IT’S the intervention nobody on the Yes side will want: Jim Dowson, hard line Orangeman, militant anti-abortionist, founder of the far-right Britain First, and the man The New York Times claims was responsible for the fake news campaign that helped get Donald Trump into the White House, has thrown his weight behind Scottish independence.
An SNP MP has described the development as a “cheap gimmick from a very unsavoury individual to sabotage independence.”
According to civil rights group Hope Not Hate the controversial figure has promised to campaign vigorously for the Yes side in a second referendum.
Loading article content
Dowson, a former paper napkin salesman from Cumbernauld, is one of the most influential figures on the far right and claims to have raised millions for the BNP.
He was a prominent Unionist, and spent time in Northern Ireland, leading protests at the decision by Belfast council not to fly the Union Flag every day of the year.
Some of these protests led to clashes between Loyalists and police, sparking riots. Dowson was given a three-month suspended jail sentence for his part.
According to Hope Not Hate, who spoke to him in Budapest, where he was appearing at a conference with former BNP leader Nick Griffin, Dowson will use racism to spearhead his campaign, in the hope of spreading division.
He says he wants Scotland to leave the UK as “England is stuffed, England is stuffed totally,” and that an independent Scotland “would protect us from the excesses of Muslim domination.
“In an independent Scotland, the whole political landscape would change,” Dowson claimed, saying it would mean Nicola Sturgeon and what he described as the SNP’s “gang of criminals” would be removed from power.
According to a message on one of his sites, Dowson intended to: “spread devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and sound bites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning.”
This included the Patriot News site which linked Hillary Clinton to Satanism, paedophilia and other conspiracies.
He told Hope Not Hate: “I had an influence, but did I get Trump elected? I don’t think so. They [‘left-wing American media’] said I did.”
He committed to attempting to have the same influence on voters over Scottish independence: “I will be very specific,” he said. “I will be anti-immigration from countries that are alive with terror suspects ... If people want to come in from Eastern Europe, fine. If you [they] want to come in and freeload they won’t be able to do that anyway, because they [the Scottish Government] won’t be able to pay for Somalis as they will be broke.”
SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said there would no space for Dowson in a pro-independence campaign: “This sounds like a cheap gimmick from a very unsavoury individual to sabotage independence.
“The Yes campaign is and will remain an inclusive one which embraces and welcomes all faiths and races. There is no room for racism or the people who espouse it in the new Scotland and they won’t be part of the campaign to win it.”
Dowson split with Britain First in 2014 and has since been spotted in eastern European countries with his latest venture, the Knights Templar International (KTI), along with former BNP leader Nick Griffin.