A far right group described as an “extreme organisation” has been allowed to officially register as a political party despite formal objections lodged with the Electoral Commission.
The white nationalist group, Homeland, applied to the Electoral Commission (EC) last May to become a political party. Its application has now been granted and the group is officially registered as the Homeland Party, allowing it to field candidates at elections across Britain.
Announcing its registration with the EC, Homeland Party claimed it is “returning politics to the bedrock foundations of nation and community” and would be calling for a “binding referendum on immigration”.
Critics, however, raised concerns. The Campaign Against Antisemitism said it is “extremely concerning when a far-right group successfully obtains political party status”. The Scottish Greens said Homeland’s “worldview has no place in a modern or progressive Scotland” and that voters would reject it.
In reply, Homeland said it was a “ridiculous notion” that the party was “far right, fascist or white nationalist”. The EC told The Ferret that “following our robust and thorough assessment process” it decided that Homeland’s application “met the legal criteria”.
Homeland Party was formed last April by Kenny Smith, a former British National Party Scottish organiser and election candidate. He led a breakaway faction of Patriotic Alternative (PA) activists after internal disputes with the far right group’s leadership.
Homeland Party describes Smith, its chairman, as a “staunch advocate for the indigenous people of these islands” and claimed he “is well known for guiding people toward sensible nationalism”.
In 2022, however, The Ferret gained access to a private chat group which Smith used to recruit neo-Nazis who had posed with weapons, shared a bomb-making manual, quoted a mass murderer, and said members should kill “for the greater good”.
Among the content shared by some in the group were guides to making improvised landmines and “automatic and concealable firearms”, a violent combat guide, and military tactics for white supremacists.
Smith also expressed support for a PA supporter who pleaded guilty to terrorism offences and urged PA members to write to him in prison.
Objections to Homeland’s application
A number of people submitted objections to the EC over Homeland’s application. One person said it is an “extremist organisation” whose supporters “pose a threat to minority communities” in the UK.
Another objector pointed out that Anthony Burrows, the Homeland Party’s “nominating officer”, had three shotguns confiscated from his home in 2021 by Derbyshire Police, and that the seizure was in part due to him “sharing links to terrorist literature”.
Burrows lost his gun licence at Derby Crown Court, and the court heard he allegedly posted a photograph of Adolf Hitler and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on Twitter, in response to being asked to “describe your politics with four people”.
The judge who threw out Burrows’ appeal said he had “demonstrated views that were sympathetic towards violence aimed at non-white ethnic or religious groups.”
Kenny Smith has also been in court over firearms. In 2022, as reported by The Ferret, he pleaded guilty at Portree Sheriff Court, Skye, after being charged with possessing excess ammunition.
He was admonished. An admonishment is a warning to a person convicted of an offence not to commit another crime, but no punishment is given alongside this warning. However, the offence is recorded as a conviction on state records.
Home Office concerns
Last August The Ferret revealed that the UK Government had contacted the EC over Homeland’s application.
PA had failed with seven applications to become a political party, one of which breached equality laws as it would prevent certain people from becoming party members.
The Ferret understands that PA’s failure to register as a party was one reason Homeland was formed.
In a leaked recording of a Homeland meeting last April, Smith said members who were not “well known nationalists who might be on the radar“ were writing an application under a different party name.
But the group registered as the Homeland Party. This caught the attention of the Home Office, which monitors potential terrorist threats from far right groups and others.
Homeland branded “fascist”
After Homeland was formed last year the anti-racist organisation Hope not hate said it would “attempt to distance itself from PA’s toxic reputation, but its membership and style activism will be the same as PA – including its focus on community politics”.
Pointing to Homeland’s presence at anti-asylum seeker protests in Erksine last year, Hope not hate added: “The new group also intends to continue its attempts to infiltrate local communities, in particular by piggybacking on local campaigns against accommodation being used to temporarily house asylum seekers.
“This includes in Erskine, Renfrewshire, where the ex-PA activists – now with Homeland – continue to present themselves merely as citizens who share similar concerns to the residents. This could not be further from the truth.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “It is obviously extremely concerning when a far-right group successfully obtains political party status, and even more so when this is achieved over formal objections. It shows how fringe groups are more organised than is often realised and underscores the very real risk of extremist ideology finding its way into mainstream politics.
“The influence of far-right propaganda will now not be limited to the internet and extremists’ meetings, but will extent to the ballot box as well. That should worry us all.”
Green MSP Maggie Chapman said: “The Homeland Party is the latest incarnation of the far right and reactionary politics of prejudice. They are not a legitimate political outfit.
“Time and again the people of Scotland have stood together and rejected the divisive and hateful politics of groups like Homeland, and we will do so again.”
Kenny Smith, chair of Homeland, told The Ferret: “During the registration process (with the EC) the public can make comment on any application and extremist far-left element attempted to discredit us using the three degrees of separation method. Most, in our view, were timewasters peddling smears which just slowed the process down and nothing more.
“I have a well-known reputation for warning those tempted by a wayward path to return to the straight and narrow. I have never condoned or encouraged violence.
“Anthony Burrows is an exceptional parish councillor without an extremist bone in his body. He continues to fight a civil action against Derbyshire police who acted rashly after demonising him unfairly over harmless non-PC memes on Twitter.
“The Home Office communication with the Electoral Commission was based on reports from the much-discredited left-wing pressure group Hope Not Hate, which had absolutely nothing to do with terrorist threats.
“Maggie Chapman is one of the most and totalitarian politicians in Holyrood.”
An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: “We assessed this application against the criteria set out in law, including consideration of public comments submitted to us. Where all elements of an application are compliant, the commission must register the party.
They added: “The law prohibits individuals from being the registered party treasurer if they have been convicted of an electoral offence in the last five years. Other types of conviction or ruling do not prohibit an individual from registration as a party officer.
“We refused Patriotic Alternative’s applications to register as a political party as the party’s constitution and financial scheme were not compliant with the law. Homeland Party’s constitution and financial scheme were compliant. The Homeland Party application was for a separate entity and submitted a different structure that was compliant with the law.”
This report was updated at 12.19 on 2/02/2024 to add a comment from the Electoral Commission.