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Credit where credit is due, the BNP almost got its 2007 Accounts to the Electoral Commission by the legal deadline. Almost, but not quite ! In the event they seem to have been submitted within a month of the July deadline, which is pretty early by their standards.
Anyway, to turn to the substance of the document let's start with a general overview. My first impressions you might say. I once heard someone say of the bikini that "what it conceals is more significant than what it reveals", and that remark kept coming to mind as I leafed through the Accounts!
This year there seems to have been some proofreading before the papers were submitted, with fewer of the childish errors of grammar, spelling and syntax which have so amused us all in the past! However the Chairman's Report, eight scintillating pages of the wisdom of Nicholas Griffin, displays the startling mix of naivety and paranoia so typical of the far right. I will deal separately with some of his claims regarding their electoral "progress" and his inventive explanations of their failure to thrive, but how many other political parties could produce the following list of conspiratorial opponents :
Oxfordshire police; Labour Party thugs; illegality by Labour Cabinet Ministers; undemocratic thugs from the far-left; local newspapers; the police and the Electoral Commission; third party disparagers; the unions; the Daily Mirror; postal fraud by Labour and LibDem activists; unscrupulous council officials; a small clique of staff and middle ranking officials [within the BNP !]; the violent far-left of the Labour regime; the viciously anti-BNP neo-Nazi fringe. (All listed and identified in Griffin's 'Chairman's Report' as acting against the BNP, and many of them accused of illegal behaviour. Only surprised that he forgot the BBC. Thank goodness he isn't paranoid!)
Perhaps wisely (from the BNP's perspective that is) the listing of branches/ groups/ contacts no longer appears - thus denying us the opportunity to have a good laugh at the constant organisational instability which bedevils the BNP. In particular we can no longer identify the areas in which the BNP effectively admitted a total lack of any membership or organisational structure.
Still, if we cannot gauge the instability at branch level the accounts do underline the chaos at a more senior level with six of the 18-member Advisory Council removed during the year, mostly in the "purge" of December.
And so we say 'farewell' to the Chairman's Report, and turn to the financial accounts themselves. I will be reviewing these in further detail in a future article, but here are the News at Ten-style headlines:
Auditor says "the financial statements do not give a true and fair view of the state of the party's affairs"
Auditor says they "do not give a true and fair view of the results for the year"
Donation Income falls by 32%
Membership income up by 38% (?)
Income from commercial activities down by 68%!
Deficit for year is £50,000 (against £18,000 surplus in 2006)
Current cash accounts in chaos
Balance sheet shows net liabilities of £85,000+
Party owes £20,000 + in PAYE and VAT - (that's £20k less for schools and hospitals!)
Hope that's an appealing taster. More to follow, starting with Griffin's excuses for electoral failure!