British National Party
British National Party
Leader Nick Griffin MEP
Deputy Leader Vacant
Founded 1982
Headquarters PO Box 14
Welshpool
SY21 0WE
Newspaper Voice of Freedom
Youth wing Resistance
Membership 14,032[1]
Ideology Fascism[2][3][4][5]
Right-wing populism[6][7]
White nationalism[8][9][10]
Euroscepticism[11]
Political position Far-right
European affiliation Alliance of European National Movements[12]
European Parliament Group Non-Inscrits
Official colours Red, White, Blue
European Parliament
2 / 72
Local government[13][14][15]
8 / 21,871
Website
http://bnp.org.uk/
Politics of the United Kingdom
Political parties
Elections

The British National Party (BNP) is a British far-right political party formed as a splinter group from the National Front by John Tyndall in 1982. It restricted membership to "indigenous British" people until 2010, after a legal challenge to its constitution.[16]

The BNP advocates "firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home",[17] as well as the repeal of anti-discrimination legislation.

The BNP finished fifth in the 2008 London mayoral election with 5.2% of the vote and secured one of the London Assembly's 25 seats. It won its first county council seats in 2009 and two seats in the European Parliament. During the 2010 General Election, the BNP received 1.9% of the vote and failed to win any seats. The party's current leader, Nick Griffin,[18] is a former national organiser of the National Front.[19]

Contents

History

Background, National Front outgrowth

Photograph of people carrying Union Flags, demonstrating outside a factory.
National Front march from the 1970s. The movement from which the BNP would emerge by 1982.

The British National Party[note 1] was founded in 1982 following a split within the National Front (NF) two years previously.[20]

The NF had organised marches in an attempt to further raise its profile. These sometimes led to violent clashes with political opponents.[21] Left-wing groups set up the Anti-Nazi League campaign against the NF.[21] After a poor showing at the 1979 general election, internal factional division heightened within the NF. This culminated in chairman John Tyndall leaving the party in 1980,[22] founding the New National Front, which became the BNP two years later.[23] At its foundation, the party included a faction of the disintegrating British Movement.

Tyndall leadership, early years

According to Spearhead, a magazine produced by Tyndall, the split within the movement was not initially intended to be permanent.[22]

During the 1983 general election, the new party fielded 53 candidates,[24] enough to qualify for a televised party political broadcast. This featured chairman Tyndall, flanked by two British flags, and footage of the Brixton riot, a violent riot between predominantly black local residents and the police.[25][note 2] All candidates combined, the BNP achieved only 14,621 votes in the general election, compared to the NF's 27,065.[26] It was revealed afterwards that the BNP Deputy Chairman Ray Hill had been working as a mole on behalf of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.[27]

During the mid-1980s, the party began to develop friendly relations with organisations such as the NF Flag Group[note 3] and allegedly with the controversial Federation of Conservative Students.[27] The BNP also made contacts on the continent, particularly with Flemish nationalists of the radical Odal Group, which succeeded the Order of Flemish Militants.[27]

In 1986, Tyndall was imprisoned for inciting racial hatred.[29] While in prison, he wrote the part-autobiographical, part-political The Eleventh Hour. Richard Edmonds was the de facto leader of the BNP during this time.[30]

A 1988 Sunday Times report revealed that BNP Deputy Chairman Richard Edmonds was involved with a newspaper called the "Holocaust" News, published by the Centre for Historical Review.[31] The publication claimed that the Holocaust, as presented in state-sponsored accounts, was an elaborate, politically motivated hoax. It promoted instead the Leuchter Report, the Ball Report and the Rudolf Expertise.

Gains at local level, into the 1990s

A dark blue banner, featuring a white circle, with the letters BNP in red.
A party banner associated with the BNP since the 1990s

The BNP mobilised 200 people for a "Rights for Whites" demonstration resulting in the 1989 Dewsbury race riot. The BNP claimed the demonstration was in support of white parents who withdrew their children from predominantly Muslim schools.[32] Around this time, the party saw a popularity growth in east London and relocated its bookshop to a heavily fortified headquarters at Welling.[33] At the 1992 general election, Tyndall and Lady Birdwood were noted candidates who unsuccessfully stood for election.[34][35] Following this, BNP candidate Derek Beackon—a last minute replacement for Eddy Butler—won the party its first local council seat in 1993 from Labour, during a local-by election for the Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets.[20] The seat was fought on a "Rights for Whites" platform, in which it was alleged black families were being favoured in local housing initiatives.[27]

In 1991, a security force made up of nationalists drawn from football casual firms was created to defend far-right activists, allegedly in response to a hammer attack at Kensington Library.[36][37] The force firebombed the headquarters of the communist newspaper, the Morning Star, and by 1993 had transformed into the Neo-Nazi[38] paramilitary organisation Combat 18.[36] That same year, the BNP proscribed membership of the group[34] and claimed it had been infiltrated by MI5.[39] Nick Griffin, who later became BNP chairman, stated in Spearhead during 1999 that members of Combat 18 had been a faction of the British Movement some years earlier, from which they were expelled, but never part of the BNP. He claimed that it had "been known for some years that MI5 encouraged or even ordered the setting up of C18 in order to disrupt and discredit the BNP after historic electoral success in Millwall in 1993", and also that The Observer had confirmed that Combat 18 was a state-sponsored "honeytrap" right from the start. It was revealed around this time that another Searchlight mole, Tim Hepple, had infiltrated the BNP, proving controversial in far-left circles, since he was the primary organiser of the Dewsbury incident in 1989.[40] However, Hepple also worked as a Searchlight mole amongst the radical left as an "agent provocateur".[41] According to author Larry O'Hara, Hepple attempted to get Green Anarchist to publish works by radical nationalists, with the intention of publishing an expose in Searchlight that they were "working with fascists"—thus leaving them open to attack from all sides.[41] This happened to Class War.[41] Political opponents claimed that "racist incidents" occurred around the BNP's headquarters and instigated a "close down the BNP" march in October 1993.[42][note 4] In 1995, Welling Council shut down the BNP headquarters.[47]

The same year, relations were built up with William Luther Pierce's US-based National Alliance.[48] Nick Griffin joined the party in 1995 and Tyndall employed him to edit Spearhead. Griffin stated in The Rune that the Holocaust was a "mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter-day witch-hysteria".[49] He was consequently prosecuted under the Public Order Act at the instigation of Alex Carlile MP.[50] During the 1997 general election the BNP's highest results were in the East End of London and Canning Town.[51]

Griffin leadership, identity nationalism

In October 1999, Nick Griffin, supported by Tony Lecomber, stood against Tyndall for leadership of the BNP.[52] Griffin won and began modernising the party's image,[52] though the crucial policy change from compulsory to voluntary repatriation had already been accomplished under Tyndall's leadership. Griffin moved the party from a focus on the status of Jews in Britain, to allowing Jews to stand for the party.[53] A new monthly newspaper, The Voice of Freedom, was initiated, as well as a journal, Identity.[52] During the 2001 general election, following the milltown riots,[54] Oldham and Burnley polled highest for the BNP.[54] Following 9/11 the BNP made further political capital.[55]

Nick Griffin MEP, chairman of the BNP

At local level, the BNP continued to improve on its electoral results in 2002—03,[56] gaining council seats in Blackburn, Calderdale and Burnley,[56][57] despite an extensive opposition campaign.[56]

After the 2004 elections,[58] the BBC and Searchlight created a documentary called The Secret Agent,[58] featuring Jason Gwynne infiltrating the BNP. In it, Griffin and Mark Collett made comments critical of Islam. Following the documentary, Barclays Bank froze the party's accounts.[59] Collett and Griffin were acquitted on charges of incitement to racial hatred in 2006.[60] The BNP branded the BBC "cockroaches".[60]

Maureen Stowe, a successful BNP candidate in Burnley, left the party after being repelled by its racist nature. She told The Guardian, "I became a BNP councillor, like most people who voted for me, by believing their lies".[61]

Following the 7/7 bombings in London, the BNP released fliers with the slogan; "maybe now it's time to start listening to the BNP".[62] Griffin claimed that this was the "cost of voting Labour",[62] attacking the government for bringing the United Kingdom into an "illegal" Iraq War and for its immigration policies.[62] YouGov claimed in 2006, that support for the party stood at up to 7%.[63][64] Large gains were made in the 2006 local elections, where the BNP more than doubled its number of councillors[65] and became the second party on the Barking and Dagenham council.[65]

In February 2005, the party provoked controversy in denouncing a charity appeal following the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, calling it a "devious way to flood Britain with immigrants" and comparing the catastrophe to flooding in Cumbria at the beginning of 2005,[66] which claimed three lives.[67]

The Guardian's infiltration

In December 2006, it was revealed that a The Guardian journalist, Ian Cobain, had worked undercover in the BNP for seven months, becoming the party's central London organiser.[68][69] Among the accusations made by the paper was that the BNP used "techniques of secrecy and deception ... in its attempt to conceal its activities and intentions from the public". It asserted that the BNP operated with a "network of false identities" and organised rendezvous points to allow members to be directed to "clandestine meetings". Party members were directed to avoid "any racist or anti-semitic language in public". Cobain also claimed that the membership in central London had expanded beyond the party's traditional range, now including "dozens of company directors, computing entrepreneurs, bankers and estate agents, and a handful of teachers".[68]

Following the report, the campaign group Unite Against Fascism called for ballerina Simone Clarke to be dismissed from the English National Ballet, because her views on immigration were "incompatible with a leading arts institution such as the English National Ballet" and because she had "used her position to support a party which fosters division".[70] Clarke said: "the BNP is the only party to take a stand against immigration".[70]

The BNP was investigated by the Electoral Commission in 2007, after The Guardian revealed that it had set up a front organisation to raise money from sympathisers in the United States.[71]

2007 split

In 2007, three BNP councillors resigned. In Epping, Terry Farr resigned after suspension for writing abusive letters to Trevor Phillips.[72][73] In Sandwell, James Lloyd was disqualified for not attending any meetings.[74] In Blackburn, Robin Evans left the party and wrote a letter to his former colleagues denouncing it as a party of drug-dealers and football hooligans. Evans remains a councillor, describing himself as a "national socialist".[75]

In late 2007, several BNP officials, including councillor Sadie Graham and head of administration Kenny Smith, had pressed for the expulsion of three senior officials—treasurer John Walker, his deputy Dave Hannam and director of publicity Mark Collett—who they accused of bringing the BNP into disrepute. The BNP later accused Graham and Smith of being "far left" infiltrators.[76] In December Graham and Smith launched a blog detailing their complaints against the trio.[77] They were dismissed from their positions by Nick Griffin. During the ensuing dispute, members of BNP security seized a computer from Graham's home. Griffin claimed that they were recovering party property, while Graham claimed that it was her own. A number of BNP councillors later resigned the whip after Councillor Nina Brown claimed that BNP Security had misled her into giving them the key to Sadie Graham's home.[78]

A number of BNP officials resigned in support of Smith and Graham, or were expelled. These included the head of the Young BNP.[79] The BNP leadership said that the significance of the dispute was exaggerated and that it would quickly blow over.[80][81] In late December 2007, the dissidents began to refer to themselves as the "Real BNP". They said that they would stay within the BNP and campaign for a change of leaders.

In January 2008, the group launched a new website called "Voice of Change", "an umbrella group to assist candidates who wish to stand as independent nationalists in the local elections in May 2008, and in any local by-elections throughout the year". They aimed to challenge Nick Griffin's leadership, calling him "tyrannical", "arrogant" and surrounded by "yes men".[79]

The internal democracy of the BNP has been criticised by members for giving too much power to the chairman and for not being widely available for the membership to consult.[82] In 2007, a leadership challenge to Griffin by Colin Auty and Colin Jackson resulted in resignations and expulsions among their supporters and 67 senior activists.

Question Time appearance

In 2009, Nick Griffin appeared on the BBC's Question Time, amid significant public controversy.

2010 leadership challenge

Following the 2010 General Election, Nick Griffin announced that he would step down as leader in 2013.[83] Three senior BNP members subsequently challenged Griffin for the leadership of the party.[84] Having failed to secure enough support to trigger a leadership ballot, both Eddy Butler and Richard Barnbrook were expelled from the party some months later.[85]

2011 Leadership election

Following disappointing election results in 2011, and a General Members Meeting which did away with the virtually insurmountable nominations' requirement for a leadership election, a leadership election took place in 2011. Griffin was challenged by fellow MEP Andrew Brons. Griffin secured a narrow controversial victory, beating Brons by nine votes out of a total of 2,316 votes cast in a bitter contest.[86]

Structure

The chairman of the BNP has final say in all policy matters.[87] 15 further members of the party leadership have responsibility for various areas of its operations. These executive positions work alongside an Advisory Council, the party's senior policy body, which meets at least three times a year. Its role is to "inspect the party's accounts, ensuring proper conduct of the party's finances, and to act as a forum for the party's leadership to discuss vital issues and carve out the party's agenda".[88] The Trafalgar Club is the party's fundraising arm.[89]

The party is organised around 12 regions, based upon the UK European Parliament constituencies,[88] each with an organiser.[90] The party also organises four groups that deal with specific areas of activity–Land and People (rural affairs), Pensioners' Awareness Group, the Friends of European Nationalism (a New Zealand-based organisation) and the Ethnic Liaison Committee, which co-ordinates work with non-whites.[91] The BNP has 16 specifically official posts:

  • Chairman – Nick Griffin
  • Deputy Chairman – vacant
  • Director of Administration – vacant
  • National Treasurer – Clive Jefferson[92]
  • National Organiser - Adam Walker[93]
  • National Media spokesman - Simon Darby[94]
  • Legal Director – vacant
  • Editor of IdentityJohn Bean
  • Editor of Voice of FreedomMartin Wingfield
  • Head of Publicity – vacant
  • Head of the party's 18-30 group 'Resistance' – Kieren Trent

Arthur Kemp was head of the BNP's education and training department,[95] Adivsory Council member, editor of the BNP's website[96] and foreign affairs spokesman but resigned from all positions due to financial disputes.[97]

Policies

Political tendency

It has been claimed that the BNP has, since its foundation, been fascist. The party's predecessor, the NF, was overtly fascist, incorporating nationalism, racism, and antisemitism into its core ideology. This ideology was taken up by the newly formed BNP. Founder John Tyndall proclaimed: "Mein Kampf is my bible".[98] Piero Ignazi has said that the "proto-Nazi" mould of the NF, and the "generalised nostalgia for all sorts of fascist tendencies" and association with "foreign ideologies", which continued under the BNP, accounted for the lack of success for both parties in comparison to successful far-right parties in Europe, which disavowed traditional fascism.[99]

The Daily Mirror has described the party's MEPs as "vile prophets who preach a Nazi-style doctrine of racial hatred".[100] An editorial in The Guardian characterises the BNP as "a racist organisation with a fascist pedigree".[101] Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg has described the BNP as "a party of thugs, fascists".[102] According to David Cameron: "If you vote for the BNP you are voting for a bunch of fascists... They dress up in a suit and knock on your door in a nice way but they are still Nazi thugs."[103] Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "These people believe in the things that the fascists believed in the second world war, they believe in what the National Front believe in. They believe in the purity of the Aryan race. It is a foul and despicable party and however they change their constitution they will remain foul and despicable."[104][105] Peter Hain describes the BNP as "a racist organisation with known fascist roots and values" and wrote about its "racist and fascist agenda".[106]

The BNP denies that it is fascist and claims that opposition parties are trying to "prevent freedom of speech".[107] Griffin has said that such accusations are "a smear that comes from the far left."[108] He has also said that "he actually 'detested' fascism".[109]

Political scientists see the party as fascist and say that it has attempted to hide its true nature in order to attract popular support.[2][110][111] Nigel Copsey examined the party's 2005 General Election manifesto Rebuilding British Democracy and concluded that it was a recalibration of fascism rather than a fundamental break with it.[3]

Historian Richard Overy has said that "Fascism with a capital F" was strictly a movement of the past. According to David Stevenson, "the BNP is different in style and structure from fascism in the 1930s" saying that although they do not wear uniforms they still count "bully boys" among their membership.[112]

It has also been suggested that the BNP represents a hybrid movement containing elements of Neo-fascism and anti-immigrant themes.[113]

Economic policy

The economic policy of the party has developed over time. In the 1990s, the party reflected protectionism and economic nationalism, although in comparison with other radical nationalist parties, the BNP focuses less on corporatism.[114] It has called for British ownership of its own industries and resources and the "subordination of the power of the City to the power of the government".[114] It has promoted the regeneration of farming in the United Kingdom, with the object of achieving maximum self-sufficiency in food production.[114] It has advocated ending overseas aid in order to provide aid within the UK and to finance the repatriation of immigrants.[114] In 2002, the party criticised corporatism as a "mixture of big capitalism and state control", saying it favoured a "distributionist tradition established by home-grown thinkers" favouring small business.[52] In its 2005 manifesto, the BNP opposed "globalism, international socialism, laissez-faire capitalism and economic liberalism".[115] The BNP rejects the notion of Thatcherism and "submitting to the dictates of the international marketplace" which "has no loyalty to this country".[115] The BNP has claimed that it is possible for a national economy to thrive outside of the laissez-faire model, pointing to 21st century examples such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore.[115] The BNP claims that, while immigration increases the aggregate GNP by providing cheap labour, it decreases the per-capita GNP, which the BNP claims is most representative of the economic well-being of British people.[115]

The party says that "old-style socialist methods" of tax and spend "turned out to have harmful effects" and it would instead seek "non-destructive means to reduce income inequality".[115] Central to the BNP's economic policies are greater share ownership and the establishment of worker co-operatives. The party advocates the provision of extra resources for "especially gifted children" and the reversal of closures of special needs schools.[115]

In the BNP 2010 Manifesto (pp. 8–10) some of their key economic policies are summed up as follows:

  • The BNP will forbid the development and importation of genetically modified produce.
  • The BNP would support local economies by creating a national network of autonomous credit unions.
  • The BNP will ensure that globalist corporations pay their fair share of the tax burden.
  • The BNP will charge foreign trucks for the right to use Britain’s road network, as other European nations already do.
  • A BNP government would tackle the national debt problem by cutting expenditure on all projects which do not serve British interests.

European Union

The British National Party are Eurosceptics, who wish to move towards a greater national self-sufficiency.[116] According to the BNP 2010 Manifesto (p. 27): "The BNP demands an immediate withdrawal from the European Union, which is an organisation dedicated to usurping British sovereignty and to destroying our nationhood and national identity".

Social and cultural policy

Some key social and cultural policies of the British National Party are summed up below from their most recent Manifesto:[117]

  • The BNP rejects ID cards as an undesirable representation of the surveillance society.
  • The BNP will oppose the intrusion of non-British and alien cultural influences which undermine our traditional value systems.
  • The BNP will enact legislation to ensure that pensions are eligible only to Britons and those who have fully paid into the system.
  • The BNP will introduce a new Bill of Rights which will guarantee certain basic civil liberties.
  • The BNP will encourage the teaching of British history, culture and traditions at schools.
  • The BNP will introduce formal bank holidays for all of our nations’ patron saints
  • The BNP will ensure that the National Health Service is used to serve British people and not used as an International Health Service.
  • The BNP will repeal the 1998 Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which are exploited to abuse Britain’s hospitality by the world’s scroungers.
  • The BNP will ensure that appropriate areas of public life, including school assemblies, are based on a commitment to the values of traditional Western Christianity, as a benchmark for a decent and civilised society.

In 2005 the BNP proposed to reintroduce compulsory National Service for the young and proposed that men should keep a rifle and ammunition in their homes.[115] In their 2010 Manifesto, the BNP have expanded on their policy of National Service, claiming the youths who take National Service will subsequently be funded for their University or further education: "On satisfactory completion of their period of National Service, all suitably qualified youngsters will become eligible to receive a fully funded university education. The less academically qualified will be entitled to paid apprenticeships or training."[118]

A further BNP policy is "to end the conflict in Ireland by welcoming Eire [sic] as well as Ulster as equal partners in a federation of the nations of the British Isles".[119]

Crime

The BNP advocates capital punishment for "drug dealers, child murderers, multiple murderers, murderers of policemen on duty and terrorists where guilt is proven beyond all doubt".[115][117] Other key BNP policies on crime include:

  • The BNP will abolish political correctness from the police service in favour of real crime fighting.
  • The BNP will establish a penal station for hardened and repeat criminals on the British island of South Georgia.
  • The BNP will reintroduce the right of householders to defend themselves and their property using whatever means they deem necessary.

Animal welfare

The party says it supports animal welfare (such as the banning of Halal and Kosher slaughtering and the phasing out of factory farming).[120] Nick Griffin and other BNP members attended the 'Liberty & Livelihood' march organised by the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance in 2002.[121]

Immigration

Since its formation the British National Party has staunchly opposed immigration. The BNP argues that: "To ensure that we do not become a minority in our own homeland, and that the native British peoples of our Islands retain their culture and identity, we call for an immediate halt to all further immigration."[122] Under the leadership of John Tyndall the party advocated total repatriation for all ethnic minorities.[123] When Nick Griffin became chairman in 1999, the BNP changed their total repatriation policy to only voluntary, a key policy which remains to date, offering financial "incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home."[17] The party maintains that ethnic minorities legally in Britain are entitled to stay as long as they always remain the minority population demographically:[124]

  • The BNP recognises the right of legally settled and law-abiding minorities to remain in the UK and enjoy the full protection of the law, on the understanding that the indigenous population of Britain has the right to remain the majority population of our nation.

In their 2010 Manifesto (p. 30) the BNP argues that Islamic immigration must be "halted and reversed as it presents one of the most deadly threats yet to the survival of our nation". Furthermore their policy is also to "deport all foreigners convicted of crimes in Britain, regardless of their immigration status" as well as deport illegal immigrants and "reject all asylum seekers who passed safe countries on their way to Britain".

British Army immigrant issue

It has been claimed that the BNP is opposed to allowing British Army Gurkhas the right of settlement in the United Kingdom. In 2009, Nick Griffin said: "We don't think the most overcrowded country in Europe, can realistically say, 'Look, you can all come and all your relatives'...When the Gurkhas signed up—frankly as mercenaries—they expected a pension which would allow them to live well in their own country".[125][126] Later, he said that if he could swap "100,000 members of the Muslim community, who say that they support al Qaeda" for the Gurkhas it "would be a good exchange".[127] Nick Griffin has described the commentary about his party's polices on the Gurkhas as "lies",[128] stating the party has “never before even debated this issue”. He added, “...A BNP government would look far more sympathetically on the plight of the Gurkhas than the current Labour government.”[129]

Joanna Lumley, a campaigner for the Ghurka's right of settlement, spoke to The Sun condemning a leaflet allegedly distributed by BNP candidate Adam Walker attacking her campaign and with a picture of a dead Gurkha soldier crossed out.[130] The Sun later retracted the allegation, saying that neither the BNP nor Walker were responsible for the leaflet.[131][132]

On 17 May 2009, The Daily Telegraph wrote that the BNP's leader, Nick Griffin, had branded Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC, a black recipient of the Victoria Cross, an "immigrant" whose bravery was simply "routine". The Telegraph quoted the BNP website as calling Beharry's award of the Victoria Cross "positive discrimination by the PC-mad government".[133] Beharry was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2005 for action in Iraq, when he returned to his burning armoured personnel carrier three times, under sustained enemy fire, to lift his wounded comrades from the vehicle.[134] The BNP claimed: "All he did was drive away very fast from a combat zone."[133]

Race

The British National Party has changed its stance on race. During the leadership of Tyndall, the party firmly supported white nationalism and the BNP 1997 Manifesto thus called for Britain to be made "once again a white country" through a total repatriation programme for all ethnic minorities. The BNP's 1992 General Election manifesto said that the party had "no quarrel with the ordinary Jew who goes about his own business and does not attempt to influence national affairs in the interests of his racial group", but was opposed to Jewish people "whose activities in pursuit of the interests of their own co-racialists here and around the world can sometimes bring them into conflict with British interests".[135] In 1990, the BNP under Tyndall was described by the European Parliament's committee on racism and xenophobia as an "openly Nazi party ..."[136] In 1993, the party's deputy leader Richard Edmonds said, "We are 100 per cent racist".[136] However, under the leadership of Nick Griffin, from 1999, the party began to radically change its stance on race issues. Writing in the party's newspaper, The Voice of Freedom, Nick Griffin wrote an article entitled "The BNP and Race" in 2001 to clarify that the "The BNP is no longer a genuine White Racial Nationalist party" and that:

"The BNP is not a 'race supremacist' party. The BNP does not claim that any one race is superior to any other, simply that they are different. The party merely wishes to preserve those differences which make up the rich tapestry of human kind… to protect and preserve the racial and cultural integrity of the British people – and of others to – the party believe in separation… To sum up, the BNP is fighting for the very right to exist of not just the British but of all peoples."[137]

The BNP under Griffin espouses "ethno-nationalism" based on "concern for the well-being of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish ethnic nations that compose the United Kingdom". According to Griffin, regarding the BNP's racial views in 2004: "we don't hate black people, we don't hate asians, we don't oppose any ethnic group for what God made them, they have a right to their own identity as such as we do, all we want to do is to preserve the ethnic and cultural identity of the British people."[138] Scholars of political science have noted this change in racial ideology and consider it to be ethnopluralism or 'differentialism' (racial realism), influenced by the European New Right.[139][140] Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show in 2009, Nick Griffin declared that the BNP "does not want all-white UK" because "Nobody out there wants it or would pay for it" and that the claims he was a fascist were smears.[141]

In 2010, the party changed its constitution which had restricted membership to "indigenous British" people.

The party has stated that it does not oppose the Jewish, Hindu or Sikh religions but does not accept practising Sikhs or Hindus as ethnically British since they are not indigenous.[142] The BNP sums up its views on non-indigenous British as follows:[143]

  • The British National Party...recognises pro-British members of assimilated minorities as British in a civic sense, and welcomes their contribution to our fight for fair play for, and the future survival of, the indigenous peoples of these islands.
  • But we absolutely reject the poisonous, Politically Correct, anti-indigenous fiction that they are English, or Scottish, or Welsh, or Irish. They may well be very decent people, but if any of us went to Nigeria or Afghanistan, no-one would dream of pretending that we were Nigerians or Afghans.

The BNP is opposed to mixed-race relationships because "when whites take partners from other ethnic groups, a white family line that stretches back into deep pre-history is destroyed."[144] Nick Griffin has also stated: "...while the BNP is not racist, it must not become multi-racist either. Our fundamental determination to secure a future for white children is restated, and an area of uncertainty is addressed and a position which is both principled and politically realistic is firmly established. We don't hate anyone, especially the mixed race children who are the most tragic victims of enforced multi-racism, but that does not mean that we accept miscegenation as moral or normal. We do not and we never will."[145] However despite this, the BNP has a minority of members who are involved in mixed-marriages.[146]

The BNP supported University of Leeds lecturer Dr. Frank Ellis, who was suspended after stating that the Bell Curve theory "has demonstrated to me beyond any reasonable doubt there is a persistent gap in average black and white average intelligence".[147][148] Ellis called the BNP "a bit too socialist" for his liking and described himself as "an unrepentant Powellite" who would support "humane" repatriation.[149]

In 2006, Sky News confronted the party's national press officer, Phil Edwards (real name Stuart Russell[150]), with a tape of a telephone conversation in which he said that "the black kids are going to grow up dysfunctional, low IQ, low achievers that drain our welfare benefits and the prison system and probably go and mug you."[151] He responded: "If I thought I was going to be recorded ... I would not have used such intemperate language, but let’s be honest about it, the facts are there."[152]

In recent years the BNP has established connections to nationalists in Japan, and in 2010 BNP staff manager Adam Walker attended an international far-right conference.[153]

Support from ethnic minorities

The BNP under Griffin's leadership has worked with extremists from the Sikh and Hindu communities on anti-Muslim campaigns from 2001[154][155] and has also actively tried to win Jewish votes.[156] When the party changed its constitution on membership which allowed ethnic minorities to join, a 78 year old Sikh, Rajinder Singh, became the first Asian member.[157][158] In 2010, Reverend James Gitau joined the BNP and became its first black member claiming he only joined because it "was the only party that boldly speaks against sodomy in public"; however, he left the party a week later when he was not nominated to stand for Croydon Central and instead joined and stood as a Christian Party candidate.[159]

The BNP has also fielded a small number of ethnic minority candidates and has an elected Jewish councillor, Patricia Richardson. Formerly, the party also had a half-Turkish Cypriot, half-English councillor, Lawrence Rustem.[160][161] In 2006, Sharif Abdel Gawad, partly Armenian and Greek, was chosen as a council candidate in Bradford. Sharon Ebanks, the BNP's first councillor in Birmingham, has denied claims made by her stepmother that she is of mixed race.[162]

Criticism of Islam

The party states that it "has moved on in recent years, casting off the leg-irons of conspiracy theories and the thinly veiled anti-semitism which has held this party back for two decades. The real enemies of the British people are home grown Anglo-Saxon Celtic liberal-leftists ... and the Crescent Horde—the endless wave of Islamics who are flocking to our shores to bring our island nations into the embrace of their barbaric desert religion".[53]

Consequently, the party has shifted allegiance in conflicts involving Israel. Its head of legal affairs, Lee Barnes, wrote on the party's website about the 2006 Lebanon War: "As a Nationalist I can say that I support Israel 100% in their dispute with Hezbollah. In fact, I hope they wipe Hezbollah off the Lebanese map and bomb them until they leave large greasy craters in the cities where their Islamic extremist cantons of terror once stood."[163] In 2009, Griffin stated: "I have brought the British National party from the frankly an anti-semitic and racist organisation, into the only party which in the clashes between Israel and Gaza supported Israel's right to deal with Hamas terrorists."[164]

Griffin has said that this shift in emphasis is designed to increase the party's appeal: "We should be positioning ourselves to take advantage for our own political ends of the growing wave of public hostility to Islam currently being whipped up by the mass media".[165] In a speech to local party activists in 2006, he said:

We bang on about Islam. Why? Because to the ordinary public out there it's the thing they can understand. It's the thing the newspaper editors sell newspapers with. If we were to attack some other ethnic group—some people say we should attack the Jews... But ... we've got to get to power. And if that was an issue we chose to bang on about when the press don't talk about it ... the public would just think we were barking mad. They'd just think oh, you're attacking Jews just because you want to attack Jews. You're attacking this group of powerful Zionists just because you want to take poor Manny Cohen the tailor and shove him in a gas chamber. That's what the public would think. It wouldn't get us anywhere other than stepping backwards. It would lock us in a little box; the public would think "extremist crank lunatics, nothing to do with me." And we wouldn't get power.[166]

Suggested policies to deal with the threat from Islam include a ban on Muslims flying in and out of the UK.[167] The BNP erected a plaque in Oldham in memory of a 19-year-old white man who was killed by Asian Muslims in February 2002. The plaque was later removed by the local council.[168]

Family

The British National Party promotes familialism and supports the nuclear family of Western tradition, as well as favouring traditional roles for women and men. The 1992 BNP Manifesto thus asserts their belief that although women and men should be treated equal, women should "regard home-and family-making as the highest vocation for their sex" before their jobs or career.[169] In September 2011, scholar Matthew Goodwin, an expert in electoral behaviour at the University of Nottingham has claimed in an article that: "particular members of the BNP" feel as though there has been a "substantial decline in family values" under the leadership of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.[170] In the United Kingdom local elections, 2004, the BNP stood 80 female candidates promoting the BNP's "family values" policy.[171]

The BNP 2010 Manifesto also declares their wish to promote traditional concepts of civility and courteousness in schools.[172]

Opposition to abortion

The BNP wish to "encourage a responsible approach to family life, and to reverse the dangerous downturn in the birth rate".[173] The BNP opposes abortion, and in 2007 worked on a campaign with the UK Life League, an anti-abortion lobby group.[174]

Opposition to homosexuality

The BNP states that homosexuality in private should be tolerated but believes that it "should not be promoted or encouraged".[175] It is opposed to civil partnerships and wishes to ban what it perceives as the promotion of homosexuality in schools and the media.[144][176][177] It proposes that homosexuality should be returned "to the closet".[178]

BNP spokesman Phil Edwards stated that homosexuality "is unnatural" and "does not lead to procreation but does lead to moral turpitude and disease".[178] Mark Collett, former Director of Publicity for the party,[179] has described homosexuals as "AIDS Monkeys", "bum bandits" and "faggots", saying the idea of homosexuality was a "sickening thought".[180]

In the run-up to the 2005 general election, it was reported that Richard Barnbrook, the BNP candidate for Barking, had produced a homoerotic student art film in 1989.[181] Barnbrook and the BNP claimed that the film was artistic and about "sexuality, not homosexuality".[182]

The BNP was criticised over a web article titled, "Liars, buggers and thieves", which grouped several gay politicians in with convicted murderers, rapists and paedophiles. The author, BNP councillor Julian Leppert, defended it and said that the reason why gay MPs were included was because, "it fits in with the headline, the bugger part, I guess", and stated that the BNP are "a family party with family values".[183]

It has been alleged that Nick Griffin had a four year homosexual relationship with Martin Webster, although Griffin denies this.[184][185] In 2009, he said: "a lot of people find the sight of two grown men kissing in public really creepy. I understand that homosexuals don't understand that but that's how a lot of us feel."[186]

BNP holding local government seats

County and district councillors

The British National Party once had over 50 elected County and District councillors (55 in 2008, and 58 in 2009)[187] but lost many of these seats in the 2010 and 2011 local elections, and a few through defections and resignations. As of October 2011, the BNP has 8 councillors, one of whom was re-elected during the 2011 local elections.[188]

Parish and town councillors

The BNP recently have encouraged candidates to stand in Parish and Town Council elections, since many seats can be won uncontested.[189] In the 2011 local elections the party picked up over a dozen or more uncontested seats at the Parish level. There are currently between 60 - 80 BNP Parish or Town councillors.

Electoral performance

The BNP has contested seats in England, Wales and Scotland. In January 2011 the party registered in Northern Ireland.[190]

General election performance

The British National Party has contested general elections since 1983.

Year Number of Candidates Number of MPs Percentage of vote Total votes Change (percentage points) Average votes per candidate
1983 54 0 0.0 14,621 N/A 271
1987 2 0 0.0 563 0.0 282
1992 13 0 0.1 7,631 +0.1 587
1997 54 0 0.1 35,832 0.0 664
2001 33 0 0.2 47,129 +0.1 1,428
2005 117 0 0.7 192,746 +0.5 1,647
2010 339 0 1.9 563,743 +1.2 1,663

1983-1992

The BNP achieved no real success in their first three general elections from 1983-1992. No deposits of contested constituencies were saved and it never polled at above 3.6% in any constituency.[191][192]

In the 1992 general election the BNP percent of votes overall was 0.1% of the electorate.[193]

1997

In the United Kingdom general election, 1997 the BNP for the first time saved 3 deposits (out of 56 contested seats).[194] Their highest amount of votes received was 3350 (7.5%) in the East End seat of Bethnal Green and Bow (held by Labour).[195]

2001

The BNP in the United Kingdom general election, 2001 saved 5 deposits (out of 33 contested seats) and secured their best ever general election result in Oldham West and Royton (which had recently been the scene of racially motivated rioting between white and Asian youths) where party leader Nick Griffin secured 16.4% of the vote - more than doubling the party's previous best performance in any constituency. Their average votes per candidate also increased from 664 to 1,428, and they secured 47,129 votes in total.

2005

The United Kingdom general election 2005 was considered a major breakthrough by the BNP, as they picked up 192,746 votes in the 119 constituencies they contested, took a 0.7% share of the overall vote, and retained a deposit in 40 of the seats.[196][197]

2010

The BNP put forward candidates for 338 out of 650 seats for the 2010 General Election[198] gaining 563,743 votes[199] (1.9%), finishing in fifth place and failing to win any seats. However, a record of 73 deposits were saved.

Party chairman Nick Griffin came third in the Barking constituency, behind Margaret Hodge of Labour and Simon Marcus of the Conservatives, who were first and second respectively. At 14.6%, this was the BNP's best result in any of the seats it contested that year.[200]

Local elections

The BNP's first electoral success came in 1993, when Derek Beackon was returned as a councillor in Millwall, London. He lost his seat in elections the following year. The next BNP success in local elections was not until the 2002 local elections, when three BNP candidates gained seats on Burnley council.[191]

  • In 2000 the BNP fielded 17 candidates in 12 councils and polled 3,022 votes. The average share of votes in wards contested was 8%.
  • In 2001 the BNP fielded 4 candidates in three councils and polled 867 votes, with an average share of 4% in the wards contested.
  • In 2002 the BNP fielded 67 candidates and polled 30,998 votes in 26 local councils. The BNP average share of votes was 16%. Three BNP candidates were elected for the first time in Burnley with an average share of 28.1%.
  • In 2003 the BNP fielded a total of 217 candidates in 71 local authorities in England and Scotland. The party won a total of 13 council seats, polling over 101,221 votes and averaging 17% of the vote in those wards where it fielded candidates.[191]

The BNP's success in the 2003 local elections sparked national media publicity.[201][202] Layer the same year, the BNP won two local by-elections. In the Heckmondwicke ward of Kirklees Council in August, David Exley, polled 1,607 votes (44%). In September, Nick Geri won the Grays Riverside ward of Thurrock council, polling 552 votes (38%).[191] Later in Burnley, the number of councillors increased, making the BNP briefly the second-largest party and official opposition on that council, a position it lost after the resignation of a BNP councillor who had been disciplined by the party. The BNP stood in the subsequent by-election.

  • In 2004 the BNP had 312 candidates stand for election in 59 local authorities in England and Wales, including 25 candidates in Sunderland, 24 in Birmingham and 23 in Leeds. The BNP won 14 council seats, and polled 190,200 votes.
  • In 2005 the BNP fielded 41 candidates in 18 councils and polled 21,775 votes, averaging 11% share in the contested wards.[191]

The party's biggest election success to date was a gain of 52% of the vote in the Goresbrook ward of Barking in the 2004 local elections. The victorious councillor, Daniel Kelley, retired just 10 months later, claiming he had been an outcast within the council. A new election was held in June 2005, in which the seat was regained by the Labour candidate.[203]

  • In 2006, the BNP polled a total of 229,389 votes, having fielded 363 candidates in 78 local authorities across England. The party averaged 18% of the votes in wards contested. The BNP fielded 40 candidates in Birmingham, 25 in Sunderland, 23 in Kirklees, and 22 in Leeds. 33 BNP councillors were elected; four lost their seats and the party gained a seat with the defection of a Conservative councillor in Lincolnshire bringing its total to 49.[204]

The biggest gain in the local elections on 4 May 2006, was in Barking and Dagenham where the BNP won 12 of the 13 seats it contested,[205] gaining 17% of the vote.[206] The BNP also won three seats in Epping Forest, three in Stoke-on-Trent, three in Sandwell, two in Burnley, two in Kirklees, and single seats in Bradford, Havering, Solihull, Redditch, Redbridge, Pendle and Leeds. In 2006, the BNP also gained its first parish councillor in Wales when Mike Howard of Rhewl Mostyn, Flintshire, previously an Independent, joined the BNP.

  • In the 2007 local elections, the BNP polled 292,911 votes. It won 10 seats with a net gain of one. The party fielded a record of 744 candidates in 148 councils across England and Scotland. This was more than double the number of candidates fielded in 2006; they scored on average 13% of the votes in the wards which they contested.[191][207]

In summary of BNP councillors from 2000-2007: from 2000 to 2001 the BNP had none, in 2002 it had three, by 2003 it had 16 local councilors, this increased to 21 by 2005, in 2006 the biggest gain saw BNP's councillors rise to 48, and by 2007 to 50.[191][208]

In 2007, the number of BNP councillors fell slowly due to resignations and expulsions, several of them associated with a failed leadership challenge in the summer. By the end of the year, the number was 42. In 2008, however, the BNP increased its councillors to 55.

  • In 2008, the BNP polled an average of 14% across 593 wards contested having fielded 612 candidates. The total number of votes polled by the BNP stood at 240,968. The party gained 15 seats and had 55 councillors in total.[191]

The BNP did not field as many candidates for the 2009 local elections, because of its focus on the European Parliament election the same year, but for the first time won representation at county council level, winning three such seats.[209] A seat in a local by-election in Sevenoaks district, Kent, was also won by the BNP.[210]

About four BNP councillors resigned at the end of 2009, leaving the party with 54 councilors by 2010.[191] In the May 2010 local elections, 26 BNP councillors lost their seats, leaving the party with 28 seats overall. In Barking and Dagenham, the party lost all 12 seats won in 2006.[211][212]

London Assembly and mayoral elections

2008

BNP lead candidate Richard Barnbrook won a seat in the London Assembly in May 2008, after the party gained 5.3% of the London-wide vote. However in August 2010 he resigned the party whip and became an independent.[216]

European elections

The BNP has taken part in European Parliament elections since 1999, when they received 1.13% of the total vote (102,647 votes).

2004 European election

In the 2004 elections to the European Parliament, the BNP won 4.9% of the vote, making it the sixth biggest party overall, but did not win any seats.[196]

2009 European elections

In light of the United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal, there was media speculation that the BNP could do well in the polls, as voters sought an alternative party to register their protest.[217]

In May 2009, The Sunday Mirror revealed that the BNP had used stock photos to represent people supposedly in agreement with its policies.[218] Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price alleged misrepresentation and called on the Royal Mail to halt distribution.[218] The BNP claimed this was standard practise by political parties.[219]

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said it would be tragic if people abstained or voted BNP at the local and European elections.[220]

The BNP won two seats in the European Parliament. Andrew Brons was elected in the Yorkshire and the Humber regional constituency with 9.8% of the vote.[221] Party chairman Nick Griffin was elected in the North West region, with 8% of the vote.[222] Nationally, the BNP received 6.26%. Griffin stated that it was "a great victory ... we go on from here." Meanwhile, the Labour and Conservative parties both referred to it as a "sad moment".[223] In local elections held the same day, the BNP also won its first three county council seats in Lancashire, Leicestershire and Hertfordshire.[224]

Welsh Assembly

In the National Assembly for Wales election, 2003 the BNP only stood one candidate, Pauline Gregory, in the South Wales East region, who obtained 3,210 votes (1.89%), losing the deposit.

In the 2007 Welsh Assembly elections the BNP fielded 20 candidates, four in each of the five regional lists, with Nick Griffin standing in the South Wales West region.[225] It did not win any seats, but was the only minor party to have saved deposits in the electoral regions with one in the North Wales region and the other in the South Wales West region. In total the BNP polled 42,197 votes (4. 3%).

In the 2011 Welsh Assembly elections the BNP fielded 20 candidates, four in each of the five regional lists and for the first time 7 candidates were fielded in FPTP constituencies. On the regional lists, the BNP polled 22,610 votes (2.4%), down 1.9% from 2007.[226] In 2 out of the 7 FPTP constituencies contested the BNP saved desposits (Swansea East and Islwyn).[226]

Scottish Parliament

In the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, the BNP only stood one candidate, Peter Appleby, in the Glasgow electoral region who obtained 2,344 votes (1.1%), losing the deposit.

In the 2007 Scottish Parliament election the party fielded 32 candidates, entitling it to public funding and an election broadcast, prompting criticism.[227] The BNP received 24,616 votes (1.2%), no seats were won, nor were any deposits saved.

In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election the BNP fielded 32 candidates in the regional lists.[228] 15,580 votes were polled (0.78%).[229]

Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly

The BNP fielded 3 candidates for the first time in three constituencies each in the 2011 Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly elections (Belfast East, East Antrim and South Antrim). 1,252 votes were polled (0.2%) and no seats were won, nor deposits were saved.[230]

Legal issues

Claims of repression of free speech

The BNP says that NUJ guidelines on reporting 'far right' organisations forbid unionised journalists from reporting uncritically on the party.[231]

In September 2005, 60,000 copies of Voice of Freedom, which had been printed in Slovakia, were seized by British police at Dover. The police later admitted this was a mistake and released the impounded literature shortly thereafter.[232]

In April 2007, an election broadcast was pulled by BBC Radio Wales' lawyers, who believed that the broadcast was defamatory of the Chief Constable of North Wales Police, Richard Brunstrom.[233][234] The broadcast was made available to download from the BNP's website.[235]

Employment cases and related controversies

In ASLEF v. United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights overturned an employment appeal tribunal ruling that awarded BNP train driver Jay Lee, damages for expulsion from a trade union. It found that the union was entitled to decide who could be a member, and that the UK was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in the way it had treated ASLEF.[236] Clive Potter, later an official of Solidarity – The Union for British Workers, was expelled from his union. A court upheld the expulsion and found that it was based on previous exclusion rather than BNP membership.[237]

In another case, Robert Baggs claimed that he had been discriminated against because of "religion, or similar philosophical belief" after he was refused a job at a GP surgery. His claimed that the employer was in violation of the Employment (Religious Discrimination) Regulations of 2003. The Employment Tribunal found that membership of the BNP was not a "similar" belief,[238] and the case was rejected. Stuart Chamberlain of management consultants Gee Consult has advised that a similar case might be successful since the removal of the qualification "similar" from philosophical belief by an amendment in 2007. "Cases concerning claims made by British National Party's (BNP) members that their fascist beliefs were similar to religious beliefs have previously been decided in favour of the employer or potential employer. Under the new law, a strong argument could be made to the contrary."[239] This has yet to be tested.

Arthur Redfearn was a bus driver whose BNP membership was unknown to his employer, Serco, until he was elected as a councillor. His employer was concerned that he might endanger its contract with a local authority to transport vulnerable people of various ethnicities from a day centre and he was dismissed. The Employment Tribunal held that members of racist organisations could lawfully be dismissed on health and safety grounds if there was a danger of violence occurring in the workplace.[240] It had been unsuccessfully argued at the Employment Tribunal that Redfearn had been racially discriminated against because the BNP is a whites-only organisation, and was treated unfairly in comparison to racist organisations that were non-white.[241]

In 2002, a BNP candidate and Regional Organiser, Kevin Scott, was dismissed from the B&Q hardware store in Gateshead. The management said this was not due to his party membership but due to "low morale" amongst other staff who did not want to work with him, and also the number of calls from customers expressing their disapproval. Scott settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, although the BNP had pledged to support any action.[242]

In 2010, weeks before the general election, the BNP candidate for Sutton Coldfield, Robert Grierson, resigned as a barrister at St Philips chambers in Birmingham after various newspapers including the Birmingham Post,[243] The Guardian[244] and the Daily Mail[245] ran articles concerning his political ambitions.

Organisations which ban BNP membership

Police

Membership of the BNP, Combat 18 and the National Front by police officers and staff was prohibited by then Home Secretary David Blunkett[246] following an undercover TV exposure of racism in a police training centre.[247] The Association of Chief Police Officers banned serving police officers joining the BNP in 2004.[248] Despite this, Simon Darby has claimed that the BNP still has members who remain covert. Manchester Police Authority has viewed footage taken at BNP events in order to identify off-duty officers in attendance at a BNP St George's Day rally, wearing BNP badges and T-shirts, with the slogan "Love Britain or Fuck Off".[249] A retired police officer, John Phazey, stood as a BNP European Assembly candidate. He denied that he was a racist or that the police were institutionally racist, saying: "Of course you heard words like Paki and nigger, but it didn't mean much more than someone saying Paddy for an Irishman or Jerry for a German...It was just jokes in the canteen. You'll get that anywhere when you have men in their 20s and 30s together".[250]

A Police Community Support Officer, Ellis Hammond, was found to be a BNP member after he was discovered stockpiling weapons at his home, including a taser.[251] Gary Marsden was sacked from his job within the West Yorkshire Police in 2007, for performing folk music at the BNP's Red, White and Blue Family Festival, and allowing his CDs to be sold by the Party, although it was accepted that he was not a member.[252]

After BNP membership lists were leaked on the Internet, a number of police forces investigated officers whose names appeared on the lists.[253] In March 2009, PC Steve Bettley of Merseyside Police, whose name appeared on one of the lists, was dismissed.[254]

Prison service

A ban on BNP membership was imposed by Martin Narey, Director of the Prison Service, in 2002. Narey told the BBC that he received hate mail and a death threat as a result.[255]

Other professions

As of 2009, only the police and the prison services have an official prohibition on BNP membership.[256] A ban on BNP membership was considered in the civil service in 2004 and in the probation service in 2005.[257][258] In October 2005, a proposal to ban the BNP from Dorset Fire Brigade, proposed by the management and the Fire Brigades Union, was turned down by the Fire Authority.[259] The president of the BNP-linked trade union Solidarity, Adam Walker, resigned from his job at a college for accessing BNP websites and posting comments using a school laptop during working hours.[260] He was cleared of racism but found guilty of misconduct by the General Teaching Council.[261] His brother, Mark Walker, was suspended from another college for allegedly accessing pornography using school equipment,[262] and was eventually sacked on the basis of his sickness record.[263] His supporters told the press that he had been suspended for accessing the BNP website and had been victimised because of his political beliefs.[261]

The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service declined to act against a BNP council candidate, Ian Johnson, after he wrote in his election leaflets that he was a retained firefighter, despite Fire Brigades Union pressure to do so.[264] Liam Birch, a sociology student standing as a BNP council candidate for Southway was dismissed as assistant warden at Plymouth University, when he posted in a blog that "The Jews declared war on Germany, not the other way round".[265]

In February 2009, the General Synod of the Church of England voted to ban its clergy from joining the BNP.[266]

Association with violence

John Hagan claims that the BNP has conducted right-wing extremist violence in order to gain "institutionalized power".[267] Critics of the BNP, such as Human Rights Watch in a 1997 report, have asserted that the party recruits from skinhead groups and that it promotes racist violence.[268]

In the past, Nick Griffin has defended the threat of violence to further the party's aims. In 1986, when Griffin was Deputy Chair of the NF, he advised his audience at an anti-IRA rally to use the "traditional British methods of the brick, the boot and the fist."[269] After the BNP won its first council seat in 1993, he wrote that the BNP should not be a "postmodernist rightist party" but "a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan 'Defend Rights for Whites' with well-directed boots and fists. When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate". In 1997 he said: "It is more important to control the streets of a city than its council chambers."[49]

The BNP defends itself by arguing that over 20% of the working population has some criminal record or another and that a large proportion of MPs, councillors and activists in the other three main parties also have unsatisfactory past records.[citation needed]

A BBC Panorama programme reported on a number of BNP members who have had criminal convictions, some racially motivated. The BBC's list[270] is extensive. Some of the more notable convictions include:

  • John Tyndall had convictions for assault and organising paramilitary neo-Nazi activities. In 1986 he was jailed for conspiracy to publish material likely to incite racial hatred.[271]
  • In 1998, Nick Griffin was convicted of violating section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986, relating to incitement to racial hatred. He received a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was fined £2,300.[272]
  • Kevin Scott, who in 2001 was the BNP's North East regional organiser, has two convictions for assault and using threatening words and behaviour.[273]
  • Joe Owens, now expelled but previously a BNP candidate in Merseyside and former bodyguard to Nick Griffin,[274][275] served eight months in prison for sending razor blades in the post to Jewish people and another term for carrying CS gas and knuckledusters.[276]
  • Tony Wentworth, former BNP student organiser, was convicted alongside Owens for assaulting demonstrators at an anti-BNP event in 2003.[277]
  • Colin Smith, who in 2004 was the BNP's South East London organiser, has 17 convictions for burglary, theft, possession of drugs and assaulting a police officer.[278]
  • Richard Edmonds, at the time BNP National Organiser, was sentenced to three months in prison in 1994 for his part in a racist attack. Edmonds threw a glass at the victim as he was walking past an East London pub where a group of BNP supporters was drinking. Others then 'glassed' the man in the face and punched and kicked him as he lay on the ground, including BNP supporter Stephen O'Shea, who was jailed for 12 months. Another BNP supporter, Simon Biggs, was jailed for four and a half years for his part in the attack.[279]

Tony Lecomber cases

Tony Lecomber was imprisoned for three years for possessing explosives, after a nail bomb exploded while he was carrying it to the offices of the Workers' Revolutionary Party in 1985.[280] He was imprisoned for three years in 1991, whilst the BNP's Director of Propaganda, for assaulting a Jewish teacher.[281][282]

Robert Cottage case

In 2007, Robert Cottage, a former BNP council candidate, was sentenced to two and a half years for possession of explosives but a conspiracy charge against him was withdrawn after two juries had been unable to reach a verdict.[283] The prosecution claimed that Cottage had plans to assassinate Tony Blair and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Greaves.[284]

The chemicals recovered by police are believed to be the largest explosives haul ever found at a house in Britain.[285]

2008 membership list leak

On 18 November 2008, a list of over 10,000 BNP members was published by Wikileaks in breach of a court injunction.[286][287] This included names, addresses and other personal details. People on the list included prison officers (barred from BNP membership), teachers, soldiers, civil servants and members of the clergy.[288] One of those named disavowed his membership.[289]

Nick Griffin claimed that any party member dismissed from employment would be able to receive substantial compensation.[290] The BNP advised those named on the list to deny their membership and said that they would confirm that in writing if required.[291] The BNP claimed it contained the names of persons who had never been members of the BNP.[286] The BNP's Lee Barnes claimed that the list was false.[292]

People affected by the disclosure included a DJ, Rod Lucas, who was dropped by the Talksport radio station. He said: "I am an investigative radio journalist and am a member of over 20 political parties and pressure groups...It doesn't necessarily mean I agree with their views."[293] A drama teacher at a prep school whose name was found on the list had been dismissed from a previous position as a result of her BNP membership.[294]

Following an investigation by Welsh police and the Information Commissioner's Office, two people were arrested in December 2008 for breach of the Data Protection Act concerning the leak.[295] Matthew Single was subsequently found guilty and fined £200. The fine was criticised as an "an absolute disgrace" by a BNP spokesman and a detective sergeant involved said he was "disappointed" with the outcome.[296]

Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality and Human Rights Commission sent the BNP a letter in 2009, ahead of legal action, setting out concerns about the BNP's constitution and membership criteria. It alleged that the BNP's constitution restricting membership to white people was unlawful under the Race Relations Act. The BNP chose to fight this opinion in the High Court.

The Commission issued county court proceedings against party leader Nick Griffin and two other officials.[297][298]

The conclusion of the case in October 2009 saw costs awarded against the BNP.[299] The BNP stated that Griffin was "required in Brussels" on that day. Griffin had written to BNP members preparing to concede the case because it would be too expensive to fight[300] and would "strip the party of the ability to fight the next general election".[301] Griffin subsequently announced that he would ask BNP members to accept the court's decision and allow non-whites to join the party,[302] claiming that this action "outflanked" the EHRC.[303] The BNP anticipated that its members would accept the change on financial grounds.[304]

The BNP agreed to suspend further membership applications until an Extraordinary General Meeting in January 2010 confirming changes to the constitution. The case was adjourned in order to ensure compliance.[305] As a result of the case, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain protested against the BBC's inclusion of Griffin on the Question Time programme, claiming the court case meant the BNP was "an unlawful body". Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "A shiny new constitution does not a democratic party make. It would be a pyrrhic victory, to say the least, if anyone thought that giving the BNP a facelift would make the slightest difference to a body with so much racism and hatred pumping through its veins."[304]

The courts declared that the new constitution still breached equality laws and was still indirectly discriminatory. Judge Paul Collins ordered the BNP to pay costs and said its membership list must remain "closed" until it complied with race relations laws. The BNP claimed that it had a waiting list of black and Asian people and wanted more applications from ethnic minorities.[306]

In November 2010, the BNP leadership was accused of lying over the matter by the EHRC who claimed that the offending passage had not been removed but merely altered.[307] In a subsequent hearing the BNP leadership was found not guilty of the contempt of court. The EHRC said: "Eighteen months and seven court hearings later Mr Griffin has finally amended the constitution to bring it in line with what the Commission had originally requested."[308] Griffin said: "This is a great day, because the British National Party has won a spectacular David and Goliath victory".[309]

Accusations of fraud

It was reported on October 10, 2011, that the BNP is under investigation for fraud regarding the submission of false invoices to the Electoral Commission.[310]

Opposition

The BNP is condemned by many sections of the media, including right-wing newspapers such as the Daily Mail. High-ranking politicians from each of the mainstream parties have, at various times, called for their own supporters to vote for anyone but the BNP,[311][312] In 2008, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated: "Londoners and the rest of the British people know that backing the BNP is totally at odds with what it really means to be British—and the great British values the rest of us share, such as democracy and decency, freedom and fairness, tolerance and equality."[313] Conservative Party leader David Cameron,[314] Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg,[315] and former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell[316] have all condemned the BNP.

The British Government announced in 2009 that the BNP's two MEPs would be denied some of the access and information afforded to other MEPs. The BNP would be subject to the "same general principles governing official impartiality" and they would receive "standard written briefings as appropriate from time to time", but diplomats would not be "proactive" in dealing with the BNP MEPs and that any requests for policy briefings from them would be treated differently and on a discretionary basis.[317]

Amongst the most visible and vocal opponents of the BNP and other far right-wing groups are Unite Against Fascism and Searchlight. Unite Against Fascism, which aims to unite a broad spectrum of opposition to the far-right, includes the Anti-Nazi League, the National Assembly Against Racism and the Student Assembly Against Racism. Searchlight has monitored the activities of far-right groups in Britain and abroad, including the BNP and its members, for many years.

Some opponents of fascism call for no coverage to be given to groups or individuals enunciating what they describe as "hate speech". The "No Platform" stance is to deny perceived fascist hate speech any sort of publicity. The policy is most commonly associated with university student unions and debating societies,[318] but has also resulted in BNP candidates being banned from speaking at various hustings meetings around the country. In 2005, the Leeds Student newspaper was criticised after publishing an interview with Nick Griffin.[319] Also in 2005, an invitation to Nick Griffin by the University of St Andrews Union Debating Society to participate in a debate on multiculturalism was withdrawn after protests.[320] Direct action has been taken against the BNP stalls in shopping centres.[321] The BNP claims that such cases exemplify how political correctness is being used to silence it and suppress its right to freedom of speech.[322]

In May 2007, a presentation by Nick Griffin was to be held at the University of Bath, but the University withdrew permission due to concerns over the large number of people opposing the meeting and possible disruption it could cause.[323]

In October 2010, a Democratic Unionist Party councillor in Northern Ireland, Bobby McKee, condemned a BNP leafleting campaign in his home town of Larne opposing a refugee dentention centre being built there.[324]

The Anti-Nazi League-organised group, Love Music Hate Racism, organises regular music events in opposition to the far-right.[325]

Veterans and Second World War

In June 2009, the Royal British Legion wrote to Griffin privately to ask him to stop wearing their poppy symbol. After he refused and wore the badge at campaign events and on the party's televised election broadcast, The Legion said in an open letter: "True valour deserves respect regardless of a person's ethnic origin, and everyone who serves or has served their country deserves nothing less ... [our national chairman] appealed to your sense of honour. But you have responded by continuing to wear the poppy. So now we're no longer asking you privately. Stop it, Mr Griffin. Just stop it."[326] In September 2009, the Legion accepted a donation which it had initially rejected from BNP member Rachel Firth. Firth had spent 24 hours raising the money, half of which was given to the Legion and the other half to the BNP. The Legion said that Firth had assured them that the donation would not be exploited politically although the story was later "splashed across" the BNP's website. BNP spokesman Simon Darby denied that the party exploited the story.[327]

Winston Churchill's family has criticised the BNP after the party used his image and quotes from one of his speeches in its campaign. Churchill's grandson, Nicholas Soames, described the BNP as "monstrous" and said its use of Churchill was "offensive and disgusting".[328]

The BNP was also caught up in a dispute with 1940s singer Vera Lynn after she objected to the party selling copies of her White Cliffs of Dover CD on its website to fund its European election campaign.[329]

Online presence

In September 2007, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Hitwise, the online competitive intelligence service, said that the BNP website had more hits than any other website of a British political party.[330] In 2009, the party's website came under fire after it was revealed that much of the merchandise it sold was made in Honduras, contrary to the party's pledge of "British Jobs for British Workers".[331]

Affiliated organisations

Officially linked groups

  • The short-lived American Friends of the British National Party gave financial assistance to the BNP from American supporters, and it also facilitated contact between far right figures in both countries.[332]
  • The Trafalgar Club is the BNP fundraising club, and the name the party uses to book hotels and conference facilities.
  • The BNP Ethnic Liaison Committee is an organisation that people from ethnic minorities can join. The committee has joined with BNP members in staging demonstrations.
  • Great White Records is a record label launched in January 2006 that is described by the BNP as "a patriotic label". It launched a campaign to introduce British folk music to schoolchildren. Most of the songs were sung by Doncaster folk musician Lee Haggan, and were written by Nick Griffin. Haggan denied that the BNP was targeting schools; in a TV interview Griffin said "It's a great way of getting our message to children."[333]
  • Albion Life Insurance was set up in September 2006 as an insurance brokerage company on behalf of the BNP, in order to raise funds for its actvities.[334] The firm ceased to operate in November 2006.[335]
  • The BNP obtains some of its funding from the sale of books and heraldic or Norse jewellery. The merchandising arm of the British National Party is the Excalibur brand.[336]

International political contacts

The BNP and the French Front National have co-operated on numerous occasions. Jean-Marie Le Pen visited the UK in 2004 to assist in launching the BNP's European Parliament campaign and Nick Griffin repaid the favour by sending a delegation of BNP officials to the FN's annual 'First of May Joan of Arc parade' in Paris in 2006.[337][338] The BNP has links with Germany's National Democratic Party. Griffin addressed an NPD rally in August 2002, headed by Udo Voigt, who Gerhard Schroeder accused of trying to remove immigrants from eastern Germany. In the run-up to the 2004 European Parliament election campaign, Nick Griffin visited Sweden to give the National Democrat Party his endorsement. Members of the Swedish National Democrats were present at the BNP's 2005 Red White and Blue rally.[339]

In London on 16 May 2008, Nick Griffin met leaders of the Hungarian far right party Jobbik to discuss co-operation between the two parties. Griffin spoke at a Jobbik party rally in August 2008.[340] In April 2009, Simon Darby, deputy chairman of the BNP, was welcomed with fascist salutes by members of the Italian nationalist Forza Nuova during a trip to Milan. Darby stated that the BNP would look to form an alliance with France's Front National in the European Parliament,[341] though this has not happened.

Alleged front organisations

  • Solidarity – The Union for British Workers has been linked to the BNP,[342][343] but its president, Patrick Harrington, and the BNP both deny that it is a BNP front organisation.[344][345]
  • The Christian Council of Britain was set up by BNP members and supporters to organise Christians "in defence of traditional Christian values". The United Reformed Church has said that support for organisations such as the BNP is incompatible with Christianity. The Council's liaison officer denies it is a BNP front.[346][347]
  • Opponents of the BNP claim that the English Defence League is a front for BNP activity, although the BNP denies any link and says that the EDL is "proscribed" to its members.[348][349] It has been reported that an EDL website was set up by Chris Renton, a BNP activist who has been accused of hijacking the EDL.[350][351] In a radio interview in July 2009, EDL spokesperson Paul Ray confirmed this[352] but the EDL attempted to distance itself from him.[353] The website was taken down, according to Hopenothate ”in an apparent attempt to conceal any link”[354] In a broadcast audio conversation with Simon Darby, Nick Griffin claimed that the EDL was a “Zionist false flag operation” and "a neo-con operation”. They claimed that it was an attempt to provoke a low level civil war.[355][356] In 2010, Lee Barnes was removed as head of the party's legal department for calling for "British nationalists to join the EDL demonstration".[357]

Notes

  1. ^ The name British National Party had been used in politics previously by four organisations, most notably by the a Mosleyite party which became the English National Association and by a 1960s party initiated by John Bean, which became part of the National Front. Tyndall was a leading member of the 1960s BNP and a founder of the present party.
  2. ^ According to academic Martin Harrison in The British General Election of 1983, the BNP broadcast "was less heavily anti-black than the National Front's".
  3. ^ There were overtures at a possible BNP and NF Flag Group reunification as the Nationalist Alliance. It was Andrew Brons of the NF Flag Group who attempted to engineer this.[28] It came to nothing after Martin Wingfield, one of the NF Flag Group leaders, rejected the possibility in The Flag magazine. Wingfield had a long-standing grudge with BNP chairman Tyndall.[28]
  4. ^ The march was organised by the Anti-Nazi League.[43] Thousands of people attended the demonstration, for which 2,600 police officers were deployed.[44] A hardcore element associated with the SWP and Militant[45] refused to accept police instruction to divert the march away from the BNP's headquarters itself, once it had gone past it. In a resulting riot, 21 police officers and 41 demonstrators were injured,[44] leading to a frontpage headline "Masked mob stone police" in the Mail on Sunday.[42][46]

References

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