A Far Right group linked with racial violence is staging a Wigan demo.
Concerns are rising after the confrontational Britain First party – an even more extreme splinter of the BNP and EDL, confirmed when approached by the Evening Post today that its members will hold a Regional Rally in Wigan this Saturday.
However, despite describing itself as a “legitimate political party,” it refused point blank to say where or at what time. Instead a spokesman stated that supporters would be “re-directed” to the real venue on the day.
Wigan borough has little ethnic diversity. The spokesman said it had been chosen because of its central position in the North West and its strong motorway and rail communications.
Council leader Lord Smith said that Labour “regretted” Britain First had chosen to hold a rally in Wigan, adding: “They and their racist views are not welcome in our town. We will work with the police to ensure that any nuisance they try to cause is minimised.”
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said that despite desperate efforts by far right groups to “whip up hatred, racism and intolerance,” the area had consistently rejected their “message of hate.”
She said: “This town has a proud history of solidarity and compassion. “In the recent elections, hundreds of local volunteers turned out to campaign for Hope Over Hate. They are the people who really speak for the people of this borough and however hard they try, this party – like so many before them – will not find a natural home in Wigan.”
But the Britain First spokesman said: “Of course we have members in Wigan … and all over the North West. We have chosen Wigan because our members invited us to hold a Regional Rally there and also because of its central location. Labour have a lot of people who clearly don’t believe in democracy and remain frightened of free speech. No wonder they are anxious about our event.”
Opponents are asking the controversial party to pay for the extra policing the event will generate itself, rather than the cost for such predicted disruption falling on the council taxpayer.
Fran McCaul, of anti-racist coalition Wigan Hope Not Hate, said: “They are nasty and dangerous people.”
Britain First was founded by former BNP Belfast fund-raiser Jim Dowson who has known links with Loyalist paramilitaries after his volcanic split with leader Nick Griffin. The organisation has stood accused of raising funds by associating itself with other charities so that folk don’t realise they are donating to Britain First.
Members have staged high profile invasions of mosques and Islamic community centres in the capital as well as across the north. Its meetings primarily target Muslim communities.