The New Year on the far right will of course start with the usual mix of optimism, hangover and delusion but it will certainly be interesting as it continues to fragment and feud between pro- and anti-Griffinite BNPers, the ‘reinvigorated’ NF and the EDL as the election looms.
“Woe is thee, BNP!”
2009 was a watershed year for the BNP with excessive coverage of Nick Griffin’s Question Time appearance and the very real achievement of gaining 2 MEPs. Despite the media, QT did not provide the great goosestep forward that the BNP were hoping for. The ensuing publicity DID garner significant interest for the BNP (Huzzah!) but with the membership list being frozen (Boo!) whilst the EHRC enquiry into the constitution continues (boo!) this did little in concrete terms to help either their election prospects or their dire financial situation. (double Boo!). A significant percentage of interest gained from QT will in all likelihood be ‘cold’ when membership is reopened as the moment will have passed (Boo!). To add to this, there was also the membership list mystery and the trial of Matt Single who was found guilty of leaking the names (Boo!). They have lost a couple of council elections, the Stoke BNP stronghold appears to be fragmenting over ideological differences and the Northwest organiser Chris Jackson and friends have defected to the NF. (Boo!) Both Liverpool and Newcastle BNP branches have been involved in ‘confrontatational paper sales’ in the city centres which has led some on the far right to suspect their motives and question their ‘integrity.’(Boo!)  Public street fights are not an election winner. So far, not good.
To add to this the BNP accounts for 2008 were submitted late thus gaining a £1,000 fine and some concern over who is actually responsible for the mess. There have been several ‘accountants’ handling the books over the last couple of years including Kenny Smith, John Walker and Jenny Noble who have either been manipulated or removed from the position. Like the 2007 accounts, the latest financial statements “do not give a true and fair view” of the state of the party’s affairs.  These fiscal machinations have not gone unnoticed by members, supporters and critics of the BNP. That there are pro-and anti-Griffin strains in the BNP is clear but even those who support him often wonder what is exactly going on with the money. Ideology aside, if a party like the BNP is trying to gain acceptance as a realistic electoral option, being exposed for crassly fiddling the books is not going to help anyone. Griffin is seen by many activists on the far right, including some of his supporters, to have questionable motives: many see him as firming up his pension and salting away his MEP salary at the expense of the BNP; there remain questions over the money raised for the ‘truth truck’ which was only hired, not bought; he has manipulated the BNP rules to ensure he remains leader; he is renown for strong-arming dissenters out of the way; and his supporters have used the Covert Undercover website  and the VNN forum to smear opponents.
So what about 2010? Griffin is being ‘forced’ into accepting non-whites into the BNP which will cause much consternation and potential defections to the NF, UKIP or similar but the main issue that concerns anti-fascists is Griffin standing for the Barking seat at the next General Election. He snatched this from Richard Barnbrook, currently a member for the London General Assembly, much to the latter’s dischuffment. The campaign so far has not been impressive: a giant billboard of a smug and overweight Griffin toasting the good folks of Barking with a glass of red wine seems misdirected. The BNP will be fielding candidates for local council elections as well but their financial situation is not looking promising with deficits clear in the published accounts that could hinder this.
The ‘New’ National Front
A major worry for the BNP’s forthcoming campaign is that the rival NF is intending to stand rival candidates thus splitting the racist/nationalist vote. The NF website informs us of “the preparations for a carefully selected number of candidates in the May 2010 Council elections and also a sensible number of candidates for the expected General Election.”  This will obviously damage the BNP as will UKIP and whatever other bonkers grupuscules that may pop up in the next few months to stand on anti-EU/immigration/reality tickets.
Having long existed in the shadow of the ‘mighty’ BNP, the NF has recently been undergoing fundamental changes which bear a little scrutiny. Until December 2009 the NF was chaired by ageing technophobe Tom Holmes who has been steadily undermined by more web savvy members with devious intentions. Holmes’ communications with the membership tended to consist of photocopied and posted letters, significantly less efficient than group emails. Eddy Morrison has often been accused of being ‘state’ and is viewed suspiciously by many, including the dead John Tyndall, and he has been behind the scenes organising something of a coup. Morrison joined the NF recently and is still only a ‘probationary’ member. Morrison took control of the NF domain name in May 2009 which means he has access to all information coming in and out of the NF email accounts. In September 2009, he engineered a meeting which ousted Holmes’ right hand man Bernard Franklin. As the Morrison clique muscled in, Holmes issued a statement urging members to only forward cheques to him, aware that Morrison could have capitalised on this. The situation now is that the NF leadership is reinvigorated with Holmes’ ousted, the Morrison clique in control of communications and the recent defector from the BNP Chris Jackson onboard with his organisational experience.
There are those on the far right who feel that this ‘new’ NF is a state-inspired attempt to split the BNP’s vote and reduce its electoral success but the NF is even less financially secure than the BNP so where the deposits and money for electioneering are going to come from is a vexed question. The current membership is a fixed £10 so even if they were flooded with members they would need at least 50 new members per candidate, or several extremely generous ones, and this seems unlikely at the moment.
Of course the fight against fascism is not just conducted on the campaign trail but also on the streets and it is here that the far-right have been most visible in the last 6 months. What the next year brings will be interesting. The EDL emerged following last year’s Luton demonstration by Muslim radicals and the EDL ranks hold a mix of political views. Although the EDL leadership claim to dislike Nazis they have totally failed to control or exclude them. The view of the EDL on the far right is very mixed indeed. The EDL have flown the Israeli flag on their demos but rather than supporting Israel it is more likely to be used as an irritant: and it has worked to not only enflame Islamic ire but also to alienate the EDL from many on the far right who still go along with all that ‘Zionists- taking-over the world” stuff. However, fascists being fascists, the chance to prove their prowess on the pavement and get their faces in the media is too difficult to resist. The EDL claim that they have mixed race members but these are rarely seen in the photographs and the majority appear to white football hooligans and members of various far right groups.
Whilst in no way underestimating their ability to make a mess wherever they go, the EDL are closely monitored by the cops (and wearing a hoody with ‘Luton Division’ on makes things a bit easier lads!). The leadership, who seemingly have little control over their crowd, liaise with the police and ensure that they are escorted to the nearest boozer, allowed to drink and shout and then shuffled back again having been closely contained by a thick blue line. Consequently, the opposition which includes the more moderate UAF as well as the militant Antifa have relatively little access to the EDL.
Although making a media splash in England, their Welsh and Scottish adventures have fared rather embarrassingly. The Scottish demos were either curtailed by the cops or badly attended and one Welsh demo was taken over by Bolton Wanderers fans who sang God Save The Queen whilst waving a St’ George flag about. The EDL’s sister site, Casuals United said the “SWANSEA DEMO WAS HIJACKED BY NAZIS THAT IS ACCEPTED AND THE REASON THERE WONT BE ANOTHER.”  In Enger-land however the scene is slightly different. Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham got them a lot of publicity whilst other demos have failed to register.
The EDL maintain a vigilant web presence frequently plaguing anarchist/left sites, notably the ‘reasonable’ Arthur or more illiterate aggressors. It is on the web that the EDL have desperately tried to play down any racist/fascist links and fretted itself into a delusional state: despite all the images of Sieg-Heiling members they continue to deny there is anyone doing this. They claim to exclude Nazis and that all the photographs and film are somehow fabricated. Which means either they suffer from advanced collective myopia or someone is working overtime on Photo-shop. A quick glance over the far-right forums show Nazi involvement: “i only attend these demo’s as a chance to have a go at the commie scum … i’ve only stood with people i know and we’ve done our own thing outside the corden [sic].” And: “It’s kicked off with Reds on EVERY demo … un-fortunately despite trying to stay outside the cordon the old bill normally throw me in the main EDL escort and I carn’t [sic] get out.” Another Nazi poster wrote: “everyone ive met on these demo’s has been the same as us.”
The EDL rightly believe that media presence is important but fail to comprehend that it is HOW that media presence is represented and therefore perceived that differentiates between good and bad publicity. They believe in the myth that all publicity is good publicity which is not the case. Ask Gary Glitter. They congratulate themselves on achieving a media event but have achieved absolutely nothing politically. Whilst the EDL claim to want to stop Islamic Extremism, all they end up with are several arrests, constant surveillance and a few lagers with a large bill left over for the locals to pay, like the £1/2 million left at Nottingham.
So what next for the EDL? Well, they will continue to be supported by some on the Nazi side for their pro-active stance but berated by others for their ‘ZOG/state/multiracial’ aspects. They are demonstrating in Stoke which will no doubt cause trouble. The BNP are strong there and the local football firm, the Naughty Forty, will no doubt get involved. They are also organising for the proposed Islam4UK demonstration at the military mourning procession at Wootton Bassett soon. Whether this is a deliberately provocative publicity stunt by Anjem Choudry or even goes ahead is at the moment uncertain. There are whispered intimations that the EDL could become a political party but this may be unrealistic. Many of the demonstrators are clearly there for a drink and a bit of argy bargy and it is doubtful they would have the stomach for campaigning, leafleting and meetings. If they did become an electioneering prospect then this, along with the NF and UKIP, will further split any potential racist/white nationalist vote. So all in all, an interesting and potentially fractious run-up for the next elections.
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 Currently offline following the Eddy Morrison/Tommy Williams confrontation last year. See Eddy, Steady, Go!: Eddy Morrison and The NF by ‘Malatesta.’