The previous articles by Iliacus regarding the BNP accounts are below:
The Accounts (1): First Impressions
The Accounts (2): "We wuz robbed"
The Accounts (3): Figure Skating
The Accounts (4): "and for my next trick"
I have recently been reading, as one does, a history of the Neath and Brecon Railway. This was a fairly insignificant railway company in South Wales, operating - oddly enough - between Neath and Brecon! It may not immediately seem of any relevance to the cause of anti-fascism except that its financial affairs (to which I might return in a future article) echoed those of a certain far-right political party of the present day.
In particular I was taken by the following comments by the authors, written in 2005 in respect of accounts published in the 1860s:
"The balance sheet for year end 1866...is tantalising in what it leaves unsaid and without further figures...it is only part of the picture. This statement falls short of the standards of reporting required today and its odd assortment of balances have the slender merit of providing cosmetic comfort to the casual observer."
What a splendid turn of phrase - and so appropriate to the subject of this series of articles, the 2007 BNP Accounts!
In this final article I want to concentrate on two areas - the sales of party publications (Identity and Voice of Freedom) and the Trafalgar Club. I will start with the publications, and a quick review of what they comprise. Voice of Freedom is a monthly tabloid; the front page normally carries an emotive lead story related to the evils of immigration while the other three pages are full of accounts of local meetings raising unprecedented levels of donations, adoration of the leader, and plenty of opportunities for readers to send money to the BNP for various items of tat! Identity is the party's exploration of the theoretical principles of nationalism (i.e. it's full of middle-aged white men ranting about the evils of the modern world!)
My comments are based on an interpretation of the way these items are dealt with financially. I have to make reasonable assumptions, which may be rash in the context of BNP accounting. Those assumptions are as follows:
- that intitial printing costs are met by the party nationally;
- that sales are then made either directly or via branches, and the latter therefore appear in the accounts of the RAU (Regional Accounting Unit);
- that expenditure by the RAU (in buying copies) is balanced in the income column of the National Accounts (as supplier).
So, let's look at the performance in selling this stuff in 2007, and a comparison with 2006, starting with Identity. In 2006 printing cost £30,000 - by 2007 it was £34,000; allowing for inflation this implies a small increase in print runs. Income in '06 was nearly £45,000 (a surplus of around £15,000 but see below); in '07 income nationally fell to £32,000 (a deficit of £2,000). A bad enough trend, but there's worse to come [worse for the BNP I emphasise; I think it's great!]. In 2006 the RAU (i.e. the branches) spent nearly £17,000 buying Identity - and raised £11,000 by selling them, wiping out a fair chunk of the National Accounts surplus. In 2007 the RAU spent over £22,000 on copies of Identity - and raised just £8,000 from selling them!
So in 2006 the branches "lost" £5,500 selling Identity - and in 2007 they "lost" over £14,000 doing so. In 2006 just over a third of copies were unloaded by the national party onto the branches - by 2007 that proportion had nearly doubled!
Let's have a look at Voice of Freedom (VoF). In 2006 the party spent £37,000 printing copies - this fell in 2007 to just over £32,000. Perhaps Mr Collett negotiated a special deal, but to this cynical observer it suggests a fall in the print run. Certainly the fall in national sales, from £66,000 to £57,000 suggests that copies weren't flying off the metaphorical shelves! And when we get to branch level, the trend identified with Identity is repeated, and then some!
In 2006 the branches were billed for just over half of all VoF sales (£34,000 - 52% of the total). By 2007 the branches were being billed for over £52,000 of sales - an extraordinary 91% of the total! And this wasn't because they were finding it any easier to sell the damned things! Sales at RAU level fell from £26,000 in '06 to under £20,000 in '07.
So overall, in 2006 the party as a whole made a surplus of £9,217 from Identity and £20,580 from VoF. In 2007 Identity lost £16,186 and even VoF recorded a deficit of £7,641. At branch (or RAU) level both made a loss in both years, a sign of the local membership subsidising the party centrally. But the scale of that subsidy has rocketed.
In 2006 the RAU lost £5,500 on Identity - in 2007 it was £14,215.
On VoF the RAU lost £8,698 in 2006 - in 2007 this shot up to a £32,515 loss.
In 2006 local branches, through Identity and VoF, subsidised 'HQ' to the tune of £19,715. In 2007 it was £46,730! And what will it be in 2008 at that rate of increase?
In the context of the earlier articles in this series there is a clear picture emerging of a party sliding into financial difficulties from the centre, and frantically plugging the gap by increasingly sucking money from the local organisations. The evidence for this is not just the growing subsidy through Identity and VoF sales identified in this article, but also the increasing 'loan' from the RAU to the national party set out in article number 4.
And so to a brief word on the Trafalgar Club. This is basically a dining club which, in principle, differs little from similar schemes run by other parties. In this case, in return for a substantial donation, you have the opportunity to enjoy a meal (of debatable quality) followed by a speech from Nick Griffin. Astonishingly, some people actually take up this offer!
What is strange is the way this is handled in the Accounts. It is, we are told in the Chairman's Introduction" a "body ... administered by this department [Administration] ... in order to avoid the danger of 'all eggs in one basket' the National Treasurer is not permitted to handle this body's finances" but it is subject to "full external audit".
This is a very strange arrangement, as well as being pretty offensive to a treasurer who is allowed to handle everything else but not - for some reason - the Trafalgar Club. By external audit they are presumably referring to the audit of accounts prepared by Silver and Co - but they are reporting on Accounts prepared by...the National Treasurer, who is "not permitted to handle this body's finances"! So are the Trafalgar Club's transactions contained within the BNP's Accounts or not? And if so, where? And if not, then how are they subject to "external audit"?
There are malcontents within the BNP (or recently expelled therefrom) who allege that the proceeds of this Club have too close a relationship to Nick Griffin's back pocket - there is nothing in the BNP's accounts to disprove those suggestions!