Garbageland: The BNP Leadership Challenge

The BNP leadership contest is coming to a head shortly with Nick Griffin under considerable pressure from several angles. The pro-Griffin web presence such as the official BNP site, the lubricious Green Arrow and VNNuk continue to smear and deny in equal measure whilst the Your BNP, EnoughIsEnough, the NWN forum, the splinter RealNationalistsOnline and Stormfront websites back Eddie Butler or are just against Griffin. Fringe forum British Democracy has witnessed some interestingly rancorous comments being slung across the great divide as well. Butler (or Bitler) is the only real challenger although there are a couple of other hopeful mugs lurking in the wings. The problem is in finding candidates who do not have the political baggage of holocaust denial and stupid public statements or criminal records. Butler is not without support but as a recent Griffin stooge he still attracts the animosity of many anti-Griffinites. The anti-Butlerite smears started after he fell out with Griffin and the alleged pictures of him at a Belgian brothel were spread around. Anyone monitoring the fascist websites will recognise the pattern: former golden boy falls foul of Nicklops and is subject to online harassment, lies and sometimes truths. The BNP has always attracted nutcases, deviants, criminals and fantasists so it is not difficult to unearth some tasty dirt on most key players.

With typical underhand sleight, Griffin has been shiftily moving the goalposts as to how to qualify as a challenger. Recently he rewrote the constitution so that any candidate has to secure the support of 20% rather than the previous 5% of the members who are eligible to vote following 2 years membership. However, many BNP members sign up in a fit of racist pique then let their membership drop after a year, so maintaining a solid core of supporters is difficult. Whoever wins, and Griffin has drawn on all available resources to maintain his position as petty Führer, the schism in the BNP will be a difficult one to heal. If Griffin wins, his online attack dogs have stated, then those who have been listed as Butler supporters will  be purged in a typical ‘Night Of The Penknives.’ Griffin has been busy expelling members who are vocally against him such as the recent raft of suspensions in Liverpool BNP, and with all those who have defected in disgust over his autocratic leadership style, the far right is far from united. (It does seem somewhat ironic that a fascist party membership complains about dictatorship though.) It seems no one is safe from expulsion: who would have thought this time last year that Nazi boy Mark Collett would be given the jackboot?

There are a great many ‘patriots’ who have left or never even been members all shouting from the sidelines but also many members in the BNP who are vehemently against Griffin’s jobs for the boys mentality, the lateness and legitimacy of the party accounts and the rather spectral influence of one Jim Dowson who is controlling much of the cash and information on the membership. The political direction Griffin has forced the BNP into to gain electoral credibility following the expensive Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) case over their membership rules, proved to be a watering down of racial politics for a reduced vote return. The current popularity of the English Defence League is partly due to the moribund state of the BNP, mired in infighting, corruption allegations and suffering from diminished political credibility.

Griffin has long been criticised for his nepotism: important posts are given to those he favours rather than those who can actually do the job and also to people who aren’t even members such as at the Belfast call centre run by Jim Dowson. This is one of the reasons the accounts are in such a state: he has given the job to those who have few or no accounting skills and it is a serious job which requires considerable understanding of the legalities surrounding party expenditure and funding. Batty Boy Lee Barnes’ position of legal advisor is a typically ridiculous choice. Staff members have also complained about not being paid or paid late, branches have been unable to meet printing bills and other costs or repay loans. What is also interesting, according to online sources, is that Griffin does not have anything registered in his name so should the BNP collapse and the leader end up being held financially accountable he will have nothing that can be sequestered. He could feasibly safely move on and create another party from the remnants whilst keeping his MEP job.  

Griffin has been criticised for his centralism and wrecking previously strong BNP areas. In Stoke during the recent election, popular local councillor Alby Walker was removed as candidate in favour of non-local Simon Darby; Griffin took the Barking MP campaign off Richard Barnbrook substituting himself as candidate with hilarious results; and he has apparently ‘confiscated’ the funds from East Midlands BNP. All of which indicates political gangsterism in the foulest degree.

One of Bitler’s main target is the money. The EHRC case  over membership rules was widely seen as a pointless and expensive forgone conclusion, and the incredible Marmite blunder will no doubt lead to more financial repercussions. The accounts have consistently been delivered  late to the Elections Committee resulting in fines and there is a lack of transparency as to how much money there is and how it is being spent. This, along with his ever more frequent begging letters – a recent one was asking for as little as 50p! – is a grave source of consternation to the membership.

Given the paranoid nature of far right politics conspiracy theories are regularly hatched as to why Griffin has made such tactical errors. The online fascists often make accusations of people being ‘wrong ’uns’ and ‘state assets’ but Griffin has long been suspected by some of being compromised. The ongoing rumour of his homosexual relationship with ex-NF Martin Webster is seen as a source of possible blackmail but if you want to know about Nazis, read what the Nazis say. On the RealNationalistsOnline forum, under Politics & Activism, is a thread entitled Nick Griffin: The Trojan Horse Amongst Us which offers up a few interesting theories as to how and why he has been doing what he does best, i.e., wrecking the beloved BNP. To save your valuable time the article, for once fairly coherent, mentions that MI5’s chief recruiting ground has been Cambridge university where Griffin went and that they have obviously infiltrated the BNP after the Combat 18 escapade. They conjecture that the secret state could be maintaining the BNP as a safety valve (but also in order to monitor the membership). It also points out that Griffin has never been investigated or convicted for anything recently despite the accusations of fraud flying about. Given that Griffin has been driving the BNP into the brick wall of political oblivion it does seem slightly tenable. 

Not wanting to be embarrassed in the future by making predictions we are not going to put our money on either Griffin or Butler coming out on top but it has been an interesting year so far for BNP watchers with Stoke, Barking, Question Time, the EDL and EHRC, Marmite and now the leadership challenge. What we can safely say is that for the moment the BNP is imploding and whatever the outcome there is potential for a massive split in the BNP but also the possibility of a new fascist party rising from its remnants.  The biggest enemy of the BNP, as usual, is themselves.  

‘Malatesta’

NB: all material by ‘Malatesta’ is copyright free.

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About malatesta32

Malatesta, undercover anti-fascist blogger, has analyzed the changing fortunes of the British far right since 2009. He has written for the anarchist magazine Freedom and the book, Militant Anti-Fascism: 100 Years Of Resistance (AK Press 2015). http://www.akuk.com/index.php?_a=product&product_id=7285
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