The BNP have been setting out their stall for this summer’s European Election campaign. Just as they’ve systematically looted chunks of British history, symbolism and legend for their own cynical purposes before, they’re at it again. This time they’re campaigning under the slogan “Battle for Britain” and accessorising their usual ranting with Second World War RAF nostalgia and imagery.
This has already seen the threat of legal action from Dame Vera Lynn, as the BNP are marketing an album of Second World War classic songs, including “White Cliffs of Dover”. Much of the national press has covered this story, and a little more research has revealed the album also includes contributions from the once famous black singer “Hutch”, Leslie Hutchinson, plus the composer Irving Berlin, bandleaders Bert Ambrose and Joe Loss and comedian Bud Flanagan, who were all Jewish. A rather more multicultural mix than Mr Griffin and his chums might have realised.
Something a bit closer to us in R J Mitchell’s old home town is their use of a Second World War Spitfire as the main image for the campaign. I’m sure that a lot of us, even people who aren’t usually given to having a go at the BNP, might think that this was overstepping the mark, hijacking such an iconic image for party political purposes.
The Spitfire picture – “Romeo Foxtrot Delta” – is the one on the BNP website.
It’s identifiable from its “RF” marking as belonging to 303 Squadron. And guess what? 303 was a Polish squadron!
It seems that none of the “patriots” at the BNP obviously know or care enough about the history of the Battle of Britain, despite all their enthusiastic flag waving, to get this detail right. Whereas I, a female of the left-wing political tradition, spotted it as soon as I got hold of a colour version of the picture.
We even know which Polish pilot flew this plane: Squadron Leader Jan Zumbach. Here he is in 1942.
Now I don’t know about you, but that seems to be an odd choice for the party currently circulating local election materials damning the present Government for opening “the doors of Britain to the hudled (sic) masses of Eastern Europe”.
Still, it’s an easy mistake to make. After all, if they just picked a random photo of a Battle of Britain plane, they would have had about a 1 in 5 chance of picking a “non-Brit”.
During the Battle of Britain the Poles shot down 203 Luftwaffe aircraft which stood for 12% of total German losses in this battle, punching well above their weight in numbers, though credit where it’s due – the highest scoring individual “ace” was a Czech, Sgt Josef František!
According to the website of the Battle of Britain Historical society, aircrew came from the following countries:
Great Britain - 2,340, Australia - 32 , Barbados – 1, Belgium – 28, Canada – 112, Czechoslovakia – 89, France – 13, Ireland – 10, Jamaica – 1, Newfoundland – 1, New Zealand – 127, Poland – 145, Rhodesia – 3, South Africa – 25, United States – 9.
So it’s probably just as well that when the Nazis invaded their home countries, those guys from France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Poland didn’t take the BNP’s advice to refugees and asylum-seekers and just go to the nearest safe country, which could well have been neutral Switzerland or Sweden.
And that was just the situation in 1940 – before the end of the war “our” planes were piloted by airmen from many other nations, including India (including modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh) and Sierra Leone.
But though we might laugh at this gaff, this is a serious matter. Let’s remember what this image is being used to promote – the BNP’s European election campaign, and specifically a series of “black tie” dinner events with BNP leader Nick Griffin as the speaker.
That’s the same Nick Griffin who in 1998 was found guilty of inciting race hatred at Harrow Crown Court for denying that the Holocaust ever took place.
Remember that, when you see the BNP daring to try and bask in the glory of “the Few”.