Far-right group ‘distributed fake Labor and Tory leaflets in bid to influence by-elections’

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A far-right group mocked up fake Labor and Conservative party leaflets as part of attempts to mislead voters during two parliamentary by-elections, according to a new documentary.

Patriotic Alternative (PA) sought to persuade voters through their use of propaganda against voting for either the Labor Party or the Conservatives, the film claims.

The group distributed thousands of fake leaflets purported to be from Labor and published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), according to the Dispatches program to be aired on Channel 4.

The leaflets were handed out in the run up of the 2021 Batley and Spen by-election, the constituency of Labor MP Jo Cox – who was murdered by far-right extremist Thomas Mair outside her surgery office.

The leaflets show Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer taking the knee – a gesture used to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement – ​​state that the party “believes that the biggest threat to our precious multicultural society is whiteness”.

The Dispatches journalists said the aim to dissuade people in the constitution’s “heavily white working class areas” from voting Labor was revealed in two emails by Sam Melia, one of PA’s senior figures.

Fake Labor leaflets reportedly made by neo-nazi group Patriotic Alternative

(Dispatches/Channel 4)

The documentary makers say that, in one of the emails, Mr Melia said PA founder Mark Collett had “actually designed some spoof Labor leaflets that talk about how they take the knee for BLM…At least we can say we shaved off white votes from Labour…”.

A TUC spokesperson said: “The TUC has nothing to do with this leaflet, and condemns these dirty tricks. Whoever is responsible for this divisive leaflet does not deserve the votes of working people and should be ashamed of themselves.”

PA also distributed around 15,000 fake Conservative Party leaflets during the 2022 Southend West by-election – the constituency of murdered MP Sir David Amess – the Dispatches film also claims.

The leaflets, in purporting to be from the Conservatives, claimed that the Tories were “proud” to have “fast tracked 25,000 Afghan ‘refugees’ into Britain.”

The bottom of the leaflet shows a postcode in Pudsey, in the Leeds area of ​​West Yorkshire, that belongs to the registered address of the neo-Nazi group. The fake Labor leaflet had the real central London postcode of the TUC printed at the bottom.

Fake Conservative Party leaflet made and distributed by the PA group

(Dispatches/Channel 4)

Nick Lowles, CEO of Hope Not Hate, called for prosecution if it is established that the group had broken the law.

He said: “It is totally illegal to put out a leaflet in the name of another organization during an election, and it is incumbent on the authorities to really look into this and prosecute where the evidence exists.”

In response to the claims made in the film, PA said that filmmakers Hardcash Productions had declined their offer of an interview after the group had refused to send them a written comment.

PA founder Mark Collett wrote in a statement, that was later published on the group’s website: “Hardcash Productions has a long history of producing heavily biased and politicized hatchet jobs that push an anti-Brexit, anti-white, anti-British and pro- mass immigration agenda.”

The Electoral Commission has rejected PA’s applications to register as a political party. Since PA launched in 2019, it has created groups across Britain – and has claimed that up to 240 people join each month.

The Dispatches documentary The Enemy Within: Inside Britain’s Far Right will be aired on Channel 4 tonight (9 May) at 9.30pm.

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www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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