The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
Far-right political organisation Britain First have unsurprisingly come under scrutiny recently for their ‘patriot migrant patrols’ across South England. Following the mass eviction of migrants from various makeshift refugee camps in Calais, the group took to stationing themselves on various beaches equipped with torches, binoculars and hi-vis jackets in order to spot migrants attempting to enter England via the Channel. On first hearing about ‘Operation White Cliffs’ where Britain First have undertaken to hinder desperate people seeking refuge, it is preferable to try and withhold immediate feelings of contempt. After all, wouldn’t we all like to think that even those who disagree with our own views at least respect that they are valid? Of course. However, this becomes slightly more tricky when self-contradiction keeps getting in the way.
“Our people have had enough” asserts Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, in their supporting video for the ‘campaign’, but it quickly became unclear to who in fact he is referring to. Britain First members? The British people? Yes, most Britain First members could be assumed to be in support of this, but such a sweeping statement requires clarification and was met by public opposition. The first beach patrols were swiftly followed by uproar from local residents, the emergency services and various charities and anti-racism organisations, such as Care 4 Calais. It is clear the disdain the group have for the fact that it is mostly men arriving on the beaches which begs the question, have “our people” had enough of male migrants alone? Does this mean Britain First would sympathise with the plight and the trauma of young and female migrants making this journey?
Confused? Me too.
However, if denying a safe space to migrants who have already arrived in Britain (after literally crossing an ocean) was not enough, Britain First are now directly ignoring advice given in a public statement by the Home Office. Members of the public were urged to “not take direct action against any individuals or groups.” Mr Golding, however, likened the group’s patrols to the British defence against “Europe’s most infamous tyrants” during World War Two. Although, traumatised migrants arriving in small groups on dinghies sounds fairly different to a large-scale Nazi invasion.
Ultimately, Britain First are contradicting their own name with these patrols, they’re not putting Britain First. By taking on the role of vigilantes, the group are putting across a message to the rest of the world that does not represent Britain. Of course, illegal migration is not condoned by Britain’s national interest and this has been confirmed by the Home Office who commented, “we are working closely at all levels with the French authorities to tackle this dangerous and illegal activity.” However, the key difference resonates in the word “dangerous”. Britain First seem to have no regard for the safety of migrants and appear unable to look beyond nationality and view people for what they are, people. Yes, crossing the Channel in a dinghy is an illegal attempt at entering Britain, but considering coast guards patrol beaches, what is the need for Britain First to station themselves at beaches, heightening the tension of the situation? Regardless of political opinion, the unwelcoming and threatening message that Britain First’s patrols are portraying do not put anyone’s interests first except their own.