A far-right party's plan to establish a base for summer schools and election preparations in the heart of Essex was met with revulsion last night.
The British National Party's leader Nick Griffin has visited a site in the Maldon district which he said had “huge potential” and revealed he now plans to hold a St George's Day event there next year to “test it out”.
The former Woodbridge School pupil is considering the unnamed location, which overlooks the Blackwater Estuary, for events such as summer schools and the “Red-White-and-Blue” - the party's annual family festival. Its summer schools are designed for training activists for forthcoming elections with advice on issues such as canvassing the public and dealing with the press.
And last night the party's deputy leader told the EADT there was nowhere in Essex that it would shy away from in future elections.
However John Whittingdale, MP for Maldon and East Chelmsford, said the BNP's message would be rejected by the “vast majority of people”.
Mr Griffin, writing a blog piece on the BNP website under the heading “Autumn in Essex”, said: “Down in London for several important planning/management meetings the other week, I got time to hook up with our national elections officer Eddy Butler for a short excursion out to the Essex coast to view a possible site for future events such as Summer School and perhaps even the Red-White-and-Blue. Overlooking a picturesque east coast estuary, the site has huge potential for us and we agreed to use it for a St George's Day event next year to test it out.”
Mr Whittingdale, MP for Maldon and East Chelmsford, said the BNP was not welcome.
He said: “The BNP preach a message that I entirely reject and I think the vast majority of people in Maldon will reject it as well. I don't think the BNP will find any significant levels of support in Maldon and if that is what they are looking for, they will be wasting their time.
“We have had candidates at the local elections who have not been successful although there has been a couple of parish councillors who have got in when no-one else stood for the posts - that is the only way that they have got in down here. The last thing we would want is to have any kind of controversial political activity from the BNP and its supporters or even those opposed to it as Maldon is a quiet area and that kind of thing would not be welcome.”
However, last night Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP said: “It is not for Mr Whittingdale or any other politicians to decide what the people want - it is up to the people to decide whether they like us or not.”
No-one from Maldon District Council was available to comment on the issue yesterday.
We wonder whether the site is on Mersea Island, a favourite camping venue for various fascist and nazi groups since the 1970s.
One international nazi camp in the 1970s hosted overseas nazis, including a Belgian man with a skill in bomb making. Ironically the camp was secured by members of Column 88, armed with shotguns. Later Searchlight revealed that Column 88 was the state-run British section of Gladio, a Cold War organisation set up to assassinate anybody thought likely to support a Soviet invasion of Western Europe and go underground after it happened. Strangely most of the people on Gladio's hit list across Europe were not sympathisers of Moscow but respectable trade unionists.
After other far-right groups used the site, a huge row broke out between anti-fascists, local people and Essex County Council, who are responsible for the site.