Less than two months ago, The For Britain Movement (“For Britain”) officially became a political party in the UK, after registration with the Electoral Commission on 9th March 2018. Founded by Anne Marie Waters, ex Labour candidate and runner up in the 2017 UKIP leadership contest, For Britain managed to stand fifteen candidates in the local elections on the 3rd May, no mean feat.
Tarnished and smeared as ‘far right’, closer examination of the party reveals a mix of policies that cross the political spectrum. It is hard to define the ten major pledges as left, right or centre. The willingness to acknowledge the issues surrounding Islam in Western society is of course enough to create hysteria (and the far right label), but early signs are that the establishment should take this party seriously.
The void left by UKIP has left many voters in the wilderness. Unable to connect with the perceived indecisive and weak leadership of Theresa May, or appalled at the lurch to the hard left of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, For Britain is offering a home to those who it calls ‘ordinary British people’. Interestingly, with such a short time to fully vet candidates, a couple proved to have had a dubious history on social media and slipped through the net to stand as candidates. But unlike UKIP, so often accused of inaction with racists, or Labour with anti-Semitism, For Britain acted immediately and the candidates are now no longer members of the party. The message is clear, this isn’t a party that will tolerate the genuine far right, and this is precisely why the establishment should sit up and take notice.
So what does this mean? Well, plans are to continue setting up regional branches, with a large drive for supporters willing to stand in future elections. Members have already joined in their thousands, with many being unhappy UKIP voters, but many also being traditional ex Labour and Conservative voters.
As the party chairman recently commented “For Britain will appeal to traditional Labour voters, particularly in the north of England, who have been completely let down by their old party. Seven out of ten Labour constituencies voted Leave in the Brexit referendum and many see the mixed messages from their party as a betrayal of their wishes. They also do not believe that the Westminster elite understand the impact on jobs and services caused by excessive immigration, and with UKIP’s demise, see For Britain as the party to represent their concerns. As For Britain is an anti-racist, anti-extremist party, those appalled by the anti-Semitism that is now seemingly out of control under Corbyn have an alternative. Equally, Conservatives see a message of non-politicised policing as appealing, along with a firm message of leaving the EU with no ifs or buts. I actually see For Britain as a centrist party with lots of common sense policies that most decent people would agree with during a normal non-politicised conversation”.
So this should be sounding alarm bells for other parties. In no time at all, For Britain has beaten UKIP, The Greens and the Lib Dems in some wards during the elections on May the 3rd, not bad for a party that didn’t exist two months ago. The policies will resonate with many people, and the current climate for radical change in UK politics may just see a groundswell of support. As their actions with extremist views and comments have shown, calling For Britain ‘far right’ won’t make them go away. It promises to be an interesting twelve months ahead to see how Anne Marie Waters and her team progress against a backdrop of an increasingly fractured political Britain. They say timing is everything, and it is hard to imagine that Anne Marie Waters could have chosen a better time to launch her party.