Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen of Britain First: British Free Speech Heroes Fighting Back in Northern Ireland
All of a sudden Britain First seem to have been catapulted into the news. I freely admit that until Donald Trump retweeted Jayda Fransen a couple of weeks ago, I knew relatively little about them. I had watched videos of them walking through the streets with crosses confronting Muslims outside mosques and found them a little too confrontational for my liking. I had seen others of them out leafleting on the streets of northern English towns and I must admit had been surprised to see the positive reactions they got from local people.
Finding Out About Britain First
I couldn’t get it out of my head that Britain First were the extreme and unreasonable elements of the anti-Islam movement, though. Every political movement attracts its fair share of unsavoury characters and I just assumed that’s what Britain First were. The media smear campaign against them was obviously extremely effective.
My opinion of them began to change after the Trump tweets. I looked into their policies and mission statement on their website and found everything perfectly acceptable. I certainly didn’t agree with everything but, as they describe themselves as a political party, that’s not surprising. I agreed with what they had to say about Islam, immigration and preserving British culture and certainly couldn’t find anything that could be described as racist and not a hint of fascism, quite the contrary, actually. Britain First struck me as a traditionalist party who wanted to go back to a time when the British were still proud to have fought against the Nazis.
Perhaps I would have left it at that had it not been for the arrest of Britain First leader Paul Golding at the trial of deputy leader at Belfast Magistrates court on Thursday accused of “using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour” following speeches at a Northern Ireland Against Terrorism rally in Belfast on 6 August. Then to add insult to injury, Jayda Fransen was arrested as she left the court following her appearance charged with “threatening behaviour” over remarks and posted on social media earlier in the week.
I was already aware that the couple had been arrested and convicted on a number of occasions and were currently obliged to make weekly check-ins at Bromley Police Station but two arrests on the same day seemed like a witch-hunt. It was time then to do due diligence, listen to what Britain First had to say and try to work out what it was that got them arrested.
I decided to listen to Paul Golding’s speech in Belfast in August and Jayda Fransen’s social media post earlier in the week. I have posted my impressions and links to videos below.
Paul Golding’s Speech in August
In his speech, Paul Golding comes out clearly as a Unionist, who wants to retain the unity of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. He talks a lot about returning this country to its former glory and how our forefathers fought against the Nazis. He also rails against corrupt politicians who think they can replace the British in their homeland and says that “Britain First is a declaration of war against every corrupt politician”.
Regarding his discussion of Islam, he states that he has “been up and down England, Scotland and Wales and […] some towns, Luton, East London, Blackburn, Bradford, they are no longer British. They resemble the third world or the Middle East. They are lost to our country.” For this reason, he says “its time to fight for our country just like our ancestors did.”
Golding is also quite outspoken in his defence of Pastor James McConnell, who in 2015 described Islam as “satanic” in response to claims by the leader at the Islamic Centre in Belfast, Raied Al-Wazzan, described life in Mosul under ISIS as being peaceful. Pastor McConnell was then criticised by both the press and the Ulster establishment. Golding’s basic argument is that Ulster is in the early stages of Islamic colonisation by Islam and the strongest language he uses in the speech is when he describes Al-Wazzan as a “vile violent human being”.
In a Northern Ireland context perhaps the most incendiary comment he makes is that while everyone remembers the Republican terrorism of the Troubles this will be replaced by the new threat of Islamic violence. He is very clear that he believes that the central concept in Islamic religious texts is Jihad and he goes on to remind the audience of the various different jihadist attacks in Europe and North America over the past few years. This is a serious problem particularly when you take into account high Muslim birthrates and other practices such as FGM, rape gangs, halal slaughter and the construction of new mosques.
Paul Golding closes his speech by expressing his support for Protestant Ulster Unionists and calls of “Britain First Fighting Back”. However, although one might disagree with some of what he says, there is nothing in the 17 minutes or so that can be described as “using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour”. The language is quite bellicose and combative but there is no explicit description of what “fighting back” might mean so it certainly isn’t a direct call to violence. This means that the only possible reason for his arrest is that the authorities object to the content of his speech so this is a direct attack on freedom of speech.
Jayda Fransen’s Social Media Post
Jayda’s post is a 2 mins 30 Periscope video filmed on her mobile phone next to a peace wall in Belfast, which was built to keep the Protestant and Catholic communities apart.In the post she specifically states that she is “not here to talk about the conflict or the reason for this particular wall” but she does use it as a symbol to portray Britain’s future. She says “This is Britain’s future everywhere in 2030”.
She states that Britain is at war “with an ideology that says in its holy scriptures that non-believers of that ideology must be killed”. She is obviously talking about Islam and warns that the islamification of Britain will end up with walls like this being built to separate Muslims from non-Muslims as the country descends into civil war. Like Paul in his speech, Jayda calls for immediate action because the inactivity of the British people is endangering future generations.
“It’s time to wake up for our kid’s sake and for the sake of everybody who fought bled and died for us to live in our Christian nation safely and peacefully,” she says. She goes on to say “It’s time that we all rose up against the biggest threat to the entire world, the Islamic ideology.” She closes by inviting everyone to join her “in taking our country back”.
Once again the language is combative but there is no direct call or encouragemment to violence. Jayda is in fact warning what will happen if violence begins so “taking our country back” could quite easily be by political means, community activism or peaceful demonstration.
As I begin this closing paragraph, I have just checked on Twitter and found out that Jayda was granted bail yesterday, despite police complaints, and Paul is due to make a court appearance on Monday. They haven’t been convicted yet because there’s nothing to convict them for but the legal proceedings they have to face will seriously hamper their campaigning capacity over the coming months or years.
Jayda, Paul and Britain First’s situation is very similar to what happened to Tommy Robinson and the EDL. They are being plagued by the legal system not only because they are criticising Islam but because they are working class. The establishment knows that people like Paul and Jayda are really capable of connecting with regular British working people and that’s what they’re scared of.
I have to say my opinion of Britain First has changed completely over the last two weeks and I apologise if I’ve come across as a book-learned intellectual snob. I agree with their basic message and now see them as being capable of rallying millions to what has to be a broad and plural movement against the despotic ideology of Islam.
We all need to stand together on this because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting Britain First and now the when the British people are under serious threat, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Fighting Back.