Naturally, the political geniuses of the BNP had neglected to check on the status of the name "The Londoner", which, as they should have known, was a trademark registered to the GLA. The GLA promptly fired off a legal missive accusing the BNP of "intentionally trading on the goodwill of the GLA in the trademark of ‘The Londoner’ by using a trademark which is confusingly similar to ‘The Londoner’ and that the use of the trademark, does, or is intended to, confuse or mislead members of the public". The same missive demanded that the BNP cease and desist and remove from circulation any publication using "The Londoner" as its title.
This wasn't to be the last time in 2008 that the BNP sought to sow the seeds of confusion by conflating other, perfectly respectable causes with its own racist campaigns.
In the best piece of national press publicity to come the way of racism for many a year, the Daily Mail developed a soft spot for what it called "the BNP's blonde bombshell", and devoted a two-page spread to Upper Beeding's best known paragon of virtue, community activist, all-round good egg (and BNP member), Donna Bailey.
Donna has the kind of looks that drive normally woman-free BNP members to stock up on tissue papers, and was the perfect antidote to the recently aired derangement of Lynne Mozar. Nobody ever commented on the BNP website to the effect that "We need more like Lynne Mozar in the BNP", but the party's article showcasing the Daily Mail's Donna tribute quickly filled with comments that might have come from schoolboys drooling over a Penthouse centre-spread.
As we noted: "Donna is, as they say, a class act. It's almost as if the BNP has recruited its very own Julie Andrews who comes skipping and singing over the Sussex Downs spreading sweetness and light wherever she goes."
This Julie Andrews had selective vision, however.
Donna told the Daily Mail: "I thought probably exactly the same of the BNP as you do. I thought, if this [the BNP website] is all racist, offensive stuff then I am switching right off. But it wasn't. It was all perfectly sensible. I found myself agreeing with everything - especially the immigration stuff."
Just in case Donna missed it, we pointed out that "the immigration stuff" was very difficult to avoid on the BNP website, as was the barely disguised racism behind it, and that if you took away "the immigration stuff" you could fit the BNP's policies on the back of a postage stamp. Even more difficult to avoid was the overt racism of the BNP's keyboard army of bloggers and forum posters, but Donna must, by some mysterious means, never have come across these dubious delights.
"...we'll presume that Donna refrained from visiting the numerous websites of the BNP's Blog Battalion, where open racism and complete contempt for other peoples and cultures is all too obvious ('Turnips', 'Muzzies', 'Mudslimes' ''Groids', Donna?). Or that she has never visited a BNP-infested Internet forum where the tone is somewhere between the toilet and the sewer, and the mental ability to step back a couple of rungs on the evolutionary ladder is a prerequisite to talking on anything like equal terms with them"and added:
We'll also assume that Donna suffers from some unspecified but mercifully unique condition that blinds her to any awareness of the after-hours activties of so many of her fellow BNP members - you know the kind of thing, trivialities like murder, solicitation to murder, bomb-making, wife-beating, GBH, fraud, attacking Eddy Butler... not to mention the latest additions to the list, such entering members' homes by deception to make off with their property, bugging their private conversations and then pasting them on the Internet.Donna told the Daily Mail that, just like her, BNP were "quite normal" and that the party suffered from a "bad press".
Back in the reality of the BNP, the Decembrist rebellion limped on. An increasingly confident Nick Griffin made the rebels a tricksy offer they could all too easily refuse, as Searchlight reported:
In exchange for giving up their ‘strike’ and taking down their insurgent website and blogs the rebel leaders were given the chance of getting their party cards back.The move was typical of Griffin. Everybody beyond the gullible BNP membership saw a trap being loaded, especially the rebels, who knew they would be lucky to last three months, good behaviour or not, as Griffin picked them off at leisure. This was a double trap, though, since in refusing Griffin's offer the rebels gave the BNP leader the opportunity to portray himself as a man of compromise and reason, spurned by disruptive splitters. And so, as always, it was win-win for Griffin.
The only condition laid out by the ever-so-generous party leadership was that they would only return as probationary members. This would mean that their immediate future in the party would be dependent on good behaviour and, just as importantly for Nick Griffin, they would not be entitled to stand for the party leadership at least the next three years.
At the same time Griffin-inspired rumours began to surface portending yet more changes to the BNP constitution, aimed at curtailing challenges to Nick's leadership - and the BNP's ever obliging mug battalion nodded sagely that this was the right and proper thing to do.
The saga of Donna Bailey finally came to a head with the Upper Beeding Parish Council by-election in which the flaxen-haired goddess rather less than honestly stood as an independent. This stance was contradicted, rather, by the BNP, which claimed her for its own, and sat back confident in expectations of a famous victory that would propel Donna into Upper Beeding's corridors of power.
Alas, Donna badly misfired. Having failed to secure co-option by invading an Upper Beeding Parish Council meeting, she also failed to secure election, losing out to a woman "who likes poodles", as a later film, based on these events, reported.
Four Burnley BNP supporters found themselves on the thick end of a High Court ruling that landed them with £30,000 in costs after they challenged an election result in the town's Rosegrove with Lowerhouse ward. Not mincing his words, Burnley Council Chief Executive Steve Rumbelow said that the four had failed to obtain proper legal advice (we wouldn't care to guess where they did obtain it) and had been "cajoled into going on a fishing trip".
He added: "Four citizens of Burnley have been put in a position where they face substantial costs, which could have been avoided. The fact that it's four individuals means the British National Party isn't liable for any of the costs despite the fact they've been using this for party political means."
You really would have thought that Burnley BNP might have smelled a rat when advised to object to the Rosegrove with Lowerhouse result on an individual basis. Obviously somebody in the party hierarchy knew they hadn't got a hope and wasn't prepared to sacrifice party money in a lost cause - but was more than happy to encourage the unfortunate four into financial penury.
The bewildering melange of fact and fiction that are the BNP's finances came under the scrutiny of Radio 4's "File on Four" in a programme Simon Darby predictably pre-warned was an "attack" on the party.
With considerations of impartiality and legal responsibility to address, "File on Four" put itself at a disadvantage in its dealings with a party never knowingly observant of either, and the resulting programme, while still damaging, was not the killer blow it should have been.
Still, enough evidence of BNP shady dealings was presented that would in any other party have led to an internal inquiry at the very least, and should have been of deep interest to the Electoral Commission. As Nick Griffin, chief suspect in many of the allegations made, was the only person within the BNP who could order an inquiry, that was always a non-starter - not that anybody would have trusted a Griffin-instigated inquiry, - and the Electoral Commission... well, our experience of that particular "watchdog" is such that we wonder if there is any point to it at all.
Lancaster Unity listed five points of interest raised by "File on Four":
* Possible donation fraudand concluded
* Potential PAYE fraud
* Dodgy unreceipted transactions
* Lies from the BNP's treasurer
* Shredded documents
All in all, an intriguing programme that was only able to touch the surface of the corruption that is endemic within and around the British National Party. The feeling I got from it is that there is a lot more information to be dug out - but that's the feeling we all get when the words 'corruption' and 'BNP' are mentioned in the same sentence.News that the BNP had moved its Excalibur tat outlet to Deeside in North Wales was greeted with digust on the part of local Labour MP Mark Tami. “This is a very unwelcome development,” he told the North Wales Daily Post. “Clearly their views are abhorrent to the vast majority of the British public. Nobody would want to see this in the area and I hope that people steer clear of buying any merchandising from the BNP.”
Naturally Excalibur failed to inform landlords Evans Easyspace of its connection to the BNP, and moved heaven and earth to keep the location of its premises secret. It was so secret, apparently, that Nick Griffin told the Daily Post that even he didn't know where it was - and if you believe that...
So began the quest to discover the whereabouts of the BNP's repository of fake Victoria Crosses and cheap t-shirts, which we'll return to in a later post.
Meanwhile, local opposition gathered as the BNP announced plans to stage its annual Red White and Blue money-spinner in Denby, Derbyshire, for the second year running. Party member Alan Warner, on whose land the August event would be staged, had initially sided with the Decembrist rebels until leaned on by panicked local officials, and later resigned his Denby parish council seat claiming that other councillors didn't talk to him and that parish councils "have no power".
Denby residents objected to the BNP's presence after witnessing their loutish behaviour the previous year. Denby man John Lumsden told his local newspaper: "The people who caused the main problems were the organisers who stayed up all night having large karaoke parties." 76 year-old Brian Bentley said: "We had a lot of noise last year and a lot of people from the festival left the site and were just walking around the village drinking."
All political parties are prone to pulling some low tricks, but few do so with the resolve and tenacity of the BNP. Treating the Hastings Voluntary Association for the Blind with utter contempt, the party of truth and honesty booked the Association's premises under the name "British Heritage" so as to hold a meeting addressed by Nick Griffin.
An appalled HVAB spokesperson said: "To say we are shocked about this is an understatement. We are horrified. We would not have allowed the booking if we had known it was for this purpose."
Lancaster Unity remarked:
The BNP's current infestation of South African ex-Security Service personnel seems to be increasing the BNP's love of cloak and dagger operations. Supporters were told to meet outside a nearby Methodist Church before being directed to the venue, a five minute walk away. The password, apparently, was "buffoons"."Buffoons", we can safely assume, tells us all we need to know about the BNP's attitude towards Hastings Voluntary Association for the Blind.
Cloak and dagger was also the order of the day in Birmingham, where a tiny band of fascists skulked around the back streets a-purposed on holding a "trade union" AGM. This wasn't just any old trade union, however, this was the "one big union", the "fighting union", the "[insert windy hyperbole here] union", Solidarity - general secretary Patrick Harrington.
Our friends at Norfolk Unity take up the story:
In Birmingham on February 23rd the BNP's bogus micro "trade union", Solidarity, held its annual conference at the Apollo Hotel, Birmingham. The booking was made in the name of "Accentuate", a vaporous one man "PR company" which seems to exist to issue press releases nobody takes any notice of.After the AGM, Harrington and Solidarity began issuing grandiloquent statements on the business conducted and debates held, neglecting to mention that only 27 members of the "one big union" could be bothered to turn up out of the 211 Harrington claimed were members - itself a lie, as Solidarity's accounts were later to prove.
Solidarity, taken from its founders Clive Potter and Tim Hawke in dubious circumstances in a Griffin-inspired coup and handed to failure and nonentity Patrick Harrington, is so useless that the only advice it could give Mark Walker, at the centre of its feeble cause celebre case, was to "hire a lawyer specialising in employment law".
The reason for booking the Apollo Hotel in the name "Accentuate" was purely to con the owners and to disguise the fact that this was a BNP event in all but name.
True to paranoid form, Solidarity insisted its members meet outside a McDonalds from where they would be redirected. I understand they were also told to keep schtumm so that the Apollo's owners didn't tumble to the fact that it was playing host to a gathering of hardcore racists.
The paranoia extended even to its own small band of deluded devotees, who were subjected to bag searches and "other security measures". Photography was out, so were mobile phones and "recording equipment", and only three hours were allowed from start to finish.
As February closed the Guardian broke an interesting story on the West London-based CL English Language college, which teaches hundreds of foreign language students, charging fees of up to an eyewatering £30 per hour.
What caught the Guardian's eye was that the college was controlled by old Nick Griffin friend, Roberto Fiore, leader of the neo-fascist Italian Forza Nuova, who had in the past held international fascist gatherings on the premises.
The college was a "substantial business", according to one of its accountants - and with 100 students claimed to be there at any one time paying £30 per hour we imagine that it is. Odd then, as the Guardian clearly felt, that it should produce so little apparent profit: "Despite its size ... its latest accounts show that it recorded a profit of just £2,214 during 2006, and £1,821 the year before."
Or perhaps not so surprising.
CL English Language's accountants refused to be drawn on why the profits of the "substantial business" were so small, claiming client confidentiality - but we're sure you won't fall off your chairs in astonishment to learn that the reluctant currency counters were none other than sweet old Edgar and Jean Griffin, Ma and Pa to the BNP's own Nick.
To be continued...