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The British National Party (BNP) is a far-right political party formed as a splinter group of the National Front by John Tyndall in 1982. Until 2009, when it was challenged in the courts on grounds of racial discrimination, it restricted membership to people of "Caucasian origin".

The BNP seeks to restore the overwhelmingly white ethnicity of Britain that existed prior to 1948 through legal means, including "firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home". and the repeal of anti-discrimination legislation. It believes that there are significant differences between races. The party is ostracised by mainstream political parties in the UK.

In 2005, the last UK general election, the party received 0.7% of the popular vote but had no candidates elected to Parliamentmarker. In the 2006 English local elections the party doubled its number of seats in Englandmarker. The BNP finished fifth in the 2008 London mayoral election with 5.2% of the popular vote and secured one of the London Assembly's 25 seats. They and won their first county council seats in 2009 together with two seats in the European Parliamentmarker. The party's media profile has increased under its current leader Nick Griffin, a former national organiser of the National Front.

History

The current use of the name British National Party is its fourth appearance in British politics. The original BNP emerged during World War II when a handful of former members of the British Union of Fascists took on the name. This group would later become known as the English National Association. A second British National Party also emerged in 1960 and went on to form a part of the National Front (NF). Around 1970, Eddy Morrison briefly attempted to organise a group of this name in Leeds but he quickly abandoned the idea to join the NF.

Founding of the modern BNP

The current BNP has its roots in the New National Front, founded in 1980 by John Tyndall, a former chairman of the National Front. In 1982, the New National Front and a faction of the then-disintegrating British Movement led by Ray Hill merged to form the new British National Party. Tyndall was elected leader and Hill became his deputy, with much of the early funding provided by Tyndall's father-in-law, Charles Parker.

In 1983, in its first general election, the party sponsored 53 candidates; three more than was required to obtain a Party Election Broadcast on television. The broadcast was transmitted on 31 May and consisted of Tyndall, flanked by two Union Flags, speaking to a camera. Images of the Brixton riotmarker were shown as Tyndall's speech was broadcast. One observer noted that the "emphasis was less heavily anti-black ... than the National Front's". The giving of television time to the BNP was controversial, and was debated on Right to Reply on Channel 4.

During the campaign, Tyndall stated that the only significant differences between the BNP and the National Front lay in the fact that his party would bar homosexuals from high office, and he said that he was hopeful that the two parties could reunite. This policy, however, was in direct contrast to the National Front's proposed Bill of Rights in their own 1983 General Election manifesto (Let Britain Live) making discrimination on grounds of sexuality a criminal offence (the first British political party in fact to publicly make such a commitment) and may have been more intended to siphon NF members unhappy with a manifesto pledge largely at the insistence of NF's National Activities Organiser (and de facto leader) Martin Webster who, despite being gay himself, was once one of Tyndall's close allies.

The party's candidates won 14,621 votes in that election. The BNP's average vote was less than the National Front, and in the two constituencies where both parties stood candidates, the NF was clearly more popular. Unbeknown to the BNP, Ray Hill was also working for Searchlight, and observers have suggested that the party's relatively low profile in its early years may have been related to his sabotage. However this needs to be offset against the fact that Ray Hill polled by far the highest BNP vote that election (see also the later 1992 infiltration by Tim Hepple on the behalf of Searchlight.

The increase in the deposit required of parliamentary candidates hindered the party during the 1987 general elections, when it had only two candidates. The first time that the BNP attracted widespread attention was the Dewsbury riot of Summer 1989. Around 1,000 people took part in a "Rights for Whites" demonstration after some white parents in Dewsbury had been trying to withdraw their children from racially integrated schools.

1990s

After some financial troubles, the party's national headquarters were established at Wellingmarker in South East Londonmarker in 1989. In the early 1990s, the party saw a growth in popularity mainly in Londonmarker and the urban southeast. In the borough of Tower Hamletsmarker the BNP gained its first council seat (a campaign directed by Eddy Butler).

Tim Hepple and the BNP's first council seat

During this time Searchlight had once more infiltrated the party, this time in their Brick Lane 'Bunker' HQ in Wellingmarker courtesy of Tim Hepple, subsequently detailed in July 1993's expose booklet At War With Society (ISBN 0952203804 : 9780952203803).

The BNP's chief steward, Derek Beackon, was elected as the party's first councillor in a September 1993 by-election in Millwall by a majority of seven votes; he was a last minute replacement for Eddy Butler, and not originally expected to win. Although Beackon achieved little on the council before the full council elections (in which he lost his seat, largely due to an increased local turnout), the by-election win led to more publicity for the party.

This led to accusations by such anti-fascist and anti-racist groups as Red Action, Green Anarchist, and Workers Against Racism that Searchlight had employed Hepple to overhaul the BNP in order to keep themselves employed at a time when the far-right was at its lowest ebb since the 1950s. This claim was substantiated by Larry O'Hara's booklets A Lie Too Far and At War With The Truth, which exposed Hepple and Hill's attempted agent provocateur activities among environmental campaigners at Twyford Downmarker. Both would subsequently retire from their activities with Searchlight.

The party headquarters site became a venue for anti-fascist protesters who linked its presence to racist attacks in the surrounding area. A near-riot ensued on 16 October 1993 when the police forced a 15,000 anti-BNP protest march to change its route away from outside the party building. During the riot, 31 people were arrested and 19 police officers were injured.

Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial

The BNP, its former leaders and present leader, Nick Griffin, have promoted anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the past. In 1996, writing in his own publication, The Rune, Griffin stated that:

The following year, during a Cook Report documentary he stated:

In 1988, The Sunday Times revealed that Holocaust News, a publication that claimed the Holocaust was an "evil hoax", was being published by the BNP's then deputy leader, Richard Edmonds, on behalf of a BNP front organisation, the Centre for Historical Review, and distributed by members. John Tyndall, the party's leader, said he was not involved in the publication but that it had his full support.

The 2002 Channel 4 documentary Young, Nazi and Proud featured hidden-camera footage of the then BNP youth leader Mark Collett stating his admiration for Adolf Hitler, and stating "I'd never say this on camera, the Jews have been thrown out of every country including England. It's not just persecution. There's no smoke without fire." It also featured footage of visitors to the party's annual "Red White and Blue" festival, some of whom wore the legend "88" (code for HH, "Heil Hitler"). Collett resigned from the party after the documentary's filming, but rejoined shortly afterwards, with Griffin's approval, on the condition that Collett change his views on the subject.

In 2006, the party's deputy chairman Scott McLean was shown on the TV documentary Nazi Hate Rock making Hitler salutes at a white supremacist cross-burning ceremony where racist songs were sung and jokes made about Auschwitzmarker.

The BNP claims that it has now cast off "the thinly veiled anti-Semitism" that the party has Jewish members, and that one of its councillors, Pat Richardson (Epping Forest), is herself Jewish.

However, for the 2009 European Parliament election, the BNP fielded a candidate who stated that "dentistry and plastic surgery" were positives to come out of the Holocaust, and endorsed Did Six Million Really Die?, a neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial booklet.

Griffin leadership

Nick Griffin


Nick Griffin joined the BNP in 1995. In 1999, he replaced Tyndall as BNP leader after a contested leadership election. Once comfortably in position, Griffin began a programme of modernising the BNP's image, rephrasing the policy of the compulsory repatriation of non-whites and rewording it as a "firm encouragement" for voluntary repatriation.

In the 2002 local elections, the BNP won three seats in Burnleymarker and averaged 20 percent of the votes where it positioned councillors.

BBC documentary

Increasing electoral success led to increased scrutiny from the press. In The Secret Agent, a BBC documentary broadcast on 15 July 2004, filmmaker Jason Gwynne went undercover and joined the BNP for six months. His secret filming recorded party leader Nick Griffin calling Islam a "wicked, vicious faith". In his speech, Griffin also stated that "For saying that, I tell you, I will get seven years if I said that outside", referring to the maximum sentence for the criminal offence of incitement to racial hatred.

The day after the documentary was broadcast, Barclays Bank froze, then suspended, the BNP's bank accounts. The BNP's response to the programme was that it had featured "the loudest and most hot-headed BNP activists [who] were deliberately plied with drink and subject to suggestive provocation". Griffin did not apologise for his own comments, stating that "it's still not illegal to criticise Islam". He and BNP member Mark Collett were subsequently tried and acquitted of incitement to racial hatred.

2000s

The party has positioned itself against Islam, which Griffin has repeatedly called "wicked and vicious". In the wake of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, the BNP released leaflets featuring images of the bombed Route 30 bus and the slogan "Maybe now it's time to start listening to the BNP." This move was criticised by the conservative Daily Mail as playing on people's emotions and grief following a horrendous attack.
Nick Griffin and Mark Collett leave Leeds Crown Court on 10 November 2006 after being found not guilty of charges of incitement to racial hatred at their retrial
On 21 July 2005, Griffin and BNP activist Mark Collett pleaded not guilty at Leeds Crown Court to four and eight charges, respectively, of incitement to racial hatred. The charges resulted from the BBC documentary The Secret Agent (see above). Preparing for a possible conviction, Griffin nominated West Midlands organiser Simon Darby as his temporary replacement if he were imprisoned. Tyndall died three days before he was due to give evidence in court. Eventually, Griffin and Collett were each acquitted of half of the charges against them, with no verdict delivered on the remaining charges. The Crown Prosecution Service announced that it would pursue a retrial on the remaining charges; Griffin and Collett were also cleared of these. They used the result of the trial to criticise the BBC. Following the trial, the possibility of tightening race hate laws has been discussed.

Apparently connected to the BNP's opposition to interracial relationships, regional organiser Kenneth Francis, of Newhammarker, East Londonmarker, was expelled from the BNP in April 2002 after it was revealed that his girlfriend was an Ecuadorianmarker asylum seeker.

After the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, the BNP republished one of the cartoons of Muhammad on a leaflet, accompanied by a photo of Muslim demonstrators holding placards urging violence against anyone who insulted Islam, with a caption asking "which of the two do you find offensive?"

2006 local elections
Events in the run up to the 2006 local elections seemed to show an increase in support for the BNP, with research carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, showing that, in the parts of Englandmarker where the BNP put most of its resources, one in four voters was considering voting BNP with the figure at one in five in parts of Londonmarker.

Labour minister Margaret Hodge claimed that 8 out of 10 voters from her constituency were thinking of voting for the BNP. When the BNP subsequently took 12 seats on Barking and Dagenham Councilmarker, local Labour activists shunned her approach as demonstrably generating hundreds of extra votes for the BNP. She still urges her progressive base to argue against ignoring the BNP's politics.

The increase in support for the BNP was described by some as a protest vote due to voter alienation with the three mainstream parties (Labour, Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats). The increase in support for the BNP was notably demonstrated by a poll released by YouGov, a British polling firm, that indicated that the BNP vote had reached seven percent in the wake of media attention, a more than tenfold increase over the previous general election.

Of surveyed voters, 59 percent supported the halting of all further immigration, and average support for the BNP propositions cited in the poll among those who did not know they were associated with the BNP was 55 percent. Most of the statements put, however, coincided with views also put forward by other political parties. There were also certain BNP propositions which were strongly opposed by those polled, including non-white citizens being inherently "less British", and the party's policy of encouraging the "repatriation" of ethnic minorities. Support also fell among those who were told that the policies were those of the BNP.

On 5 May 2006, the results of the elections were reported by the BBC and showed a marked increase for the BNP. Before the elections, the BNP was estimated to have held only about 20 local political seats, but the party presented about 350 candidates, of whom 33 were initially declared to be winners and a further 70 were placed second. This more than doubled the seats held by the BNP on district, borough and city councils, taking the total to 46 (out of around 21,000 such seats in the UK). It also gained a handful of seats on parish councils, giving it a total of around 53 all told. Also noteworthy is the fact that the London Borough of Barking and Dagenhammarker became, according to many newspapers, the first council in the United Kingdom to have the BNP as the second-biggest party.

The Guardian's infiltration

On 21 December 2006, The Guardian revealed that one of its journalists, Ian Cobain, had worked undercover in the BNP for seven months, and had become the party's central London organiser. 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" elsewhere. Members of the party 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".

In the aftermath of The Guardian's report, the campaign group Unite Against Fascism called for the 'BNP ballerina' Simone Clarke to be dismissed from the English National Ballet, with UAF vice-chair Weyman Bennett claiming her views on immigration were "incompatible with a leading arts institution such as the English National Ballet" and that she had "used her position to support a party which fosters division". However, Clarke defended her personal political opinion, stating that "the BNP is the only party to take a stand [against immigration]".

The BNP was investigated by the Electoral Commission on 12 April 2007 after The Guardian revealed that senior figures in the BNP had set up a front organisation in an attempt to raise money from sympathisers in the United Statesmarker.

2007 split

In December 2007, an internal dispute led to the resignation or expulsion of more than 60 of the party's local and national officials.

Several of its leading officials, including Councillor Sadie Graham and Kenny Smith (Head of Administration), had pressed for some months for the expulsion of three other senior officials—John Walker (National Treasurer), Dave Hannam (Deputy Treasurer) and Mark Collett (Director of Publicity)—who they accused of having brought the BNP into disrepute (the BNP later accused Graham and Smith of being "far left" infiltrators.) In December, frustrated by the failure of disciplinary proceedings, Graham and Smith launched a blog called "enoughisenoughnick" detailing their complaints against the trio. In response, Graham and Smith were swiftly dismissed from their positions by Nick Griffin. During the dispute which followed, 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 large number of BNP officials then resigned in support of Smith and Graham or were expelled. These included the head of the Young BNP, the head of BNP Security Training, the National Fundraiser Bev Scott, the head of the party's merchandising operation Excalibur, the editor of the party's website and 5 out of the 13 regional committees of the BNP. The leadership of the BNP asserted that the significance of the dispute was exaggerated and that it would quickly blow over. In late December 2007, the dissidents began to refer to themselves as the "Real BNP". They claimed 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—A New Dawn For the British National Party", announcing that "Voice of Change is 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 aim to challenge Nick Griffin's leadership, calling him "tyrannical", "arrogant" and stating that he is surrounded by "yes men". They did not directly disclose any policy differences with Griffin.

2008 membership list leak

On 18 November 2008, a membership list was leaked in breach of a court injunction. It contains details of more than 10,000 members, BNP membership list leaked online James Sturcke, Matthew Weaver and Ian Cobain, The Guardian with the names, home addresses and sometimes telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of BNP members including senior party officials, people aged under 18 (as parts of family membership), teachers, doctors, serving and former members of the military, police and prison officers (since 2004, police officers have faced dismissal if found to be members of the BNP), civil servants and members of the clergy, as well as people asking for discretion, due to employment concerns. At least one of those named had already disavowed his membership. The BNP-backed trade union Solidarity has stated that anyone concerned that they will be victimised at work on account of appearing on the list will receive immediate protection upon joining. It has condemned those who are seeking to encourage such harassment and warned bosses that they will face immediate action if they act in breach of human rights and/or employment law. Nick Griffin has claimed that any party member dismissed from employment will be able to receive substantial compensation, although this has not been the case in any previous court cases. The BNP advised those named on the list to deny their membership and said that they would confirm that in writing if required. The BNP claimed it contained the names of persons who had never been members of the BNP. BNP membership list leaked online James Sturcke, Matthew Weaver and Ian Cobain, The Guardian Lee Barnes claimed that the list had been tampered with and that it was false.

People affected by the disclosure include a Merseyside police constable, Steve Bettley, whose superiors suspended him pending an investigation. The Chief Constable said that BNP membership is "totally incompatible with the duties and values of Merseyside police." Bettley was dismissed four months later.

Also named was DJ Rod Lucas, who was dropped by the Talksport radio station. He defended his membership as being part of his research, saying that "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." A drama teacher at a prep shool whose name was found on the list was revealed to have been a presenter in BNP videos and to have lectured BNP activists in public speaking, and had been dismissed from a previous position as a result of her BNP membership.

Following an investigation by Welshmarker police and the Information Commissioner's Office, two people in Nottinghamshire were arrested in December 2008 for breach of the Data Protection Act concerning the leak. These were later revealed to be 37-year-old Matthew Single (an unemployed engineer) and his 30-year-old wife Sadie Graham-Single, of Brinsleymarker, Nottinghamshire. The former was charged, convicted and fined £200, and was ordered to pay £100 towards the cost of prosecution. The latter had all charges dropped completely. The judge himself said it was "ridiculous" that he could only fine people for such a serious crime, adding: "It came as a surprise to me, as it will to many members of the party, that to do something as foolish and as criminally dangerous as you did will only incur a financial penalty."

The leniency of the fine itself was a reflection of the fact that Mr. Single was on government benefits, but was criticised at the time both by a BNP spokesman (who described it as "an absolute disgrace") and by a detective sergeant (who said he was "disappointed" with the outcome). In the days that followed, the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham described the penalties for breaches of the Data Protection Act as "pathetic", and announced his intention to allow judges to impose tougher penalties.

British Army immigrant issue

The BNP is opposed to allowing British Army Gurkhas the right of settlement in the United Kingdommarker. On 12 May 2009, in a radio broadcast on BBC's Five Live, Griffin told presenter Nicky Campbell that on the issue of allowing retired Gurkhas the right to settle in Britain: "We don't think the most overcrowded country in Europe, can realistically say, 'Look, you can all come and all your relatives. Griffin went on to say, "When the Gurkhas signed up—frankly as mercenaries—they expected a pension which would allow them to live well in their own country." Later in the month, Nick Griffin told Sky News if he could swap 100,000 al Qaeda-supporting Muslims for the Gurkhas it "would be a good exchange".

There has been controversy concerning a statement to the newspaper The Sun by actress Joanna Lumley, condemning a leaflet which had allegedly been distributed by BNP candidate Adam Walker with a picture of a dead Gurkha soldier crossed out and attacking her campaign for settlement. Both Walker and the BNP have condemned this as a forgery, and the BNP have published a statement they attribute to Lumley and the Gurkha Justice Campaign, retracting the criticism. The Sun later retracted the allegation and accepted that neither the BNP nor Walker were responsible for the leaflet.

On 17 May 2009, The Daily Telegraph wrote that the BNP's leader, Nick Griffin, had branded Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC, a black Grenadamarker-born British Army recipient of the Victoria Cross an "immigrant" whose bravery was simply "routine". The Telegraph alleged that the BNP website called Beharry VC's award of the Victoria Cross "positive discrimination by the PC-mad government". Beharry was awarded his Victoria Cross in 2005 for action in Iraqmarker, when he returned to his burning armoured personnel carrier three times, under sustained enemy fire, to lift out his wounded comrades from the vehicle. The BNP has denied some of these allegations.

Question Time appearance

Following the BNP's performance in the 2009 European elections, the BBC controversially changed their policy on the BNP and invited Griffin onto the 22 October 2009 edition of Question Time.

Fascism

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. In the 1970s, the NF drifted towards a more corporatist and specifically anti-immigration policy stance in order to attract conservatives. The party's focus shifted once more in the 1980s, due to the failure to attract voters in the 1979 general election; they NF's ideology, however, was taken up by the newly formed BNP under the expelled Tyndall, who opposed de-radicalization. The NF splintered during this period, between the Political Soldier and Third Position ideas of Griffin, and the more traditionalist Flag Group. Piero Ignazi has said that the "proto-Nazi" mould of the NF, and the "generalized nostalgia for all sorts of fascist tendencies" and association with "foreign ideologies" which continued under the BNP, accounted for lack of success for both parties, especially in comparison to successful far-right parties in Europe, which disavowed the traditional "fascist mould".

The Daily Mirror has described the party's MEPs as "vile prophets who preach a Nazi-style doctrine of racial hatred". An editorial in The Guardian characterises the BNP as "a racist organisation with a fascist pedigree that rightfully belongs under a stone". Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg has described the BNP as "a party of thugs, fascists". Conservative Party leader David Cameron said of the BNP "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." Home Secretary Alan Johnson, speaking on BBC's Question Time (15 October 2009) 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." Peter Hain describes the BNP as "a racist organisation with known fascist roots and values" and wrote about its "racist and fascist agenda".

The BNP denies that it is fascist, calling the accusations "utter nonsense", and an attempt to "prevent freedom of speech". Griffin has said about the claims that he is a fascist "I am not a fascist—that is a smear that comes from the far left." He has also said that "he actually 'detested' fascism".

However, some political scientists support the fascist description and say that the BNP has attempted to hide its true nature and to present a more moderate image in order to attract popular support. Nigel Copsey examined the party's ideological position as revealed in its 2005 general election manifesto Rebuilding British Democracy and concluded that it was a recalibration of fascism rather than a fundamental break in ideology.

Policies

Since Griffin took over its leadership, the BNP has become less publicly extreme, promoting similar policies to the Euronationalist approach adopted by a number of far right European counterparts, such as the Austrian Freedom Party set up by Jörg Haider.

The BNP proposes to reintroduce corporal punishment, and to make capital punishment available for paedophiles, terrorists and murderers. In addition to increasing military defence spending, the BNP plans to reintroduce compulsory national service. The BNP proposes that citizens should keep a rifle and ammunition in their homes. It proposes "to end the conflict in Irelandmarker by welcoming Eire as well as Ulster as equal partners in a federation of the nations of the British Isles".

Central to the BNP's domestic 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. It has proposed that repossessed homes should become council houses, to prevent these being sold off cheaply to undercut private sellers, and to provide housing for those who need it.

The party supports animal welfare (such as the banning of Halal and Kosher slaughtering and the phasing out of factory farming) and environmental policies, supporting Greenpeace in its fight against Japanese whaling ships and the RSPCA's campaign against the docking of dogs' tails.

Economic policy

The economic policy of the party has developed over time. From the 1990s the party reflected protectionism and economic nationalism, although in comparison with other radical nationalist parties, the BNP focuses less on corporatism. The BNP would prefer economics to be driven by the interests of the nation and state, rather than the other way around. It has called for British ownership of its own industries and resources as well as the "subordination of the power of the City to the power of the government". It has also promoted the regeneration of farming in the United Kingdom, with the object of achieving maximum self-sufficiency in food production. Presently the United Kingdom is the fifth highest donor of foreign aid—the BNP has advocated ending this to greater aid the needy at home and finance immigrants who volunteer to be repatriated. In 2002, the party criticised corporatism due to the "mixture of big capitalism and state control", claiming to be more favourable to the "distributionist tradition established by home-grown thinkers" favouring small, privately owned business.

In its 2005 manifesto, the BNP declared its opposition to "globalism, international socialism, laissez-faire capitalism and economic liberalism". The BNP rejects the notion of Thatcherism and "submitting to the dictates of the international marketplace" which "has no loyalty to this country". 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 Japanmarker, South Koreamarker and Singaporemarker. In the manifesto the BNP claims that while immigration increases the aggregate GNP due to providing cheap labour, it decreases the per-capita GNP—the latter of which the BNP claims, as economic nationalists, is most representative of the economic well-being of British people and the figure they would strive to improve. The manifesto states that the United Kingdom has a much higher level of economic inequality between rich and poor, when compared to neighbouring first world countries. Though the party has recognised "old-style socialist methods" of simply taxing income away from the rich "turned out to have harmful effects", it would instead seek "non-destructive means to reduce income inequality".

Social and cultural policy

Racial and immigration policies

At its founding, the BNP was explicitly racist. In October 1990, the BNP was described by the European Parliament'smarker committee on racism and xenophobia as an "openly Nazi party ... whose leadership have serious criminal convictions ". When asked in 1993 if the BNP was racist, its deputy leader Richard Edmonds said, "We are 100 per cent racist, yes". Founder John Tyndall proclaimed that "Mein Kampf is my bible". When Nick Griffin became chairman in 1999, the party began to change its stance with regard to racial issues. Griffin claims to have repudiated racism, instead espousing what he calls "ethno-nationalism". He claims that his core ideology is "concern for the well-being of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish ethnic nations that compose the United Kingdom".

The BNP requires that all members must be members of the "Indigenous Caucasian" racial group. The party does not regard non-white people as being British, even if they have been born in the UK and are naturalised British citizens. Instead, Griffin has stated that "non-Europeans who stay", while protected by British law, "will be regarded as permanent guests".

The party has stated that it does not consider the Jewish, Hindu or Sikh religions to have a significantly detrimental or threatening effect, having several members with Jewish ancestry, but does not accept practising Sikhs or Hindus as culturally or ethnically British. In pursuit of the policy, the BNP has previously worked with extremist Hindu and Sikh groups opposing Islam, and actively tried to win Jewish votes.

The BNP is opposed to mixed-race relationships on the stated ground that racial differences must be preserved; the party said that "when whites take partners from other ethnic groups, a white family line that stretches back into deep pre-history is destroyed." Nick Griffin 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".

The party does however have a half-Turkish Cypriot, half-English councillor in Lawrence Rustem. In 2006, Sharif Abdel Gawad, a grandson of an Armenian refugee (also of partial Greek ancestry), was chosen as a council candidate in Bradfordmarker. Sharon Ebanks, the BNP's first councillor in Birmingham, has denied claims made by her stepmother, Glenys, that Sharon is mixed race; her black father, Radwell Ebanks, having been born in Jamaica. BNP member Simone Clarke has a mixed-race daughter by a Cuban-Chinese dancer.

The BNP supported University of Leedsmarker lecturer Dr. Frank Ellis, who was suspended from his post 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". Ellis called the BNP "a bit too socialist" for his liking and described himself as "an unrepentant Powellite" who would support "humane" repatriation. In April 2006, Sky News confronted the party's national press officer, Phil Edwards (it has been claimed that this is a pseudonym for Stuart Russell) with a tape of a telephone conversation the previous year. On the tape, Russell could be heard to say 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." 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".

Anti-Islam focus

The party states that "The BNP 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".

Consequently, the party has shifted allegiance in conflicts involving Israelmarker. 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 Lebanesemarker map and bomb them until they leave large greasy craters in the cities where their Islamic extremist cantons of terror once stood."

Nick Griffin has made it clear that this shift in emphasis is designed to increase the party's appeal. On one occasion, he stated, "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". In a speech to local party activists in Burnley in March 2006, he said:

Suggested policies to help police this "threat to all of us" include a Muslim no-fly policy, which would ban Muslims from flying in and out of the UK. The BNP erected a plaque in Oldhammarker, Greater Manchestermarker in memory of Gavin Hopley, a 19-year-old white man who was mugged and kicked to death by Asian Muslims in the street in Glodwickmarker, in February 2002. The plaque was later removed by the local council.

Anti-homosexuality

The BNP states that homosexuality in private should be tolerated but believes that it "should not be promoted or encouraged". The BNP opposed the introduction of civil partnerships in the United Kingdommarker and wishes to ban what it perceives as the promotion of homosexuality in schools and the media; and believes that homosexuality should be returned "to the closet".

The BNP supported Western Islesmarker registrars on their refusal to officiate civil partnerships for same-sex couples. Griffin wrote on the wedding of Elton John to his partner David Furnish that "not only would we not allow Elton John to marry his boyfriend but our proposals for a strengthened Clause 28 would prevent such a sick parody of real marriage being shown on TV in any case". BNP spokesman Phil Edwards stated that homosexuality "is unnatural" and "does not lead to procreation but does lead to moral turpitude and disease".

In the run-up to the 2005 general election, it was reported that Richard Barnbrook, the BNP candidate for Barking, had produced and directed a homoerotic student art film in 1989. The story was picked up by the mainstream press after the 2006 local elections, when Barnbrook became a councillor for Barking and Dagenhammarker. Although some portrayed this as gay pornography, Barnbrook and the BNP claimed that the film was artistic, and about "sexuality, not homosexuality".

The BNP was criticised over a list on their website titled "Liars, buggers and thieves" which grouped several gay politicians in with convicted murderers, rapists and paedophiles. The compiler of the list, BNP local councillor for Redbridgemarker, 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".

Mark Collett, former chairman of the Young BNP and current Director of Publicity, described homosexuals as "AIDS Monkeys", "bum bandits" and "faggots" and said the idea of homosexuality was a "sickening thought". Articles published in the Sunday Times and Daily Mail have alleged that Nick Griffin had a four year homosexual relationship with Martin Webster, although Griffin denies this.

On his appearance on BBC One's Question Time on 22 October 2009, he stated in reponse to being asked about the death of Boyzone member Stephen Gateley, "I said that 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, Christians feel that way, Muslims, all sorts of people."

Structure

The chairman of the BNP has final say in all policy matters. There are then fifteen further members of the 'party leadership', who have responsibility for various areas of its operations. These executive positions work alongside the Advisory Council, the party's senior policy body. This group 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". The Trafalgar Club is the party's fundraising arm.

The party is organised on a regional basis, with 12 regions, based upon the European Parliamentmarker constituencies within the UK, each with an organiser. The party also organises four groups that deal with specific areas of activity i.e. Land and People (which deals with rural affairs), Pensioners' Awareness Group, the Friends of European Nationalism (a New Zealandmarker-based organisation) and the Ethnic Liaison Committee, which co-ordinates work with non-whites. The BNP also has 16 specifically defined party officials, with the current holders of the major offices being as follows:

In addition Arthur Kemp is "head of the BNP's education and training department" and "editor of the BNP's website".

Electoral performance

National parliaments

The BNP has contested seats in Englandmarker, Walesmarker and Scotlandmarker. Since 2002 the party has expressed interest in contesting elections in Northern Irelandmarker and previously promised to stand candidates in the 2003 Assembly Election, and 2005 local council elections but in each case failed to put forward candidates. No BNP candidate has ever won a seat as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commonsmarker. It has been noted that the UK's first-past-the-post system causes electoral difficulties for smaller parties such as the BNP whose support is not geographically concentrated in specific constituencies.

In the 2005 General Election, the British National Party stood 119 candidates across England, Scotland and Wales. Between those candidates the BNP polled 192,850 votes, gaining an average of 4.2% across the several seats it stood in, and 0.7% nationwide—more than triple its percentage at the 2001 election. In those seats in which the BNP stood, it was the fourth largest party. However, it did not stand nationwide, meaning that its national share of the vote was substantially lower than that of other minor parties and exit poll predictions of 3%.

In the 2007 Scottish Parliamentmarker and Welsh Assembly elections the BNP fielded candidates. In the Welsh elections the party fielded 20 candidates, four in each of the five regional lists with party chairman Nick Griffin standing in the South Wales West region. It came fifth behind the major parties in some areas. It did best in north east Wales, polling 9% in Wrexham and 7% in both Alyn and Deeside and in Clwyd South. However, it did not win any seats in the Welsh assembly.

In the Scottish Parliament election the party fielded 32 candidates which entitled the BNP to public funding for its campaign and an election broadcast, prompting criticism from various groups. The BNP received about 1% of the vote and no seats.

In the 21st century, its electoral successes have generally come from winning former Labour voters and former Labour council seats.

General election performance

Year Number of Candidates Number of MPs Percentage of vote Total votes Change (percentage points) Average voters per candidate
1983 53 0 0.0 14,621 N/A 276
1987 2 0 0.0 553 0.0 277
1992 13 0 0.1 7,631 +0.1 587
1997 56 0 0.1 35,832 0.0 640
2001 33 0 0.2 47,129 +0.1 1428
2005 119 0 0.7 192,746 +0.5 1620


Local government

In 2008, the BBC estimated the BNP had about 56 councillors. The party holds a London-wide seat on the London Assembly.

As with other minority parties in the UK, the majority of the BNP's electoral success has come in local government elections. The BNP's first electoral success came in September 1993, when Derek Beackon was returned as councillor for Millwallmarker (in London) on a low turnout. He lost his seat in further elections the next year.

In the council elections of May 2002, three BNP candidates gained seats on Burnleymarker council. This was interpreted in some quarters as an indicator of the mood of the British electorate (the BNP had fielded 68 candidates nationwide). In the council elections of May 2003, the BNP increased its Burnley total by five seats, thus briefly becoming the second-largest party and official opposition on that council, a position it narrowly lost soon afterwards after the resignation of a BNP councillor who had been disciplined by the party after unruly behaviour at the party's annual 'Red, White and Blue' festival. The BNP lost the subsequent by-election to the Liberal Democrats.

During these 2003 elections, the BNP contested a record 221 seats nationwide (just under 4% of the total available). It won 11 council seats in all, though Nick Griffin was unsuccessful in his attempt to gain a place on Oldhammarker Metropolitan Council. In some areas, such as Sunderlandmarker, it contested all wards and failed to get a seat; in others areas such as Essex, parts of the Black Countrymarker in the West Midlands and in Hertfordshiremarker it gained council seats.

Prior to the 2004 elections to the European Parliament, the BNP had stated that it believed it could win "between one and three seats" in the 2004 European Parliamentarymarker elections. In fact, although its share of the vote increased to 4.9% (placing it as the sixth biggest party overall), it failed to win a single seat. The Party also hoped to pick up an increased share of the vote in the South West of England, where its strongly eurosceptic policies were believed to be most popular. However, in that region it gained only 3.0% of the vote. Given that parties with other lower total percentages of the vote, but a higher regional concentration of support, gained seats, its lack of a geographical stronghold can be seen as a disadvantage for the party.

The party's biggest election success to date was a gain of 52% of the vote in the Goresbrook ward of Barkingmarker on 16 September 2004. However, the turnout was just 29%, and the councillor Daniel Kelley retired just 10 months later, claiming he had been an outcast within the council. A new election was held on 23 June 2005, in which this time the Labour candidate gained 51% of the vote, and the BNP came second with 32%.

In the local elections on 4 May 2006, the BNP more than doubled its number of councillors, increasing the number to 49. The biggest gain was in Barking and Dagenhammarker where the BNP won initially 11 of the 13 seats it contested, gaining 17% of the vote. A twelfth seat was awarded to the BNP due to a mistake in counting the votes, following a High Court petition. The BNP also won three seats in Epping Forest, three in Stoke-on-Trentmarker, three in Sandwell, two seats in Burnleymarker, two in Kirkleesmarker, and single seats in Bradfordmarker, Haveringmarker, Solihullmarker, Redditch, Redbridgemarker, Pendlemarker and Leedsmarker. It was initially declared to have won the Birmingham seat of Kingstandingmarker but this was due to a counting error that was subsequently overturned in court.

On 10 August 2006 the BNP gained its first parish councillor in Wales when Mike Howard of Rhewl Mostyn, Flintshire, previously an Independent, joined the BNP. Hence as of 10 August 2006, the party had 53 councillors in local government.

2007 local elections

In the run-up to local elections in May 2007, the BNP predicted that it would again double its councillors, which would have taken the total to around 100. However, in the event it made only small gains and also suffered significant losses, so that the net increase was only one seat. From this peak of 47 councillors on local authorities, the number of BNP councillors fell slowly through the rest of 2007 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 had sunk to around 42.

In the UK local elections which took place on the same day as the Scottish and Welsh elections, the BNP fielded a record 754 council candidates, more than double the number the previous year. It won increased support in Windsor and Maidenhead but did not increase its number of councillors in Sandwell from 4 and saw its seats in Burnley reduced from seven to four. It won both Hugglescote and Whitwick—the first seats to be won by the BNP in Leicestershire. Before the poll, the BNP's declared aim was to double its number of elected councillors to around a hundred. In the event, it increased its net representation by just one councillor.

London Assembly and mayoral election, 2008

The Evening Standard reported at the beginning of April 2008 that Nick Eriksen, second on the candidates list for the London Assembly election and the party's chief London organiser, is the author of a far-right blog 'Sir John Bull'. On his blog, Eriksen says rape is a "myth" and claims women are like gongs as "they need to be struck regularly". Eriksen was removed as a BNP candidate because of these comments, but his position as a party official remains unclear.

BNP candidate Richard Barnbrook gained a seat in the London Assembly in May 2008, after gaining 5.3% of the vote in the mayoral election. Nationally, the BNP won over one hundred seats throughout the United Kingdom in the May 2008 local elections, which is less than 1% of the total number of seats available.

2009 European Elections

In light of the disclosure of expenses of British Members of Parliament and resultant voter apathy fallout, it was postured by the media and commentators that the BNP could do well in the polls, as voters sought an alternative party to register their protest. The BNP launched its advertising vehicle, which it called the "Truth Truck," around the themes of "British Jobs for British Workers" (a slogan that had previously been used by Prime Minister Gordon Brown but was originated by the BNP and quoting from BNP members as to why they had joined the party. In May 2009, The Sunday Mirror revealed that the photographs used were from stock collections, with the models having posed for a general photo agency shoot in Portland, Oregon; another shot on the truck quoting a doctor in the NHS is also an American stock photo; while the OAPs were the Italian parents of the British resident photographer. Distributed in leaflet form by the Royal Mail, Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price said: "These leaflets hideously misrepresent the views of the people photographed. I believe they have breached the guidelines set out for electoral communications and I call on the Royal Mail to stop distribution immediately." However this was defended by the BNP who said it was standard practise by political parties.

The Archibishops of Canterbury and York have said it would be tragic if people abstained or voted BNP at the local and European elections on 4 June. Their views are said to represent all of the Church's bishops.

When results were announced on 7 June, 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. Party chairman Nick Griffin was elected for the North West region, with 8% of the vote. 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".

In local elections held that same day, the BNP also won its first three county Councilor seats in Lancashiremarker, Leicestershiremarker, and Hertfordshiremarker.

See also: Elections in the United Kingdom


Alleged internal problems

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. In 2007 a leadership challenge to Griffin by Colin Auty and previously by Colin Jackson resulted in resignations and expulsions of their supporters and 67 senior activists including many councillors resigning the whip after Councillor Nina Brown claimed that BNP Security had misled her into giving them the key to the home of fellow BNP councillor Sadie Graham in order to ransack it, searching for evidence of her support for Auty's leadership bid.

In September 2007, Robin Evans, a BNP councillor in Blackburn, walked out of the party, then 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".

Another, BNP councillor, Maureen Stowe, 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".

Terry Farr, a councillor in Epping, resigned to spend more time developing his business after a suspension for writing abusive letters to Trevor Phillips.

In October 2007, James Lloyd, a BNP councillor, was disqualified from Sandwell Council for not attending a single meeting in a six month period. This was attributed to business difficulties following the closure of his pub.

Legal issues

Claims of repression of free speech

The BNP claims that the mainstream media in the UK do not mention BNP policies, or make reference to statements made by the BNP. The BNP argues that NUJ guidelines on reporting racist organizations forbid journalists who are NUJ members from reporting uncritically on the party.

The BNP has encountered difficulties finding a company prepared to print its monthly publication Voice of Freedom. The Party acquired a printing press in the run up to the 2005 general election, thereby removing its dependency on external printing houses. In September 2005, 60,000 copies of Voice of Freedom, which had been printed in Slovakiamarker, were seized by British police at Dover. The police later admitted this was a mistake and released the impounded literature shortly thereafter.

Party members sometimes conceal their affiliation, which can be deemed unacceptable by employers, unions and co-workers. Police officers are not allowed to be members of the BNP "or similar organisation[s] whoseConstitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements may contradict the duty to promote equality". The prison service likewise prohibits membership of the BNP and similar organisations, because it considers them racist. A similar policy has been discussed in the Fire Brigades and Civil Service, but neither has implemented such a proscription. On 24 April 2007 an election broadcast (which was scheduled to air at 9:55 PM) was pulled by BBC Radio Wales' lawyers, who believed that the broadcast was defamatory of the Chief Constable of North Wales Police, Richard Brunstrom. The broadcast was made available to download from the BNP's website.

Employment discrimination and other related controversies

BNP members have alleged discrimination in employment.

In the case of ASLEF v. United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rightsmarker overturned an employment appeal tribunal ruling that awarded a BNP train driver damages for expulsion. It found that the union the train driver belonged to 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. Through publications such as British Nationalist, the BNP has encouraged supportive trade unionists to be open about BNP membership. However, the only other case sparking controversy has been that of Clive Potter, later a former official of Solidarity – The Union for British Workers. Potter was expelled from the union, and when he took his case to the courts, the courts upheld the expulsion and the grounds were based on previous exclusion rather than BNP membership.

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 main argument was 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, 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." However, this has yet to be tested and there is a clause in the regulations which provide that the beliefs of employees may be required to be in line with the "ethos" of the organisation. Yet still this is a contested area as the case of a climate change activist has indicated.

Mr. Arthur Redfearn was a bus driver whose BNP membership was unknown to his employer, Serco, until he was elected as a councillor. He was dismissed as the employers were concerned that he might endanger their contract with a local authority to transport vulnerable people of various ethnicities from a day centre. The decision by the Employment Tribunal summarises: "where an employee who is a member of a racist group (in this case the BNP political party) is dismissed because of the danger that his continuing employment might lead to violence in the workplace, the dismissal can properly be regarded as being for legitimate health and safety reasons and will not be unlawful race discrimination."It had been argued at the Employment Tribunal that Redfearn had been racially discriminated against over his BNP membership because the BNP is a whites-only organisation, and was treated unfairly in comparison to racist organisations that were non-white.

In 2002, a BNP candidate and Regional Organiser, Kevin Scott, was dismissed from the B&Q hardware store in Gatesheadmarker. 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 due to the numbers 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.

Organisations which ban BNP membership

Police
Membership of the BNP, Combat 18 and the National Front in the police forces was specifically prohibited by David Blunkett following an undercover TV exposure of racism in a police training centre. Despite this, Simon Darby has claimed that the BNP still has members who remain covert. Police authorities have taken this very seriously and Manchester Police Authority have 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".A retired police officer, standing as a European Assembly candidate, Inspector Phazey, has said that he was a member in defiance of the prohibition and that other serving officers remained members. He denied that he was a racist or that the police were institutionally racist, saying;

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.

After a recent leak of alleged BNP membership lists to the Internet, a number of police forces are investigating officers whose names appeared on the list.

In March 2009, PC Steve Bettley, of Merseyside Police a policeman whose name was allegedly on the leaked list was dismissed, despite the Police misconduct panel reporting "the panel confirmed there was no evidence that PC Bettley had ever displayed any racist views or discriminatory behaviour in the workplace."

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.

Other professions
As of 2009 only the police and the prison services have an official stated policy that they will sack officers for membership of the BNP. A ban on BNP membership in the civil service was considered in 2004 and also considered in the probation service in 2005. 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. 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.. He has been summoned to a hearing of the General Teaching Council, which could result in him being banned from working as a teacher in England. His brother, Mark Walker, was suspended from another college for allegedly accessing adult pornography using school equipment, and he was eventually sacked on the basis of his sickness record. His supporters told the press that he had been suspended for accessing the BNP website and had been victimised because of his political beliefs. A report by the NSPCC found that "a substantial amount of emails indicating a sexual relationship between himself and a 17-year-old former Sunnydale student have been recovered from Mr Walker’s school laptop and the school server."

The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has refused 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.Liam Birch, a sociology student standing as a BNP council candidate for Southway was dismissed as assistant warden at Plymouth University, when his BNP membership was known via an internet blog concerning the Holocaust, in which he declared "The Jews declared war on Germany, not the other way round".

Simone Clarke was a principal ballerina at the English National Ballet and a deputy for the entertainer's union Equity. Clarke's membership of the BNP was unknown until exposed by an undercover Guardian journalist in 2006. Her performances were picketed by anti-fascists demanding her sacking. However the ENB refused to do so, as she had done nothing else to warrant this. She was supported by Equity.

In February 2009 the General Synod of the Church of England voted to ban its clergy from joining the BNP.As of 2009 only the police and the prison services have the power to sack officers for membership of the BNP.

Association with violence

Historically the BNP has been associated in the public mind with violent protest and clashes with anti-BNP organisations. Critics of the BNP assert that a minority of elected BNP politicians have criminal records and that the party is more tolerant of the criminal actions of some of its members than other parties would be.

In the past, Nick Griffin has defended the threat of violence in furthering the party's aims. After the BNP won its first council seat in 1993, he wrote: "The electors of Millwall did not back a postmodernist rightist party, but what they perceived to be 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, believing he was addressing members of the French Front National, he said: "It is more important to control the streets of a city than its council chambers." In January 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."

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.

A BBC Panorama programme reported on a number of BNP members who have had criminal convictions, some racially motivated. The BBC's list is extensive. Some of the more notable convictions include:
  • 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.
  • Kevin Scott, the BNP's North East regional organiser, has two convictions for assault and using threatening words and behaviour.
  • Joe Owens, now expelled but previously a BNP candidate in Merseyside and former bodyguard to Nick Griffin, has served eight months in prison for sending razor blades in the post to Jewish people and another term for carrying CS gas and knuckledusters.
  • Tony Wentworth, former BNP student organiser, was convicted alongside Mr Owens for assaulting demonstrators at an anti-BNP event in 2003.
  • Colin Smith, BNP South East London organiser has 17 convictions for burglary, theft, stealing cars, possession of drugs and assaulting a police officer.
  • Richard Edmonds (at the time BNP National Organiser, currently a member of the BNP's Advisory Council) was sentenced to 3 months in prison in 1994 for violent disorder for his part in a racist attack on a Black man in Bethnal Green, London (although he was released after sentencing as he has already served this period on remand). Edmonds hurled a glass at the man as he was walking past the Ship pub in Bethnal Green Road, East London (where a group of BNP supporters were 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 of Purfleet, Essex who was jailed for 12 months. Another BNP supporter, Simon Biggs from Penge (who smashed a beer glass into the man's face causing deep wounds), was jailed for four and a half years for his part in the attack.


Tony Lecomber cases

Tony Lecomber was jailed for possessing explosives in 1985, after a nail bomb exploded while he was carrying it to the offices of the Workers' Revolutionary Party; and again for three years in 1991, for assaulting a Jewish teacher.He was Propaganda Director of the BNP at the time of the latter conviction.

Robert Cottage case

In October 2006, Robert Cottage, a ex BNP member who had been a candidate for the party earlier in the year for election to represent Colnemarker on Pendle Councilmarker, "was arrested under the Explosives Act on suspicion of possessing chemicals that may be capable of making an explosion." The 22 chemical components recovered by police are believed to be the largest haul ever found at a house in Britain. An associate of Cottage, David Bolus Jackson, whom he had met at a BNP meeting was also arrested at this time.

The case came before Manchester Crown Court on 12 February 2007 where it was claimed by the prosecution that Cottage had plans to assassinate Tony Blair and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Greaves. Cottage pleaded guilty to one count of the possession of explosives, but denied the count pertaining to conspiracy to cause an explosion. Jackson pleaded not guilty. In a statement read in court by the prosecution counsel, Cottage's wife said that he believed that "civil war" was imminent in the UK.

The jury in the trial was unable to reach verdicts and the case was set for retrial in July 2007, when, once again, the jury failed to reach a verdict. The prosecution indicated that it would not seek a further retrial. On 31 July 2007, Cottage was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment for the charge he had admitted of possessing explosives.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality and Human Rights Commission sent a letter, preceding legal action, on 22 June to the BNP setting out its concerns about the BNP's constitution and membership criteria. The BNP disagreed and chose to fight this opinion in the High Courtmarker. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission alleged that the BNP's constitution restricting membership to particular 'ethnic groups' and those whose skin colour is "white" and the publication of these rules on the BNP website was unlawful under the Race Relations Act.

The Commission issued county court proceedings on 24 August 2009 against party leader Nick Griffin and two other officials in respect of its constitution and membership criteria. The court set a date of Wednesday 2 September for a hearing for the Commission's application for an injunction against the BNP. The proceedings on 2 September 2009 were adjourned until 15 October 2009 as the BNP changed its solicitors shortly before the case. Robin Allen QC for the plaintiff asked for an interim injunction. Justice Paul Collins rejected this stating that although the BNP had been in existence for 27 years, he saw "No evidence of a long queue of black people wanting to join the BNP".

The conclusion of the case on 15 October 2009 saw costs awarded against the BNP. The BNP stated that Griffin was "required in Brussels" on that day. Griffin has written to BNP members preparing to concede the case, stating that it will cost £80,000 to proceed or potentially £1m if the case goes to the House of Lords, they also were quoted as saying that "that to continue fighting the commission would bleed the party dry", "and would strip the party of the ability to fight the next general election". Griffin subsequently announced that he would ask BNP members to accept the court's decision and allow non-whites to join the partyclaiming this this action "outflanked" the EHRC. The BNP anticipate that their members will accept the change on financial grounds.

The BNP agreed before Judge Collins to suspend further membership applications until an Extraordinary General Meeting in January 2010 confirming the changes to the constitution to comply with legal requirements. The case has been further adjourned until 28 January 2010 in order to ensure compliance. 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.'

Opposition

The BNP is condemned by many sections of the mainstream media, including right-wing newspapers, such as the Daily Mail and representatives of the three major mainstream political parties all condemn the BNP. 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, including Labour former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. In 2008 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". Conservative Party leader David Cameron, Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg, and former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell have all condemned the BNP.

In response to the election of two BNP MEPs the British government announced that it is to single out the British National party's two newly elected representatives in the European parliament for special treatment. This will mean that the BNP will be denied some of the access and information afforded to all the other 70 UK 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 British diplomats made plain that they 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.

Following pressure from Trevor Phillips, Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, the major parties stand candidates in seats that they are unlikely to win. This is designed to enhance the choice available to voters in the expectation that this will reduce the BNP vote.

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 the broadest possible spectrum to oppose the BNP and the far-right, includes the Anti-Nazi League (ANL), the National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR), and the Student Assembly Against Racism (SAAR). Searchlight has monitored the activities of the BNP and its members for many years.

Some opponents of fascism call for no positive coverage to be given to groups or individuals enunciating what they describe as "hate speech". Such a tactic states that the BNP and similar parties should be ignored by both rival politicians and the media. A more militant position is that of "No Platform", which seeks to deny perceived fascist hate speech any sort of platform. The policy is most commonly associated with university student unions and debating societies, but has also resulted in BNP candidates being banned from speaking at various hustings meetings around the country.

Examples of the "no platform" policy being operated include:
  • Complaints directed at the Leeds Student newspaper after it published a full-page article/interview with Nick Griffin. The Leeds Unite Against Fascism (LUAF) group accused the publication of breaching Leeds University Students' Union 'No Platform' policy, whereby extremist organisations are prohibited from expressing their views on campus.
  • An invitation to Nick Griffin by the University of St Andrewsmarker Union Debating Society to participate in a debate on multiculturalism was condemned, then withdrawn after protests.


Examples of more direct action against the BNP include obstruction of BNP activists who set up stalls in shopping centres. For example, members of the Scottish Socialist Party in Edinburghmarker surrounded a BNP publicity stall, forcing it to close. Anti-Fascist Action is the group most associated with this sort of direct action, criticised by more liberal anti-fascists (for example in the Anti-Nazi League) as squadism.

The BNP claims that such cases exemplify how political correctness is being used to silence it and suppress its right to freedom of speech.

The Anti-Nazi League-organised group, Love Music Hate Racism, held a free concert in Trafalgar Squaremarker ahead of the 2006 local elections, aimed at getting people not to vote for the BNP, which claimed 50,000 people attended, according to the organiser, while the The Daily Telegraph put the number substantially lower at just 3,000.

In May 2007 a presentation by Nick Griffin was organised by Danny Lake, Young BNP organiser and a politics student, to be held at the University of Bathmarker. The University administration agreed to hosting the meeting on the grounds of freedom of speech, yet it was opposed by a sizable portion of the student and lecturer population. At a meeting of the Student Union a motion was passed to criticise the BNP and oppose the meeting, mainly due to the BNP's opposition to the Union's equal opportunities policy, the fact that the meeting was an invitation only event with no opposition debate and that it was to be held on the first day of the exam period. The University later withdrew permission for the event due to concerns over the large number of people opposing the meeting and possible disruption it could cause.

Veterans and WW2

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 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." 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 of which half was given to the Legion and the other half was given 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.

Winston Churchill's family have 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".

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 Dovermarker CD on its website to fund its European election campaign.

Online presence

In September 2007 The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Hitwise, the online competitive intelligence service, said that the "website run by the far right British National Party is the most visited website of any UK political party, with more hits than all other parties put together, a survey has found." In 2009, the party's website came under fire, after it was revealed that a large amount of the merchandise sold on their online store was made in Hondurasmarker, which seemed to run contrary to the party's pledge of "British Jobs for British Workers".

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.
  • 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.
  • 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. The firm ceased to operate in November 2006.
  • The BNP obtains funding from the sale of books and heraldic or Norse jewellery. These are usually sold through its Excalibur brand.


Political parties

The BNP and the French Front National have co-operated on numerous occasions. Jean-Marie Le Pen visited the UK in 2004 to assist 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. The BNP has links with Germany's National Democratic Party (NPD). Griffin addressed an NPD rally in August 2002, headed by Udo Voigt, who Gerhard Schroeder accused of trying to remove immigrants from eastern Germany. According to Stop the BNP, NPD activists have attended BNP events in the UK. In the run-up to the 2004 European Parliament election campaign, Nick Griffin visited Swedenmarker to give the National Democrat Party his endorsement. Members of the Swedish National Democrats were present at the BNP's Red White and Blue rally, which took place over the weekend of 20-21 August 2005.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 also spoke at a Jobbik party rally in August 2008. 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. Mr Darby has stated that the BNP would look to form an alliance with France's Front National in the European Parliament.

Alleged front organisations

  • Solidarity – The Union for British Workers. Solidarity's president, Patrick Harrington, and the BNP both deny that Solidarity is a BNP front organization.
  • Civil Liberty
  • The Christian Council of Britain was set up by BNP members and supporters to organise Christians "in defence of traditional Christian values". The United Reform church has said that "Any form of support for organisations such as the BNP is incompatible with Christian discipleship." Robert West, the council's liaison officer, denies it is a BNP front.
  • Opponents of the BNP claim that the English Defence League is a front for BNP-backed activity, although the BNP denies any link and says that the EDL is "proscribed" to its members. It has been reported that the EDL website was set up by Chris Renton, a BNP activist. In a radio interview in July 2009, EDL spokesperson Paul Ray confirmed this.


Relations with neo-Nazi, terrorist and paramilitary groups

While Griffin was still a leading figure in the National Front, he was a close associate of Roberto Fiore, an Italian who, having fled to Londonmarker, was convicted in absentia of belonging to the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, a terrorist group that was alleged to have carried out the Bologna massacremarker on 2 August 1980, which killed 85 people and injured 200 others in a railway station.

The group Combat 18 (C18), was formed in 1992 (although not originally under this name), to act as stewards for BNP rallies, which were often attacked by groups such as Anti-Fascist Action. C18's first publicly-acknowledged terror action was an incendiary attack on a Communist Party premises in March 1992. The BNP did not repudiate the attack until nearly two years later, when John Tyndall did so in an Organisers Bulletin on 14 December 1993. In his bulletin, Tyndall acknowledged that C18 had set itself up as "the disciplinary enforcement apparatus of the BNP", and claimed that C18 had been infiltrated by state informers. In 2002, Adrian Marsden was elected as a councillor for the BNP, having previously had his house raided by the Special Branch in raids on Combat 18 supporters in 1999.

When Tyndall was still chairman, the BNP's 1995 national rally was addressed by William Luther Pierce, the then-head of the US National Alliance. Pierce wrote the novel The Turner Diaries, an inspiration for Timothy McVeigh to carry out the Oklahoma City bombingmarker which killed 168 people.

Redwatch, a website that publicises the names and addresses of left-wing and anti-fascist activists—and which has led to death threats, harassment and a knife attack —was set up by ex-BNP member Simon Sheppard in 2001, who had been expelled from the BNP for his violent threats. The BNP has warned its members not to use the website. The BNP has denied any links with Redwatch. BNP spokesman Phil Edwards said: "The BNP has absolutely nothing to do with this. What is this Redwatch site? I don't think I've even heard of it." Another Spokeman for the party said: "We are not involved, we have absolutely nothing to do with Redwatch at all." He added that, as far as he knew, no individual members had taken pictures that had subsequently appeared on the site. "If they are doing so, they should not be doing so." Nick Grffin has accused them of being "run by people hostile to the BNP".

David Copeland, who exploded nail bombs in the diverse communities of Brick Lanemarker in the East End and Brixtonmarker and at the Admiral Duncan pubmarker in the heart of Londonmarker's homosexual community in Soho, was a former BNP member. Although the BNP distanced itself from Copeland, Griffin wrote in the aftermath of the bombing that homosexuals protesting against the murders were "The footage of dozens of 'gay' demonstrators flaunting their perversion in front of the world's journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive".

The BNP has been accused of attempting to infiltrate the Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Irelandmarker.

References

Footnotes

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Bibliography

  • Nigel Copsey: Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and its Quest for Legitimacy: Houndmills/New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 2004: ISBN 1403902143
  • Nigel Copsey and Andrew Renton (eds) British fascism, the Labour Movement and the State: Houndsmills: New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 2005: ISBN 1403939160
  • Andrew Sykes: The Radical Right in Britain: From Social Imperialism to the British National Party: Houndsmills: New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 2005: ISBN 0333599241


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