The British National Party (BNP) is a far-right and whites only political party in the United Kingdom. The BBC estimates the party has about 58 elected councilors in local government in England including parish councilors; the party claims to have 100 councilors. The party holds a London-wide seat on the London Assembly, but is not represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In the 2005 UK general election, the BNP received 0.7% of the popular vote, giving it the eighth largest share of the vote (however it only contested English seats, and came 5th in these). In the 2007 Welsh Assembly Election, it came fifth in terms of votes for the regional lists with 4.3% of the vote, winning no seats, also finishing fifth in the 2008 London mayoral election with 5.23% of the popular vote, as well as electing Mayoral candidate Richard Barnbrook to the Greater London Assembly.
According to its constitution, the BNP is "committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948." The BNP also proposes "firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home."
It advocates the repeal of all anti-discrimination legislation, and restricts party membership to "indigenous British ethnic groups deriving from the class of ‘Indigenous Caucasian’". The BNP also accepts white immigrants that are assimilated into one of those ethnicities.
The BNP asserts that there are biological racial differences that determine the behaviour and character of individuals of different races, although it does not regard whites as superior to other ethnic groups. The party claims that preference for one's own ethnicity is a part of human nature. Its publicity has often conflated Islam with Marxism, due to both systems aiming to put all the world's people under a common system, and has suggested that mainstream politicians with Marxist pasts are partially responsible for this.
Historically, under John Tyndall's leadership, the BNP was overtly anti-Semitic; however, under the current leadership of Nick Griffin, the BNP has focused on criticism of Islam. The party has said that it does not consider the Jewish, Hindu or Sikh religions to have a significantly detrimental or threatening effect, although it does not accept practising Sikhs, Jews and Hindus as culturally or ethnically British. The party does however have members with Jewish ancestry. The BNP has been known to work with extremist Hindu and Sikh groups opposing Islam, and has actively tried to win Jewish votes, although the BNP rejects a foreign policy that would support Israel.
The BNP is rebuked and ostracized by mainstream politicians, and the party has been strongly criticised by Conservative Party leader David Cameron, former Liberal Democrats leader Sir Menzies Campbell, former Labour Party Prime Minister Tony Blair, and current Labour Party Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
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 riot were shown as Tyndall's speech attempted to encourage nationalism over racism. 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.
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. However, unbeknown to the BNP, Ray Hill was actually working for the group Searchlight, and observers have suggested that the party's relatively low profile in its early years may have been related to his sabotage.
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 a thousand people took part in a 'Rights for Whites' demonstration after some white parents in Dewsbury had been trying to withdraw their children from racially-mixed schools.
A second by-election in Millwall in September 1993 saw a renewed BNP campaign to take the seat. The party obtained its first councillor, Derek Beackon, by a majority of seven votes. Although Beackon was able to achieve little on the council before the full council elections (in which he lost his seat, after a successful anti-fascist campaign), the by-election win led to a great increase in publicity for the party.
The party headquarters site became a venue for anti-fascist protesters who linked its presence to racial crimes 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. 31 people were arrested and 19 police officers were injured.
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 Nick Griffin's approval, on the condition that Collett changed 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 intensely racist songs were sung and jokes made about Auschwitz.
The BNP claims that it has now "cast off the leg-iron ... of anti-semitism" and states that the party has Jewish members, and one of its councillors, Pat Richardson (Epping Forest), is herself Jewish. Nick Griffin has also clarified his position on the Holocaust: "several of the leftists try to sidetrack the debate down the Holocaust road although that does at least allow me to set the record straight and deal with the combination of Wikipedia lies and out-of-context propaganda and to put on record the fact that – while I used to be very angry at (and rude about) the way the left-liberals use the Holocaust as a moral club to silence debate on the key issues of our time – I have never denied the fact that the Nazis murdered huge numbers of Jews in one of the great crimes of a century of terrible inhumanity." However, Nick Griffin has never rescinded his view that the gas chambers are a fabrication.
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 3 seats in Burnley and averaged 20% of the votes where it positioned councillors. The party was accused, however, of exploiting the high tensions in areas that had recently undergone racially-motivated riots.
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.
. . .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.
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. John 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.
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 bearing murderous anti-British slogans and a "Which one do YOU find offensive?" caption.
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 England 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 London.
A government minister in the Department for Work and Pensions, Margaret Hodge, also highlighted the increase in support by saying that eight out of ten white working class people in her London constituency of Barking were "tempted" to vote for the BNP. 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 7% in the wake of media attention, a more than tenfold increase over the previous general election.
A YouGov poll in April 2006 found that the majority of Britons agreed with many BNP policies, when unaware they were associated with the BNP. 59% 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%. 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 2006 local 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 Dagenham became, according to many newspapers, the first council in the United Kingdom to have the BNP as the second-biggest party.
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 aftermath of The Guardian’s report, campaign group Unite Against Fascism called for the 'BNP ballerina' Simone Clarke to be sacked 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 defends her personal political opinion, stating that "the BNP is the only party to take a stand [against immigration]".
The BNP was being 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 States.
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 sacked 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 rebels 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. However, in January 2008, in an apparent change of tactics, they launched a new website called 'Voice of Change' 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."
The BNP proposes to reintroduce corporal punishment. Capital punishment will be 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. The BNP proposes "to end the conflict in Ireland 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 and environmental policies. The party also supports Greenpeace in its fight against Japanese whaling ships and the RSPCA's campaign against the docking of dogs' tails.
The BNP publicly disavows any interest in white supremacy. Its detractors argue that its definition of white supremacy as the "wish to rule over foreign peoples" is too narrow. 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 naturalized British citizens. Instead, Griffin has stated that "non-Europeans who stay", while protected by British law, "will be regarded as permanent guests".
The BNP is opposed to mixed-race relationships on the stated ground that racial differences must be preserved; it claims that when a white person produces a mixed-race child, "a white family line that stretches back into deep pre-history is destroyed." 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 Bradford. The selection was reported to have caused some dissent within parts of the BNP, however, it was defended by the BNP leadership who said "ordinary members can rest assured that Sharif Gawad is not a racial alien. Sharif, despite his name, is white and British and the British National Party is staying true to its core principles". "Mr Gawad fulfilled the BNP criteria of being "a member of the white European race of people", they affirmed.
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". Griffin's use of the phrase "secure a future for white children" is similar to the white nationalist "Fourteen Words".
The BNP supported Leeds University 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".
Consequently, the party has shifted allegiance in conflicts involving Israel. Its head of legal affairs, Lee Barnes, wrote on the party's website about the 2006 Lebanon War: "As a Nationalist I can say that I support Israel 100% in their dispute with Hezbollah. In fact, I hope they wipe Hezbollah off the Lebanese map and bomb them until they leave large greasy craters in the cities where their Islamic extremist cantons of terror once stood.
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:
"We bang on about Islam. Why? Because to the ordinary public out there it's the thing they can understand. It's the thing the newspaper editors sell newspapers with. If we were to attack some other ethnic group — some people say we should attack the Jews ... But ... we've got to get to power. And if that was an issue we chose to bang on about when the press don't talk about it ... the public would just think we were barking mad. They'd just think oh, you're attacking Jews just because you want to attack Jews. You're attacking this group of powerful Zionists just because you want to take poor Manny Cohen the tailor and shove him in a gas chamber. That's what the public would think. It wouldn't get us anywhere other than stepping backwards. It would lock us in a little box; the public would think "extremist crank lunatics, nothing to do with me." And we wouldn't get power."Suggested policies to help police this "threat to all of us" include a Muslim no fly policy. This would dictate that Muslims would be banned from flying in and out of the UK. The BNP conducted a demonstration outside the offices of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to highlight what it regarded as biased coverage of the case of Gavin Hopley, a 19-year-old white who was mugged and kicked to death by Asian Muslims in the street in Glodwick, Oldham, Greater Manchester, in February 2002. The police and the NUJ have rejected the BNP's criticism.
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 and the BNP's London leader. Although some portrayed this as gay pornography, Barnbrook and the BNP claimed that the film was artistic, and about "sexuality, not homosexuality".
Mark Collett, former chairman of the Young BNP, described homosexuals as "AIDS Monkeys", "bum bandits" and "faggots" and said the idea of homosexuality was a "sickening thought". There have been allegations that Nick Griffin has been involved in homosexual relationships with other BNP members, although he vehemently denies it.
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 treble 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 21st century, its electoral successes have generally come from winning former Labour voters and former Labour council seats.
|Year||Number of Candidates||Number of MPs||Percentage of vote||Total votes||Change (percentage points)||Average voters per candidate|
In the council elections of May 2002, three BNP candidates gained seats on Burnley 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 Oldham Metropolitan Council. In some areas, such as Sunderland, it contested all wards and failed to get a seat; in others areas such as Essex, parts of the Black Country in the West Midlands and in Hertfordshire 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 Parliamentary 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 Barking 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 from 20 to 52. The biggest gain was in Barking and Dagenham where the BNP won 11 of the 13 seats it contested. A twelfth seat was awarded to the BNP, following a High Court petition. The BNP also won 3 seats in Epping Forest, 3 in Stoke-on-Trent, 3 in Sandwell, 2 seats in Burnley, 2 in Kirklees, and single seats in Bradford, Havering, Solihull, Redditch, Redbridge, Pendle and Leeds. It was initially declared to have won the Birmingham seat of Kingstanding 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.
In the 2007 Scottish Parliament 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 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.
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.
The BNP has up to 55 councillors though some have resigned or been expelled from the party. BNP councillors have particular disadvantages which many other councillors do not have. Instances of various misdemeanours are closely watched by opponents and widely advertised- although all councillors will face scrutiny from opposing parties locally. When the first BNP councillor, Derek Beackon was elected in the Isle of Dogs, local council staff staged a mass walkout. Beackon found himself isolated from officers and councillors, most of whom refused to speak to him at all, making it especially difficult to understand the workings of the council and impaired his effectiveness. Others have had similar experiences, which has often resulted in exceptionally poor attendance records and disillusionment. Some have been obstructed by official actions against them and been prevented from fulfilling their duties by suspension or by bail conditions.
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.
Smith's uncle Simon Smith was himself suspended for the racial content of his website, before leaving the BNP in 2007 after qurying the accounts of the BNP Smith said of Luke Smith, who was awaiting sentencing at the time, for assault.“He was a lovely, lovely lad who, like a lot of people, was just too sensitive to exist in what is effectively an extremely cruel world."
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," she says.
Terry Farr, a councillor in Epping, resigned to spend more time developing his business after a suspension for writing abusive letters to Trevor Phillips
James Lloyd, a BNP councillor in Sandwell was suspended for not attending enough council meetings. This was attributed this to business difficulties following the closure of his pub.
As the BNP has yet to gain power in any locality, it has not yet had the opportunity to show its policies in action. However any policy explicitly based on treating ethnic minorities less favourably would have to comply with national legislation designed to prevent such policies, which would constrain the freedom of action of such a council such as article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Race Relations Acts 1968 and 1976.
The party is organised on a regional basis, with 12 regions, based upon the European Parliament 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 Zealand-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:
Owing to campaigning by anti-fascist groups, 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 Slovakia, 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] whose Constitution, 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. On 24 April 2007 an election broadcast (which was scheduled to air at 9:55PM) 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.
Trades Unions have not provided assistance in employment grievances to BNP members, many have expelled them from the unions, and in several cases actually lobbied for BNP members to be dismissed. In the case of ASLEF v. United Kingdom the European Court of Human Rights overturned an employment appeal tribunal finding, awarding a BNP train driver damages for expulsion. It found that the union were entitled to do so, and that this was not a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In the case of Baggs v. Fudge (2005)UKET, Robert Baggs, represented by the BNP legal officer, Lee Barnes, claimed that he had been discriminated against on the grounds of "religion, or similar philosophical belief" (contrary to the Employment (Religious Discrimination) Regulations 2003, when applying for a job at a G.P. surgery. 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. However, under the new law, a strong argument could be made to the contrary. However, this has not been 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.
Mr. Arthur Redfearn was a bus driver whose BNP membership was unknown to his employers, Serco, until he was elected as a councillor. He was sacked 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 in Redfearn v.Serco (2006 CA) is summarised thus; "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." Redfearn had been represented by the BNP legal officer, Lee Barnes, who had 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 who were non-white.
"Of course you heard words like Paki and nigger, but it didn't mean much more than someone saying Paddy for an Irishman or Jerry for a German. It was just the language of working-class blokes. There was a fair bit of leg-pulling but it was never malicious. I remember there was one officer who, whenever an Asian officer came into the room, would go, 'Coon, coon,' like he was making the noise of a pigeon. But it was a joke. It's like saying Paddies are as thick as two short planks or Jocks are tight-fisted. It was just jokes in the canteen. You'll get that anywhere when you have men in their 20s and 30s together." A Police Community Support Officer, Ellis Hammond, was found to be a BNP member after he was discovered stockpiling weapons at his home, including tazers,
Liam Birch, a sociology student standing as a BNP council candidate for Southway was sacked 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 is a principal ballerina at the English National Ballet and a deputy for the entertainer's union Equity. Her membership of the BNP was unknown until exposed by an undercover Guardian journalist in 2006. Her performances were picketted 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 her union Equity.
The terrorist 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 Pierce, the then-head of the US National Alliance. Pierce wrote the novel The Turner Diaries, allegedly an inspiration for Timothy McVeigh to carry out the Oklahoma city bombing which killed 168 people. The American Friends of the BNP, a party offshoot headed by Mark Cotterill, was still having extensive contacts with the National Alliance as recently as 2003; as documented at length by Nick Ryan in his book Homeland: Into A World of Hate.
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. The BNP has warned its members not to use the website.
David Copeland, who exploded nail bombs in the diverse communities of Brick Lane in the East End and Brixton and at the Admiral Duncan pub in the heart of London'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 "flaunting their perversion in front of the world's journalists, [and] showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures disgusting".
Griffin has urged white nationalists to join the BNP and use the ballot box instead of violence to achieve political aims. The openly neo-Nazi British Peoples Party, Blood and Honour, and the November 9th Society actively oppose the BNP, which they consider too moderate.
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 unstaisfactory past records.
The case came before Manchester Crown Court on February 12, 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.
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.
In the run up to the May 2006 local council elections, Labour employment minister Margaret Hodge claimed that 8 out of 10 voters in her constituency were thinking of voting for the BNP. When the BNP subsequently took 12 seats out of 13 contested in her Barking constituency, local Labour activists responded by blaming Hodge, crediting her with generating hundreds of extra votes for the BNP.
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). It also includes faith and community leaders and politicians from the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, RESPECT, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the Socialist Workers Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party. Searchlight magazine has monitored the activities of the BNP and its members for many years, and has published many articles highly critical of them.
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:
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 Edinburgh blockaded and forced a BNP publicity stall 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 concert in Trafalgar Square ahead of the 2006 local elections, aimed at getting people not to vote for the BNP, with 50,000 people attending according to the organiser while 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 Bath. 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 Unions 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.