That Time I Was Thrown Out of a Britain First Conference by Jayda Fransen's Close Protection Team

It was shortly after a lunch of egg sandwiches and wedges that I realised I was about to be thrown out of Britain First's annual conference, hosted in a private room, in a castle-like hotel, on the outskirts of Sheffield. I was glad. It was over.

It was shortly after a lunch of egg sandwiches and wedges that I realised I was about to be thrown out of Britain First's annual conference, hosted in a private room, in a castle-like hotel, on the outskirts of Sheffield.

I was glad. It was over.

Greed had got me caught.

Acting as an unofficial stenographer, I was delighting in eavesdropping on a conversation to my left between two women which I thought answered the one question I had going into Saturday's conference. What type of person supports Britain First?

A stupid person.

Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen and leader Paul Golding at the party's annual conference

The woman began: "I don't know what he's saying, it goes well over my head. But he's well smart. He uses lots of long words. Like more than three words. I was going to tell him he was well smart but I felt stupid."

At this point supporters had already passed policies including banning Islam in the UK; had decided to leave the UN, and outlawed the word "racism" in the media (it was silencing their voice of reason). The latter prompted my favourite Britain First supporter quote from a man who voted for it, but whose comment was clearly against it. He called out: "We're the human race so we should be allowed to be racist".

Amusingly, the woman wasn't speaking about Britain First leader Paul Golding.

Was the man with the vocabulary a local councillor? An official? An academic? The group pondered, before the woman continued: "He looks like a hoarder. Like he lives in a big house with piles of shit around him." He kind of did.

With the man's standing in the community still unclear, the woman offered some insights into her battle to be heard in an overly-PC, Islama-fied world. It seemed even her son had been radicalised.

He had "come home and called me a racist, which is nice". He was 13, she told the group, that "awkward" age where if "it doesn't have boobs he's not interested".

"I feel sorry for him. He'll understand when he's older," she said.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, paranoia was high. Of the 60-odd guests at the Sitwell Arms Hotel, at least 10 were security guards, dressed head-to-toe in black. Where possible, it seemed, the clothing was all official Britain First merchandise.

Before even getting to the venue I had passed through two re-direction points, been photographed, frisked and had my bag searched.

Weeks before the conference, the Chesterfield Borough Council had cancelled their venue booking, citing "the risk of public disorder". The party could not risk the new venue being compromised.

So at 11.30am, as directed by the conference flyer I arrived at what I thought to be the venue. The Days Inn Hotel, Welcome Break, some 12 miles outside of Sheffield.

I never saw the Days Inn Hotel, but near the carpark three men were dressed all in black. One with a tribal tattoo on one hand, a swallow on the other, and Love And Hate inked across his knuckles, asked for some ID. I gave him my driver's license. He wanted a Britain First membership card. I explained I wasn't a member. The flyer for the event said all "patriots" were welcome - for a £5 cover charge. He knew nothing of the flyer. A fellow security guard whose t-shirt identified him as being part of the "Taliban Hunters" branch of the party handed me a notice. Next stop Main Road, Reinshaw - some 3.6 miles away - "look out for the British flags", the notice informed.

I caught a ride with a fellow conference goer. A Welshman, whose face was hidden beneath a cap, and clouds of smoke from a rollie cigarette he puffed.

I climbed in the back of his two-door Opel Tigra, careful not to dislodge his black suit, which was hanging from a grab-handle. During the journey I learned my driver, who was accompanied by his wife, had driven five hours to attend the conference. He was a flag bearer, "Paul" (Golding) had asked him to be one a year back, due to his time in Belfast. He said the Britain First events get "crazier every time".

We pulled into 136 Main Rd. In an empty car park stood a stocky man who wore a tight blue polo shirt and a tattoo on his neck. Another man, younger, in standard-issue Britain First security wear lingered behind him. On the outer edge of the carpark, a tall man, with a thigh-length navy coat, and a thick black moustache, stood next to a newish-looking XJ Jaguar. I was entering a secret society.

I had the driver's suit in hand. Alas, we were not there yet. "Follow that car," said the man in the polo shirt. I hung the suit back up and off we drove. Some five minutes away, the venue. The Sitwell Arms Hotel. An 18-century building that was formerly a coaching inn.

At the door a pimply security guard of about 20, was turning people away. Paul wasn't ready yet. My driver formalised his dress in the backseat of his car, as the Britain First loyal, began parking-up. The man in the Jag. A woman with an orange face, oversized black and gold sunglasses, and a Union Jack emblazoned bag. There was "Bob from Birmingham" (as I later came to know him), in a blue cap with 'God is Good Always' written on it, and his friend, a small elderly man. Men in black. Men in camouflage. Men with grey hair. A few lads. A few children.

The conference room was upstairs and the line didn't move. The driver, having completed his "Clark Kent", tried to push towards the front. There was no way through.

At the door a security guard took photos of guests from a camera on his lapel

At the top of the stairs, a finely dressed man in a three-piece grey Gibson suit. A fob chain hung from his waist coat. A gold collar-bar, made the knot of his rust-coloured tie sit up. On his lapel a camera. He took my picture. Frisked me. Searched my bag. All for "my safety".

At the door to the conference room Golding's mum checked people's names off a list, if they had pre-registered, and took the entrance fee.

The bar was open. The room was empty. A disco ball hung in the middle of the ceiling between plastic chandeliers. A young-boy, in crisp white shirt and tie, sat at a desk, next to a laptop and projector. A video camera was set-up to record.

Golding later joked about the empty seats, saying he "over-estimates everything". There was more chairs downstairs. Conference-goers were asked to shuffle up, so it looked busier before filming began.

While elected leader, the real-star of the show was Jayda Fransen. A pin-up girl of the far-right, with a mane of purple-hair and tattoos creeping out of her short skirt, suit jacket and heels. She made younger members of her security-detail blush when she addressed them by name. One, Ben, never left her side. Fransen hosted most of the conference and stepped in when Golding was challenged on the wording of policies. She has studied law. The crowd listened to her.

After the first session of three, where the policies were passed, there was a break for lunch.

While taking notes on my phone, I noticed a presence on my shoulder. The conference photographer. Golding examined the viewfinder on his camera. Then he turned and looked straight at me.

It was 3.30pm. My train back to London was at 4.30pm. I needed to leave anyway. I thought I'd leave before I was asked to.

Slinging my bag over my shoulder I walked behind the seating area, past tables heavy with Britain First merchandise which Golding had repeatedly tried to flog before each break. None was bought.

There she was, Fransen, with guards to her left, right and rear. Big white men, with thick tattooed-forearms, and fat stomachs.

"Good, he's leaving," she said.

I was moving quickly now. Arms on either shoulder, driving me towards the exit. There was no time to farewell Golding's mum.

There was no explanation.

I turned right. "Where you going... left, left", the security guard said, directing me there by force.

The stairs where I'd earlier queued. A final shove from the bouncers. I tumbled. Six steps. Three steps. Like lily pads. The exit door. Miraculously I was still on my feet. I'd hate to have been injured, and had to stay.

The hands were back. I was shoved into a row of smoking conference goers. "What the fuck."

It was raining, and I was two re-direction points from the railway station, but it was over and I had my answer.

I had my answer.


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