Backlash as National Front stands in Sheffield elections for first time in 39 years

An extreme right-wing party is to field its first candidate in a Sheffield local election for 39 years despite being branded a “complete political irrelevance”.

Jordan Pont, deputy leader of the National Front, is standing in the East Ecclesfield ward as its first candidate in Sheffield since 1980, leading to criticism from anti-racism campaign group Hope not Hate, among others.

The National Front is an extreme right, openly neo-fascist, party founded in 1967. In the mid 1970s it did briefly achieve a level of popularity, becoming the fourth-largest party in terms of vote share, but has never had an MP elected to parliament and has splintered in recent times.

But the news that the National Front are fielding a candidate in Sheffield’s elections on Thursday is a warning sign, according to the organiser of anti-racism group Hope Not Hate, Nick Spooner.

He said: “The fact that the National Front have even bothered to stand is an indication of what a volatile and divided country Britain currently is.”

Mr Pont credited the current government and also Brexit for the rise of parties like the National Front.

He said: “Thanks to Theresa May and her shambles in handling the Brexit negotiations, nationalist parties like the National Front have gone on the rise. People are turning their backs on Labour, the Tories, the Liberal Democrats and are seeking a stronger type of party.”

Mr Pont, a self-described national socialist, said he supported the deportation of immigrants back to their country of origin, adding: “We believe Britain is full.”

Whether this repatriation would be voluntary or not was unclear. When asked if he considered second generation immigrants to the UK as British, Mr Pont said: “If a mouse was born in a stable, would you call it a horse?”

He added: “I’ve got to be realistic. I’m not going to win anything for a long time but if I got 100, 200, 1,000 votes, that will be a big eye-opener.”

Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “We live in a democracy and he has a right to stand. I hope his politics get absolutely squeezed out. I hope we show that Sheffield is a very open and tolerant city.”

Mr Spooner agreed, and said: “The National Front are a complete political irrelevance; how they have survived for this long remains a mystery.

“The sooner Pont loses and East Ecclesfield can see the back of both him and the National Front, the better.”