Our Dealings with Britain First

By Peter Adams

As we launch St Mary’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation website and blog, we are planning to fill in some of our history, and especially focus on the stories of events where we have learnt the lessons that lie at the heart of our work.

I recounted the story of our engagement with Britain First (BF) between late May 2015 and December 2016 on my personal blog last December. 

Paul Golding of Britain First jailed for "deliberate and cynical defiance" of court order banning him from mosques

Eighteen months ago far right group Britain First planned a demonstration in Luton, surely a decision that they would come to regret.   Today former leader Paul Golding was sentenced to eight weeks in prison and £11,500 costs. A short sentence but a huge cost that may well break the organisation, a registered political party. It's a great development and the story deserves to be told. [more …]

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My piece follows the twists and turns from that point, with a lot of links to parts of the story. It was story of the church’s continued engagement with the organisation, of ourselves and the Muslim community consistently challenging their narrative, and of Bedfordshire Police’s successfully pursuing a civil injunction against their activity. 

Looking over it all seems a lot shorter, simpler and to be honest successful that the engagement with the English Defence League (EDL). However what we did was built on the lessons of years of experience with EDL.  And perhaps as significantly reflected the fact that BF were not based in or strongly represented in Luton.

Britain First may be banned from Luton, but have not gone away. They caused a scene at a demonstration against racism in London this past weekend, have a demonstration in a couple of weeks in Darwen, Lancashire, and continue to pour out large volumes of hatred on social media.  Where we can challenge them we will – despite their being banned from Luton.