January 11, 2009

Colwyn Bay, Land of Dreams

This article was submitted by one of our readers, Iliacus. We welcome any contributions from our supporters (as long as those contributions conform to the law and are in reasonably good taste). Please send your articles to us via email.

Whatever one's view on the 'leaking' of the BNP 'membership' list (it seems more to have been a contact list in fact) nobody can dispute that it gave countless local newspaper editors an opportunity to fill a few column inches, without requiring them to do much work (or thinking).

Headline "Shock at local BNP membership figures"; a few horrified quotes from local political worthies; and phone Simon Darby for a claim that this shows how the BNP is growing to be an unstoppable force in Lincoln/ Ludlow/ or Timbuktu.

I've not given these articles any more attention than they deserve, which is very, very little, but coverage in Colwyn Bay caught my eye (possibly because your scribe was born in the town). It seems that the presence of 18 Colwyn Bay residents on the list got the local paper a bit excited. Six times the number in Rhyl!! To me that underlines the BNP's pathetic showing in Rhyl, rather than indicating great strength in Colwyn Bay.

Anyway, Darby's response was predictably upbeat. News of their local "strength" did not surprise him at all. "We have a very good organiser there", he claimed.

So, let's assess the BNP's recent record in that North Wales seaside town. Firstly, let's consider the place itself, a town which - like so many traditional seaside resorts - has lost its historic role, without finding a new purpose. It has a beautiful bay, but it also has significant deprivation, poor employment opportunities, low incomes, drug and violence issues. Ally all that to a significant influx of retirees from outside the area and the demographic should be quite favourable to elements of the BNP's ideology.

Until about 18 months ago the BNP's profile in the town was pretty low. Then, in September 2007, a member of a local community council [the Welsh equivalent of English parish councils] announced that he (one Pat Pattison) was joining the BNP, having been co-opted in November 2006 without any political affiliation.

His stay with the party was eventful, and brief. By March 2008 he had announced he was leaving the party - shocked by the "intolerable racism" he had found in the party. No surprise there!

For the key May 2008 council elections (Wales only has such elections at four-yearly intervals) three BNP candidates were nominated to the Colwyn Town Council, and found themselves elected unopposed. Just down the road in Kinmel Bay a fourth candidate was nominated.

And then, oh dear ... well, firstly Neil Hughes in Kinmel Bay begged for his nomination to be withdrawn. He had, he claimed, been duped. "I thought I was supporting someone else to stand. I don't want to stand. I'm annoyed about this". And what was his view on immigration? "I don't want to say anything. I'm a bit confused".

Well, I'm not going to argue with that last statement!

So back to Colwyn Bay, where the BNP's Group of Three marched off to the first meeting of the Council ... and promptly announced that they were all now leaving the BNP and would sit as independents, or would resign if the Council preferred ...

So, Mr Darby, this is what goes on in a place where the BNP has "a very good organiser"? One is left wondering what sort of shambles one finds where the local BNP organiser is merely adequate, or even below par?

Oh, and just returning to the question of local membership figures. At the time of Pat Pattison's resignation there were claimed to be "74 members in the Colwyn Bay area" ... or was it 18? Or is it just any figure that comes into a BNP official's head at the time?


DT said...

Nice to see you back Iliacus

Mr Potter said...

Another interesting and original article, thank you.