Jayda Fransen, deputy leader, sought that in the Rochester and Strood by-election. It mattered little that the party achieved just 56 votes. Fransen had posed for a photo with the BBC’s Nick Robinson (who later apologised for his error). The extra media attention had little to do with local issues in the Rochester and Strood area. Britain First wanted national attention for their anti-mosque campaign in the neighbouring constituency.
Jayda Fransen also admitted that the mayoral campaign is a PR move to increase their public profile. Fransen wrote:
‘The benefits to standing in the London Mayoral Election will be immense: Each Mayoral candidate is entitled to a two-page spread in a booklet that is delivered to 10 million people in London, 45% of which are still ethnically British.
Each Mayoral candidate will no doubt receive a lengthy Daily Politics interview and a plethora of other high profile media attention.
Contesting this election will cement Britain First as a powerful force on the “Right” of politics and will massively increase our public profile.’
Some of the top comments from some Britain First supporters to Electoral Commission story had the intended outcome. And it included:
‘OFFENSIVE? I don’t live there but such an insipid attitude offends me. If London isn’t British, then what is?’
‘London IS British. Whoever objects to that slogan is obviously some left-wing pond life.’
‘well if you guys don’t tell people to say it you are not breaking the law … so … Keep London British … stop the dismantling of the Westminster system and only recognise British law …’