Britain First has been banned from using "Keeping London British" as a slogan for its mayoral election campaign after it was deemed offensive. The Electoral Commission also told the anti-immigration party it would not be allowed to use the phrase "Vote British" on ballot papers, for the same reason.
Leader Paul Golding, who is running in the London Mayoral elections in May, accused the commission of acting as "Commissar for Political Correctness" and said the body was limiting free speech.
"The Electoral Commission is supposed to be an impartial body that regulates UK elections," the party said in a statement on 9 March. "However, lately the Electoral Commission has started to show political bias towards certain right-wing parties.
"We are supposed to live in a democracy with freedom of speech, but not any more. Only those deemed politically correct are permitted freedom of expression."
The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 requires the commission to decide whether proposed descriptions of political parties, to be printed on ballot papers, are "obscene or offensive" to voters. The laws do not precisely define what should fall under this category, instead requiring the commission to "interpret what was intended by the authors of the act".
Staff are supposed to consult a lengthy legal guide (see below) before making any decision and are advised to "balance rights of the voters against freedom of speech". One section of the guide states: "What is offensive has to be judged by considering the reaction of reasonable people who are neither hypersensitive nor insensitive and by the standards of an open and just multiracial society."
A letter sent by the Commission to Britain First in October, but which was only made public by the party yesterday (9 March), said: "We came to the decision that your party descriptions were offensive. The commission remains willing to discuss any proposals you may have to substitute for the party descriptions that has (sic) been refused."
It represents just the latest run-in the party has had with the independent UK regulator. In 2014, the commission issued an apology to the family of murdered fusilier Lee Rigby after it allowed Britain First to use the slogan "Remember Lee Rigby" on ballot papers during the European elections in Wales.
Golding, 34, announced his intention to run for mayor in September, with the party saying it wanted to reach the "45% [who] are still ethnically British". The party, which describes itself as a "patriotic Christian movement", advocates for the return of capital punishment, an end to immigration and banning Islam.