The trouble for the Decembrists from the beginning was that not only did they underestimate their real enemy, Nick Griffin, but they completely failed to land any telling blows against him, preferring to attack Griffin by proxy, venting themselves against the unpopular Mark Collett and David Hannam in the hope of damaging Griffin.
It was never going to work.
Lurid stories of Collett (left) and Hannam being caught in what we might discreetly call "inappropriate circumstances" with two underage girls during a BNP conference had been doing the rounds for some time, but for the Decembrists not only to resurrect them but also to admit to an intimate knowledge of what had happened not unnaturally led many to the observation that those renewing the allegations were as complicit in covering up the incident as the hierarchy of the BNP, as they had firmly sat on the allegations for more than a year.
We quoted a BNP insider, posting on an anti-Griffin website, thus:
We all could tell they were underage as soon as they walked through led by Collett and many of us said as much to each other including the barman.In response we asked:
When the girls came back down complaining about the demands for sex it was even more obvious they were children and it was Kenny Smith who persuaded them not to go to the press with the mobile phone footage and promised them that Collett and Hannam would be disciplined by the party.
One of the girls bluetoothed the footage to Kenny and I believe he gave it to security (pos. Martin Reynolds) the next morning.
If Kenny hadn't persuaded them and their mother - who arrived later with a security guy - out of going to the press Collett and Hannam would have had to be expelled, but such a media furore would also have been very damaging for the party.'
* Why didn't Kenny Smith and the other witnesses report this alleged crime when it happened?The fuss eventually died down, but continues to smoulder barely noticed in the background and may yet return to haunt Britain's most voluble anti-paedophile party.
* If Smith and co 'could tell they were underage as soon as they walked through led by Collett', why weren't they stopped immediately?
* If the barman at Blackpool's New Kimberley Hotel could tell that the two girls were underage, why didn't he report these activities to the police?
* Matt Single, formerly one of the BNP's security team, has admitted that he knew about this incident when it happened. Why didn't he report it?
* Why did Kenny Smith persuade the girls and a parent of one of them not to go to the police with the mobile phone footage of the alleged incident?
* If Kenny Smith sent the mobile phone footage to Martin Reynolds, the BNP's pervert Head of Security, who was it who then sent it both to us and the Blackpool Gazette?
* What kind of political party would rather hide alleged child abuse than cause any harm to itself?
Underestimating and failing to attack Nick Griffin from the outset was the biggest error made by the Decembrists. Second to that came their failure to seek alliances with the surviving Tyndallite/hardline groupings within the BNP - though admittedly, it is difficult to see how softening moderates of Sadie Graham's stamp were ever going to work with Tyndallite purists. But, if the common enemy was Griffin some form of strategic alliance was vital, yet little effort was made to bring it about, and though the Tyndallites may have cheered from the sidelines they were careful to keep their distance.
Not that it did them any good, since Griffin took the opportunity to oust the elected Tyndallite Chris Jackson from his post as North West Regional Organiser and installed himself as head man in the Tyndallites' most visible area of strength.
Despite the deep damage inflicted on the BNP in the few weeks of the rebellion, as January progressed it was evident to some observers that, through a combination of lying, ruthlessness and the rebels' own incoherent strategy, Nick Griffin had already gained the upper hand. Searchlight noted: "If they [the rebels] continue to oppose the party leadership whilst falling over themselves to appear loyal to the party then they will wither away in the not too distant future."
Only when it became obvious that the rebellion had reached its point of maximum impact did the rebels finally fix their sights on Nick Griffin, but by then it was far too late. We said:
[The rebels now] implicitly acknowledge what was stark-staringly obvious from day one - that whatever the accusations against Collett and Hannam, the real problem in the BNP is Nick Griffin himself. Belatedly, the rebels have shifted the focus to Griffin, but the weeks spent in half-heartedly professing loyalty to the BNP leader have cost them dear. Griffin is a ruthless operator, as the rebels knew full well before beginning their adventure, and nothing was more certain than that he would act aggressively, decisively and without scruple. Nothing less on the part of the rebels was ever going to bring them anywhere near success.By now operating under the name "Voice of Change", the rebels began, as we put it, to "grind into action". Long on promise and short on delivery, the rebels said: "Every single individual expelled in recent weeks is determined to have their own membership reinstated through formal grievance procedures, acknowledging that this may involve costly legal action."
Alas, this did not happen - nor did a promise to stand "independent nationalist" candidates against BNP candidates materialise. This promise was made when it became clear that "Voice of Change" could not (and would not be allowed to) operate as a dissident group within the BNP.
Providing light relief from the rigours of the BNP's internal travails at exactly the right time was the Sky TV documentary, "BNP Wives", which introduced the world to terrifying racist Lynne Mozar (above) and the dippy, deluded (not to mention deserted) Marlene Guest. While Mozar maniacally declaimed that the BNP was hers, all hers, and (while being no Kate Moss herself) called a woman objecting to a BNP anti-mosque campaign a "fat slag", Marlene found herself on the wrong end of a question about Nazi medical experiments: "Well apparently didn't they get a lot of dentistry and plastic surgery?" she sort of explained in one of many convoluted Marlene-isms.
Hailed as "fine ambassadors for the BNP" by, er, the BNP, The London Paper saw Mozar and Guest in a different light: "Marlene Guest, busy giving idiocy a bad name in Rotherham; and Lynne Mozar, the BNP's Southeast regional secretary, proving you can be a Southeast regional idiot as well as a village one – are out on their own. Just BNP Women, then."
Badly in need of a morale boost - and to prove that the membership was backing Nick Griffin - the BNP called a national mobilisation of activists for a weekend of leafleting in London, allegedly to get the party's May GLA and mayoral campaigns off the ground (in January?). Most of the BNP's big-wigs, Griffin included, turned up, but apparently the membership (even that based in London) found better things to do, and - not for the first (or last) time - the BNP lied through its teeth about how many members had actually turned out. The figure, and the number of leaflets delivered, varied depending on which BNP blog you read - anything up to 250. Even 250 is a derisory figure for a party of the alleged size of the BNP, but ever-vigilant Searchlight disputed even that.
Finally, BNP elections "guru" Eddy Butler gave a figure of around 100. Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate and Searchlight noted: "Given that this was a national turnout then a figure of only 100 is not too impressive. I was in Sandwell earlier this year when we had 221 people (yes, that is the number who signed in), virtually all from the Black Country and Birmingham area. On that particular day we managed to deliver 45,000 newspapers. Now that was impressive."
If the BNP's flop of a "national mobilisation" had the hidden agenda of underscoring BNP members' alleged support for Nick Griffin, then part of that same agenda may have been Griffinite Richard Barnbrook's insertion of himself into a Police Federation march calling for better police pay. Of course, Barnbrook's overweening ego played its part, but the circumstance was calculated to generate BNP publicity on the back of quite another (and better) cause.
Brian Paddick told the London Evening Standard, "I felt very uncomfortable that there was someone from the BNP. I was aware of him being there and I pointed it out to federation officials but there was nothing more that I could do. I was very uncomfortable that he was anywhere near me." Searchlight's Gerry Gable said: "The police federation leaders should have told him to get lost." And so say all of us.
The name of the BNP's highly presentable answer to Julie Andrews, Donna Bailey of soon to be infamous Upper Beeding, came to greater prominence in late January when she and her supporters stormed into a meeting of Upper Beeding Parish Council, and, amid scenes described as "quite threatening" by one councillor, demanded Bailey's co-option.
Not getting her pushy way, Bailey then forced a by-election for a vacant parish council seat.
The Observer reported:
"In Upper Beeding, Donna Bailey's candidature is being opposed by Joyce Shaw, a former stalwart of the parish council, who's come out of retirement, and Becki Davoudi, who has an Iranian father, and, like the Asian family who have revived the village shop, has good reason to oppose the far right. What they're fighting is nothing as concrete as a political programme or the certainty of violence, but something vaguer: a chilling of the atmosphere, a potential for disgrace."More in hope than expectation the Voice of Change rebels came together in Brinsley Parish Hall to discuss their next moves. As there hadn't been too many previous moves, and since Nick Griffin had had the best of them, what might just - if called earlier and under decisive leadership - have sounded Griffin's death knell instead underlined the differences between the rebels themselves and highlighted their lack of direction. The meeting served only to sound the rebel's death knell.
Searchlight's own Scarlet Pimpernel Nick Lowles, who attended the meeting, reported:
Griffin would not have been too concerned with the outcome of this meeting. It finished with the rebels being in the worst possible position. They are no longer in the party (or at least in positions of influence) in any real sense yet they have backed away from launching an alternative party at a time when they still have a degree of support around the country. Launching a new party is of course not easy and would alienate some of their key supporters who wanted to remain in the BNP but when is there ever a good time to split. The answer surely has to be when you can achieve your maximum influence and that is certainly now and not after a possible BNP London or European victory.The last act of January was an obscure parish-pump by-election for Calne Town Council's Lickhill ward. Ever optimistic BNP candidate Robert Baggs spoke as if the election was in the bag (sorry!), with tales of "thumbs up and toots from passing motorists" intertwined with an unlikely story concerning the arrival of "4 black gentlemen" in a J-registered car "who had obviously arrived to intimidate and harass our team".
One day the rebels will surely look back at the meeting as being an opportunity wasted. Massed in the room were many of the BNP’s super activists and surely a nucleus of a new party and if ever they had the momentum to launch an alternative the time is now. Throughout Griffin’s career he has shown himself to be a master of factionalism and spitefulness and as night follows day it is clear that over the next few months he will drive his opponents out of the party one way or another.
Sadly (or not) Baggs bagged 84 votes out of 791 cast and reached for the sick-bag.
To be continued...