Jim Dowson laughs off TV claims he is the 'evil genius' of British fascism
Published 21/06/2014 | 02:30
A Belfast-based fundamentalist preacher turned political activist claims his far-right organisation has 72 members in Northern Ireland, but denies it is active here.
Jim Dowson, one of the organisers of the flag protests, was named this week by the anti-fascist Hope Not Hate as the real leader of far-right group Britain First (BF).
But Mr Dowson said: "You have enough trouble in Northern Ireland with bloody flags, dissidents and mad people in Stormont. That is more than enough problems without me adding another dimension to the mix."
A PR man by profession, he says he learnt his craft working with the pro-life moment in America and brought the lessons of fundraising to the UK.
Anti-fascists see him as the guiding hand behind several far-right groups, but he shrugged it off without quite denying it.
"They are trying to portray me an evil genius masterminding it all. I am quite flattered that they think I am capable of running a business at the same time, and having four kids and five grandkids living with me," he said.
He admitted to revamping the British National Party (BNP) using the techniques he learned in America and claimed to have raised £4m for it before he moved on. He ran the BNP fundraising effort from a Belfast call centre for a time, and even legally owned the party.
He sees his Calvinist beliefs and his far-right views as inseparable.
"You can't keep religion out of politics because if you are a deeply religious person you will carry your world view through everything you do" he said.
Here in Northern Ireland that has meant preaching, taking part in pro-life pickets of the Marie Stopes centre and setting up the Protestant Coalition to tap into loyalist discontent after Belfast City Council voted to reduce the flying of the Union flag in November 2012.
"I am not in the Protestant Coalition any more. I set that up mainly to give people a voice that would not be represented by the main parties, but I only stayed a couple of months. I set it up and handed it over to Willie Frazer and Rab McKee and them boys. I let them get on with it," he said.
He added: "Sadly, it has not realised the potential I thought it could have done."
In England BF, which he set up with former BNP activist Paul Golding, is largely made up of former soldiers and has a military air to it. Last week on Channel 4 members were shown travelling in camouflaged Land Rovers, wearing uniforms, and training for combat. They dressed this way to invade mosques to hand out leaflets, and march through largely Muslim areas like London's Brick Lane waving Union flags.
"We tend not to push that whole thing in Northern Ireland because you don't have a huge Islamic problem" he said.
He also condemned racial attacks here. "This is totally and utterly unacceptable. In general, the crops would rot in the fields here if it wasn't for eastern Europeans coming here to work. Half the folk who are attacking immigrants wouldn't know what work is" he said.
Jim Dowson, the founder of the Protestant Coalition, was named on Channel 4 news as the ideological "guru" behind Britain First, a far-right group that invades mosques and pickets the homes of alleged Muslim extremists. Dowson, a former member of the BNP, is a prominent anti- abortion activist. He is currently facing charges for his part in the 2013 flag protests, and heads a PR firm.