The gloves come off in England

The arrest of Paul Weston, an anti-immigration campaigner in England, for repeating Winston Churchill’s unflattering observations about Islam in a public speech has been reported around the world with headlines from the US to Russia to Japan. Weston, who leads a small party called LibertyGB, was bundled into a police van outside the Guildhall in the town of Winchester, after being  arrested for suspected racial harassment.

It is a shocking event because to many people overseas, Britain is still a country where there is freedom of speech. But the Weston arrest is only the latest in a series of incidents that show that the British state’s gloves are coming off and police are coming down hard on anti-immigration campaigners — and they are not being too scrupulous about how they go about it, as the shocking arrests in of Clive Jefferson and Dawn Charlton in Cumbria last summer showed.

The two British National Party activists were both standing for local council elections in the town of Maryport and looked like giving the local Labour Party a run for their money, as both had been elected before and were popular figures.  But Labour were playing dirty and when the BNP pair discovered evidence of vote tampering in Allerdale Council they filed a 22-page dossier to the police.

Unbeknownst to them, the Labour Party was allowed to respond to the complaints with allegations of their own. Labour claimed that a BNP leaflet amounted to racial harassment. Clive and Dawn were totally unprepared for what happened next — their homes were raided by two squads of ten police officers each,  with dogs and weapons and with officers from the drugs squad in several police vans in a clearly well co-ordinated action. The raids had been part of an action called “Operation Motive” and had been ordered by the Chief Constable after consulting with the Labour Party leadership in the area.

Boxes of their possessions were taken away and both were held in police cells for 12 hours and fingerprinted before being released. It was an act of intimidation and humiliation that had a traumatic effect on Dawn, a 49-year-old mother of one, who had never been inside a police station before, far less charged and fingerprinted. The arrests had the predictable effect of derailing their campaigns. Both were charged but eventually, after several court appearances and after a protracted investigation, the entire case was dropped without explanation.

Then a few weeks ago, nine months after the original election, Dawn was again raided and again arrested  — this time on allegations that she herself had engaged in vote tampering! But again the investigation has been mysteriously dropped with no explanation.

Both Clive and Dawn have no doubt the arrests were meant to harass, intimidate and wear down any nationalist opposition to the Labour Party in the area. And they say the police have never investigated their own allegations of missing votes and interference in the count at Allerdale Council.

Vote tampering was the pretext for a police raid and arrest in another case where a BNP candidate was running Labour close. This previous case took place in Merseyside in 2012 where a popular BNP figure called Mike Whitby was running for the Liverpool city Mayorship when, without warning, the police raided his home. The moment that British police batter the front door down of the home of this respectable middle-aged man while his family look on, can be seen in this shocking  video.

Again the police refused to allow the BNP activist to attend the police station of his own accord, preferring a traumatic and highly visible raid.  Again the matter was dropped without coming to trial and after Mike Whitby’s campaign was effectively destroyed.

None of this is to suggest that vote tampering is not an issue in Britain.  It looks like it will be one of the biggest issues in the coming election. In boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, Rochdale, Luton and in Birmingham, where a judge described the voting system as being closer to that of a “banana republic,” stories of vote tampering using the postal vote system are rife and they always have a number of things in common: they nearly always concern vote farming in Muslim communities, the Labour Party are nearly always the beneficiaries,  and despite many complaints from the public, the police always refuse to take action.

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