The England First Party (EFP) is a minor English nationalist political party. It had two councillors on Blackburn with Darwen council between 2006 and 2007.
Formation and policies
They were formed in 2004 by Mark Cotterill who had been the founder and chairman of American Friends of the British National Party (BNP). However, he began to disagree with the BNP politically, and so formed the EFP, after a spell in the White Nationalist Party.
The EFP differs from the BNP in its analysis of the United Kingdom. It criticises British nationalism and supports English nationalism instead. Most members of the EFP are former BNP members like their chairman, Cotterill.
The EFP campaign against the creation of regional assemblies across England. They also campaign on issues such as opposing immigration; and opposing the UK's continued membership of the European Union.
On the economy, the EFP support the gradual nationalisation of most national and public services in attempts to achieve autarky. While not aiming to abolish capitalist ownership, the EFP claim the interests of workers is paramount and subsequently support worker co-operatives. The EFP would also end the connections between trade unions and the Labour Party while encouraging trade union membership. The EFP would re-nationalise the coal mines and would re-open mines which had a "reasonable working life".
It sells its Heritage and Destiny paper-magazine that sells 4 issues every year since July 1999 which gives out the news on the progress of racial nationalism in Britain, Europe and America.
Policies on religion
The EFP has been criticised in the past for a section of its manifesto that promised "the abolition of all non-European faiths and religions". On June 4, 2010 Mark Cotterill issued a statement that "far from wishing to ‘abolish’ any religion (from the East or West!), the EFP is committed to traditional English values of religious freedom." The current version of the party manifesto, last edited 28 April 2010, does not contain the call for abolition of non-European religions.
In their first electoral test, a local government by-election in February 2004 for the Heysham South ward in Lancaster the EFP polled 14%. In the May 2004 local elections, the EFP contested 3 seats in Blackburn, Preston and Macclesfield, polling an average of 18% of the vote.
Two candidates contested the May 2006 local elections in Blackburn, polling an average of 37% of the vote and both were elected as councillors. In a by election in the East Rural ward of Blackburn in September 2006, they polled 13%. They also contested a by election in the Danehouse and Stoneyholme ward in Burnley in February 2007, polling 7%. Steven Smith and Simon Bennett stood in the Cliviger with Worsthorne and Queensgate wards respectively, at the 2007 Burnley council elections. Smith came a very distant 2nd with Bennett 3rd in a closer vote.
The EFP fielded 7 candidates for the 2010 local elections three of them to compete against the BNP in Stoke, but it did not stand in the General election and they had encouraged EFP supporters to vote for the NF.
In the Preston Ribbleton ward, Mark Cotterill came fourth place with 315 votes; it came fourth place in the St James ward in Oldham with 425 votes, in the Bradley ward of Pendle it received 279 coming fourth place and sixth place in the Ince ward of Wigan with 134 votes.
In March 2007 the EFP's two councillors announced their intention to quit. Michael Johnson stated that he would be joining a new party created by himself and Tony Melia For Darwen, while Mark Cotterill signalled his intention to stand down as a councillor and party leader at the 3 May local elections. Johnson's move followed a rift with the party after he objected to an anti-Islamic cartoon of Jesus on YouTube, while Cotterill—who remains a leading EFP activist—has put his decision down to a work-related move to Preston.
Defection to England First Party
On 1 May 2009, a former British National Party councillor, John Gamble, confirmed that he has defected to the EFP, after criticising the BNP. In the preceding months, he had become increasingly disillusioned with the BNP’s national and local leadership, this resulted in him being expelled from the BNP. He sat as an Independent for a few days and then he decided to "join a party that offers a serious, radical challenge to the corrupt political establishment".
Support to the English Democrats
In May 2009, the England First Party decided to stand a candidate in the County council elections in Lancashire but did not stand any European candidates. For the European Parliament, the England First Party worked with the English Democrats and even attended and spoke at the English Democrats' conference in Darwen. Mark Cotterill has stated that both parties have their differences on race, immigration and independence but they still have one thing in common which is withdrawal from EU and putting England first.