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Patriotic Alternative: what you need to know about the Nazis exploiting the media

David Lawrence - 26 04 22

Warning: this blog contains extreme and offensive imagery

While Patriotic Alternative (PA) is the UK’s largest fascist organisation, it remains firmly confined to the political fringes, with a membership numbering in the low hundreds. The group is therefore desperate for media attention, performing stunts and propaganda drives in the hope of provoking outrage and gaining coverage in the local and national press. 

However, PA’s public output is carefully confected to conceal its underlying Nazi ideology and hardline antisemitism. This has sometimes resulted in local coverage that does not accurately relay the true extent of the group’s hateful extremism, referring vaguely to “far right” politics and even printing PA leaflets in full, thereby extending the reach of its propaganda to the delight of its activists.

PA is currently in the midst of a major propaganda drive, aiming to distribute 100k leaflets and grab as many headlines as possible during the month of April. While we have explored the history, ideology and tactics of the group in depth in our PA report, below is a brief guide to the group.

Here’s what you need to know about Patriotic Alternative.

Patriotic Alternative leader Mark Collett (left) with his former girlfriend Jenna Smith

The Group is Rife with Nazi Extremists

The admiration of Hitler runs from the top of PA to the grassroots. For example, PA leader Mark Collett, a former leading member of the British National Party (BNP), has repeatedly recommended Hitler’s Mein Kampf to his audience and in 2019 described Hitler as a “simple, humble painter”, going on to state:

“when you read transcripts from people who were very close to Hitler, they say the worst things about him, his worst personality traits, is that he used to ramble on a bit […] and if that’s the worst you can say about a politician, really can he be such a bad guy?”

One noteworthy extremist embedded in PA is “Anglo Josh”, the Media Officer for the West Midlands branch. As well as fronting street protests and leading a PA contingent to Tommy Robinson’s Telford demonstration in January, the activist has produced and hosted much of the group’s recent video content, appeared on official PA podcasts and managed West Mids social media channels, earning him praise from Deputy Leader Laura Towler as “a big asset to PA”.

PA leader Mark Collett (left) interviewed by “Anglo Josh” at a PA conference in March

However, HOPE not hate can reveal that under the pseudonym “Skelly”, the activist led vicious harassment campaigns as part of a collective of online Nazis. He also racially abused and threatened users of video chat sites that randomly pair users, later uploading the videos for the enjoyment of other online extremists.

In the videos, he gleefully abuses black users with the N-word and noxious racial stereotypes, making taunting references to slavery and lynching while waving a noose, dressed in Nazi apparel and sometimes in black face. In other videos he shouts “burn all the Jews”, “white power” and wields a knife. The activist, who claims to have joined PA in late 2020, promoted such videos as recently as June 2021.

Three screenshots of PA West Midlands Media Officer “Anglo Josh” (AKA Skelly), who has made numerous videos racially abusing people on video chat platforms

He also oversaw “raids” of online chats, coordinated through a group on the messaging app Telegram named “Day of the Rope”. This included a campaign against a LGBTQ+ group in March 2021, in which online Nazis flooded the chat with “gore” pics, Nazi propaganda and violent and extreme homophobic content. He elsewhere made disgusting videos that included footage of the New Zealand mosque shooting, posted videos of executions and photo shopped his own masked face onto pictures of racist atrocities, such as the killing of George Floyd and historical lynches.

Anglo Josh/Skelly fronting a PA demonstration in Dudley, January 2022

We can also release pictures of another active PA activist, Shaun McAlonan (AKA Shaun Caldwell) of the Mid Scotland and Fife branch, posing with weapons and performing a Nazi salute.

PA Scotland member Shaun Caldwell (AKA Shaun McAlonan)

The Stirling-based activist, who was first exposed by The Ferret in February 2021, is a longstanding member of PA Scotland, and was present at PA’s “remembrance service” for Kriss Donald last month.

In PA, such activists are far from exceptions. Our November 2021 report on the group quotes numerous PA activists praising Hitler, such as the group’s North East branch activist Keith McFarlane, who wrote in August last year:

“Adolf Hitler, who art in Valhalla, Sacred is thy name. Give us this day, your strenth, courage, conviction, and wisdom, that we may continue your struggle to save our race and secure a future for White children. This we beseech you. Hail Hitler!”

There are many further examples.

Keith McFarlane leafleting for PA in Gateshead

The group has links to National Action

As explored in depth in our report, a number of prominent PA figures were previously active in National Action (NA), an extreme, violence-obsessed Nazi group that was banned under anti-terror legislation in December 2016. For example, a former NA insider has gone on record to state that Mark Collett had collaborated with the group and attempted to take a leadership role prior to its ban.

Notably, Sam Melia, PA’s Yorkshire Regional Organiser, was photographed by HnH marching with NA members at a demonstration in November 2016. As we exposed in our report, Melia was also pictured alongside key NA figures in July 2017, seven months after the group was proscribed. Those snapped alongside Melia include Christopher Lythgoe, who is currently serving eight years for continuing to lead the terrorist group post ban, and Mark Jones, described by counterterror police as a “lynchpin in the national structure” of NA, who is now serving five and a half years for his role in the group.

Manchester, July 2017. L-R: Lucas Beckett, Oliver Ashton, Christopher Lythgoe, unknown, Sam Melia, unknown, Radoslaw Rekke and Mark Jones

This is despite the claims of PA Deputy Leader Laura Towler – who is also Melia’s wife – in May last year that he “has never been a member of National Action”, and he had never even had “a single conversation with anybody in NA”.

PA Yorkshire’s “Fitness Club Officer” Jake Bewick was also previously involved in NA, meaning PA has appointed two individuals with known pasts in NA to official positions in its Yorkshire branch alone.

Another former NA activist is Kris Kearns (AKA Charlie Big Potatoes), a Liverpudlian Nazi based in Spain. Kearns, who claims he left NA “one minute before” the group’s proscription and that he was “hounded out of the UK by the security services”, previously served as PA’s national “Fitness Officer” and, until recently, co-hosted the official PA Talk podcast. Kearns continues to push PA propaganda online.

Kris Kearns (left) saluting with NA members

Yet another link has emerged, as James Mac (AKA James Costello) went leafletting with the group’s North West branch earlier this month. Costello, a “reverend” in the US-originating white supremacist cult known as the “Creativity Movement”, was an NA associate and delivered a speech at a NA-organised “White Man March” in Newcastle in 2015.

James Mac, front left in the blue t-shirt, leafleting with PA North West

…and Other Violent Groups

PA has also drawn in activists from a number of violent hooligan groups, including the Scottish Defence League and the Pie & Mash Squad. This includes Jeff Marsh (AKA Joe Butler), until recently the group’s Regional Organiser in Wales and still a prominent activist in the branch. Marsh has decades of violent hooliganism and at least three convictions for violence under his belt, offences including stabbing two men in a drunken brawl and throwing a female protester down a flight of stairs.

PA in Yorkshire has also proved willing to collaborate with the British National Socialist Movement (BNSM), a group with a history of violence, taking part in a series of joint demonstrations in 2021.

For more information about PA, click here.

PA West Mids Media Officer, Anglo Josh/Skelly

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