A WARRINGTON MP has said it is ‘outrageous’ a far right political party canvassed in the town centre last week while ‘trying to hide their true colours’.
The controversial group Britain First, which hit headlines after using murdered soldier Lee Rigby’s name without the permission of his family, were collecting signatures for ‘better treatment’ for soldiers.
But many residents will have been unaware the petition was from a political party.
When asked why their party logo could not be seen on either of two pitches on Market Gate, leader Paul Golding, who produced party leaflets for a photograph, said they did not have banners with the logo but would tell ‘anyone who was interested’.
He added: “If anyone asks about the party we will tell them but most people know who we are already.
“We have collected about 50,000 signatures so far across the country and once we get 100,000 we will present it to Downing Street but we won’t be using data from the petition to get in contact with anyone.”
He also batted away suggestions the party was racist with the argument one of their campaigning officers was half Jamaican.
Mr Golding added: “Several of our high-ranking officials are of ethnic minority but they support us because they’re sick of living in this country.”
Despite criticism nationally, representatives said they had received a positive response in Warrington during one of their first ventures in the north west.
Mr Golding added: “If anyone disagrees with us we explain to them they’re entitled to their views and we’re entitled to our freedom of speech.”
He could not confirm whether anyone from the party would be standing for future elections in the town.
A council spokesman confirmed the organisation had been spoken to check ‘necessary approvals and licences’ were in place.
WARRINGTON North MP Helen Jones said: “It is outrageous that these people seek to trade on the respect for our troops to promote a party that is a breakaway from the BNP.
“Seventy years ago my grandfather, my father and my uncles were fighting fascism in Europe – they and other brave men and women fought the ideology that these people represent.
“Now we see them trying to hide their true colours.
“They are the people who used the name of Lee Rigby on the ballot paper in the European Elections causing great distress to his family.“ Warrington South MP David Mowat added: “Making sure that soldiers are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve is something we can all support.
“I’ve done several campaigns on Military ID and on other matters where I feel that members of our armed forces are not being treated fairly.
“However, responsible political parties which collect data have a responsibility to make clear what purpose the data is being collected for and how it will be used.”