A British National Party Member of the European Parliament would have to stand down after four years of the five-year term and hand the seat to the second person on the BNP candidates’ list, the BNP has said. The requirement, revealed at a meeting of the party’s Advisory Council on 25 January as its candidate selection process was getting under way, shows that the BNP does not take the role of an MEP seriously.
It is unclear whether Nick Griffin, the party leader, would also have to comply with this rule in the event of his election in the North West, where he heads the BNP candidates’ list.
MEPs play an important role in the European legislative process, and thereby in the creation of national legislation in the 27 member states of the European Union. They have an important say on European Commission directives and regulations, international treaties and legislation on many issues, such as the free movement of workers, the internal market and consumer protection.
The European Parliament also shares equal responsibility with the Council of Ministers for the EU budget and exercises supervision over the Commission and management of EU policies.
BNP members elected to a local council commonly take months if not years to understand their function. Learning the ropes in Strasbourg and Brussels would be far harder. The party’s insistence that its MEPs should stand down just at the point they have a chance of actually doing something is bizarre.
The idea that this allows the second person on the list “to gain experience” before the next European election is nonsense. Would the originally elected MEP then not stand again or does the BNP realistically think it will get two MEPs elected in any region in five years’ time?
The truth is that the BNP has no interest in taking part in EU government. All it really wants is the salary and expenses that come with an MEP’s job and the opportunity to further its alliances with extreme-right parties in other EU states. MEPs will have to give 10% of their salary to their party region and “submit their expense claims for full Party audit” – presumably to make sure they claim enough for the party’s benefit.
The Advisory Council, which meets only every three or four months, also decided to appoint an “inner cabinet” to oversee the election campaign. Its members are most of the party’s main national officers together with “Midas Consultant” Jim Dowson, the man responsible for the party’s fundraising over the past year and providing management training for party officers in sunny Valencia.
Dowson’s contribution to the election campaign seems to consist largely of copying Searchlight’s HOPE not hate campaign, though not very well. Several recent BNP campaign initiatives, such as sending out regular campaign emails and encouraging supporters to sign up as activists, are poorly executed copies of HOPE not hate tactics.
But it would be wrong to underestimate Dowson. His fundraising campaign has brought in more money than the BNP has ever enjoyed and it expects to have a turnover of £1 million this year, according to the AC minutes.
Another member of the “inner cabinet” is Mark Collett, the head of publicity. Collett should have received a severe dressing down for wasting a large chunk of Dowson’s money when he printed 700,000 “Euro warm up leaflets” without an official imprint, which meant they could not be distributed. But “golden boy” Collett can do no wrong in the eyes of the party leadership. He apologised and offered his resignation, which naturally was refused. “You stupid boy!” as Captain Mainwaring might have said.
BNP units were offered new leaflets with the imprint or a 33% discount on the illegal one plus free “overlay stickers” containing the imprint. BNP groups around the country are no doubt busy organising “sticker parties”, probably in pubs, at which activists will take time out from campaigning and peel off thousands of small stickers to place on the leaflets. Voters will be able to spot the leaflets done later in the evening by the wonky stickers and beer stains.
Although the party leadership acted quickly when the imprint’s absence was spotted and told units not to distribute the leaflets, some may have got out. York BNP held a day of action in Ryedale in January and distributed an anti-EU leaflet, which it reproduced on its blog. Strangely the part of the leaflet where the imprint should be was cut away, making it impossible to see whether it was there or not.
HOPE not hate