Painter, who enjoyed a distinguished career in the Army, being decorated for his services during the Korean War, was initially a leading member of the Tottenham Conservative Association and had stood as a candidate for them in the Greater London Council. A supporter of Enoch Powell, he was heavily involved with the Conservative Monday Club, although he resigned from the group (and the Tories) in 1973 when the Club began a process of removing some of its members.
Following his resignation Painter joined the National Front, although he made a weak start when, as party candidate for Tottenham in the February 1974 general election he finished with 1270 votes (4.1%), behind the National Independence Party candidate. An improvement was shown in the October election when he captured 2211 votes (8.3%) in the same seat. It has been argued that the vote was as much a personal one for Painter, a popular businessman in Haringey, as it was an endorsement of the NF. Painter felt that a firm line against the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) was central to NF success and argued in the wake of the Birmingham pub bombings that "they [the IRA] couldn't have done more to help us if we paid them".
A dapper, dashing and charismatic man, Painter rose quickly through the ranks of the NF and by 1974 had a seat on the party's Directorate. He soon came into conflict with John Tyndall and Martin Webster, with rumours rife that he was leading a movement to expel the two men. Painter became a staunch exponent of populism and wrote an article in a 1974 issue of Spearhead entitled 'Let's Make Nationalism Popular' which extolled the virtues of this path. It was followed by a strong rebuttal from Tyndall, which helped to intensify the feud between the two. Having initially considered a direct challenge to Tyndall's leadership himself, he soon threw his weight behind the campaign of John Kingsley Read. The bad blood with Tyndall continued, with a pamphlet produced by Tyndall's supporters dismissing Painter as 'a vain, bumptious and insufferably conceited little man who has limitless ambition'. Painter in turn dismissed Tyndall as a 'tin pot Führer' in the pages of The Beacon, a pro-Kingsley Read NF paper.
Painter became effective deputy to Kingsley Read during his brief leadership and as a result was one of the leading figures in the National Party of the U.K. when it was set up in 1976. Initially a central figure, notably due to his considerable experience as a political organiser from his days in the Conservatives, Painter soon began to devote more time to his highly successful contract cleaning business and drifted away from the NPUK as it became rife with internal bickering. Effectively off the nationalist scene, Painter rejoined the Conservatives in 1978, although his role was confined to local politics.
|Date of election||Constituency||Party||Votes||%||Source|
|February 1974||Tottenham||NF||1270||4.1||The Guardian 2 Mar 1974|
|October 1974||Tottenham||NF||2211||8.3||The Guardian 12 Oct 1974|
- M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977, p. 131
- S. Taylor, The National Front in English Politics, London: Macmillan, 1982, p. 42
- M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977, p. 160
- M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977, p. 151
- M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977, pp. 173-6
- M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977, p. 182
- M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977, p. 187
- M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977, pp. 193-4