A far-right group recruiting in Scotland with links to neo-Nazis has applied to register officially as a political party.
Patriotic Alternative (PA) is a white nationalist group set up in 2019 by Mark Collett, an extremist from Yorkshire who was once head of publicity for the British National Party.
An application in January by PA was rejected by the Commission as it was “incomplete”.
The Commission is an independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK.
Commenting on PA’s new application, the Campaign Against Antisemitism warned against an “intimidating far-right faction” in the UK being given the status of a registered political party.
PA claims its aim is to “raise awareness of issues such as the demographic decline of native Britons in the United Kingdom, the environmental impact of mass immigration and the indoctrination and political bias taking place in British schools.”
But PA has links to extremists and its leader, Collett, was exposed in a Channel 4 documentary saying he admired Adolf Hitler. He also made derogatory comments about AIDs, black people, drug users and gay people.
Anti-racism group Hope not Hate describes PA as “fascist” and “anitisemitic”.
Its report this month said PA is a “major player” in the UK’s far right scene. Hope not hate said the group’s emergence was “one of the most notable developments on the far-right scene in 2020, but added the group is not expected to grow significantly this year.
The Commission says it aims to reach a decision on registration applications “as soon as possible”. To register, political parties must show they are set up to be able to meet the obligations of electoral law.
They must have a party constitution and a financial scheme “showing that it has the processes in place to comply with electoral finance laws”. They must also provide details of at least two officers, who must fill the roles of registered leader, treasurer and nominating officer.
The Commission assesses whether the party’s application and identity marks meet the criteria set out in electoral law, as well as legal obligations under equality laws.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism voiced serious concerns over PA’s application.
A spokesperson for the group told The Ferret: “Patriotic Alternative is led by the former head of the youth wing of the BNP and appears to be a party cast in the BNP’s image. Not only was the BNP repeatedly rejected at the ballot box but it was also the first political party to be subject to action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
“Patriotic Alternative targets impressionable young people and, if it gains the status of a registered political party, will be another divisive and intimidating far-right faction. British politics has no need of that, but we are also confident that the British public will shun it. The people of this country are tolerant and decent.”
Joe Mulhall, senior researcher at Hope not hate said: “The real danger posed by Patriotic Alternative is on the streets, not at the ballot box, and in radicalising vulnerable young people. That is where the worry lies, especially when there have been record arrests of young men turning to far-right terror.
“For all its attempts at presenting a slick face on social media and its attention-raising stunts, Patriot Alternative remains a neo-nazi movement at heart, run by long-time neo-nazis. No-one should be fooled into thinking otherwise, and certainly not during elections.”
The Ferret recently revealed that some supporters of PA in Scotland posted racist and anti-Semitic messages in a private group on the app Telegram.
The private group of around 60 people contained individuals who have been members of, or expressed support for, the Scottish Defence League, neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour, the British National Party, New British Union, British Union of Fascists and the Scottish Nationalist Society.
When asked to comment then, a spokesperson for PA Scotland said: “We don’t deal with anti white scum!”
It emerged this week that Jayda Fransen, a former deputy leader of the far right Britain First movement, will stand as an independent in the Glasgow Southside constituency which is being contested by both Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar.