What next for Dowson?

Paul Golding, cardboard cut-out of Jim Dowson, Willie Frazer
Paul Golding, cardboard cut-out of Jim Dowson, Willie Frazer. Belfast, November 2013.

Jim Dowson, recently described as “the evil genius of British fascism” has announced his retirement from politics and resignation from Britain First, a group he set up following his departure from the BNP.

Dowson claims his resignation was prompted by family issues and his opposition to the groups tactics of invading mosques as “unacceptable and unchristian”.

This is not the first time the controversial anti-abortion campaigner has absconded from a far right group in dubious circumstances.

In 2010 Dowson quit the BNP taking with him Paul Golding who at that time was the racist party’s sole district councillor in southeast England. For several years Dowson effectively owned the BNP through his company Midas Communications, providing fundraising and membership support and in a two and a half year period raised £2m through offices in Dundonald. His exit from the BNP in October 2010 was prompted by accusations of sexual impropriety and financial irregularities.

Six months later Dowson had created Britain First, a campaign group to protect “British and Christian morality” and allegedly used the BNP database he had acquired to solicit support from 40,000 people.

In December 2012 Dowson turned his attention to the Belfast flag issue and became a familiar face at the numerous “peaceful protests” that subsequently descended into violence. Alongside Willie Frazer and Jamie Bryson he was arrested in March 2013 and charged with encouraging or assisting offenders and five counts of taking part in an un-notified public procession. He was released with strict bail conditions including a ban on the use any form of communication device both at home and at work, a ban on entering Belfast and on being within 1,000 metres of any parade. The majority of these bail conditions remain in place despite numerous court appearances including in July 2013 when Bryson appeared as his legal advisor.

The ban on the use of communication devices did not prevent Dowson from setting up a locally based offshoot of Britain First in March 2013. The so-called ‘Protestant Coalition‘ was described as “a party that does not want to be involved in politics” by fellow party member Willie Frazer. The non-political political party quickly established a sizeable following on Facebook thanks to posts containing pro-loyalist imagery, photos of members of the Royal family and bizarrely animal rights messages that followers were encouraged to ‘LIKE and SHARE’.

Dowson’s time with the Protestant Coalition ended in September 2013 when a series of homophobic rants aimed at the PUP’s attendance at Newry Pride appeared on Facebook. The PUP’s Izzy Giles took issue with this and took to social media to reply. Subsequently Dowson was ‘persuaded’ to leave the PC by forces unknown leaving the party in the hands of Frazer, Sam McCrory and Robert McKee – lurching from one calamity to another before throwing their support behind Henry Reilly and UKIP in the recent European and Council elections.

The break allowed Dowson to devote his energies to building up Britain First but he found time to support Willie Frazer when the latter arrived in court dressed as Abu Hamza in September 2013. For reasons known only to himself Dowson chose to wear a veil while Jamie Bryson appeared as a cross between Cher and Jon Bon Jovi.

Jim Dowson (far right) with Willie Frazer, Cher/Jon Bon Jovi & assorted Protestant Coalition members
Jim Dowson (far right) with Willie Frazer, Cher & assorted Protestant Coalition members

Britain First grew rapidly on Facebook using the same tactics employed by the Protestant Coalition, and disenchanted former members of the EDL flocked to join the party in the aftermath of the murder of Lee Rigby. Golding issued a ‘warrant‘ promising to arrest Amjem Choudary, the Muslim cleric who had ‘radicalised’ Rigby’s killers. Dowson spoke of building an “evangelical army” in preparation for a “holy war” between Christians and Muslims. Establishing street patrols, Britain First’s ‘Defence Force’ wear a uniform modelled on the 1912 UVF.

As the Britain First Facebook page soared to nearly 400,000 ‘likes’ the party have sought to capitalise on their online popularity by selling a range of t-shirts, badges, jackets, hoodies and hats. The party fielded candidates in the recent European elections but failed to capitalise on their online popularity achieving a paltry 20,272 votes across Scotland and Wales. During the campaign the party provoked outrage by using the slogan “Remember Lee Rigby” on voting slips enraging the Rigby family and prompting a change in the rules on political party descriptions by the Electoral Commission.

Police in Southend issued a warning to locals in April 2014 that a stall in the town was not as many thought, a Help for Heroes stall, but a stall run by Britain First. Dowson and Golding had been photographed in Scarva on July 13th 2013 collecting on behalf of the charity. When contacted Help for Heroes made it clear that they did not want their charity associated with any political cause.

Jim Dowson, Paul Golding and their trusty buckets. Scarva, July 13th 2013
Jim Dowson, Paul Golding and their trusty buckets. Scarva, July 13th 2013

In June 2014 Channel 4 broadcast an exposé on Britain First highlighting their “loyalist-style structure, with a political wing backed up by a more military-structured action force”. The mainstream press have highlighted the group’s ‘mosque invasions‘; activities Dowson was at pains to denounce in his resignation interview with the Daily Mirror calling them “a bit rude.” Paul Golding has now pulled the plug on the ‘mosque invasions’ but promised further “exciting projects.”

Britain First has been quick to condemn the Daily Mirror‘s Jim Dowson interview, calling it “Britain’s chief communist newspaper” and stating that their former ‘guru’ “has been showing the signs of strain and exhaustion for a long time”.

Deputy Leader Andrew McBride commented that “Mr Dowson has been subjected to the most distressing and frightening smear campaign from the media that has ever (sic) seen in British history. Not to mention the suffocating harassment and persecution from the Northern Ireland police state which has caused his large and growing family great distress and duress”. So there.

So what has really prompted Dowson’s ‘retirement’?

Perhaps a key phrase in the Mirror interview is that “Mr Dowson said he had pulled the plug on the group’s funding”. With standard membership of Britain First costing £30 (only £15 if ‘unwaged’) and a range of tempting goodies on offer, the financial arrangements agreed as a result of the split should make interesting reading. Of course there is also the small matter of the ongoing court case. Dowson remains bound by strict bail conditions and his case is due to be heard in the coming weeks.

One thing is for sure. We haven’t heard the last of Jim Dowson.

[twitter_follow username=”https://twitter.com/The_Firemen” language=”en”]