Sonia Gable investigates the BNP’s latest scam to get money out of its supporters
The fifth begging letter from the British National Party this year shows that the party may have reached the limit of its members’ and supporters’ financial resources and is resorting to yet more lies to fill its coffers.
The letter, printed on garish yellow paper and sent in the second week of March, was a second attempt to raise money for the party’s “Rapid Expansion Plan”. The party was “struggling due to unprecedented growth”, according to the first appeal sent out at the end of February. So many people were “flocking to the BNP” that “we cannot cope”. So “I need you to support the party’s ‘Rapid Expansion Plan’ NOW”, demanded Nick Griffin, the party leader, followed by three exclamation marks.
The BNP needed to win a seat in the European election but it also had to have a “telecommunications system” and a “central administration office to deal with the current huge increase in enquiries, party membership and organisational growth” and the “40,000 – 75,000” enquiries and membership applications that would result from the distribution of “over 30 million leaflets across the UK” over the next six months.
On and on the six-page letter went, bandying about the word “professional” and claiming that £85,150 was needed to cope with a projected 400% growth in the party’s “database” in the next six months.
And the money was needed quickly: Griffin needed “to put the orders in next week”. There was even a marketing brochure for the “professional communications system for medium-sized enterprises” that Griffin said he wanted to buy for £28,650, though nothing about how the BNP’s largely incompetent staff would ever learn how to use it.
Clearly the money was not forthcoming, not in a week or even three. And the problem would not go away. In fact between the February and March letters “we have become even more popular”, Griffin claimed, because of the party’s “massive victory in the Swanley council election”. Only a party with so few councillors could trumpet a single council by-election win as a massive national victory.
Griffin’s marketing consultant, Jim Dowson, must have advised him that outlining the political need for the desired equipment was all very well, but the appeal might work better if supporters thought they were getting a bargain and at the same time benefiting party members. “Normally, the set up costs for what we are doing would cost over £200,000,” the March letter said, “but by using companies owned by members and supporters we have cut the cost down to £85,150”.
The brochure that came with the February letter had one strange omission, the name of the company that was offering the “HiPath 3000” system the BNP wanted to buy. A search readily revealed a five-year-old brochure with an identical front page, except for the inclusion of the company’s name and website. The company was Siemens, the Germany-based global conglomerate operating in IT, communications, energy and many other industries. It was hardly a company owned by a BNP member.
A spokesperson for Siemens Enterprise Communications, which makes the HiPath system, said the company was completely unaware of the BNP’s use of its graphics in its campaign. The system was normally sold to customers through resellers, who would use Siemens’s product information in their own branded brochures. However resellers would not lift Siemens’s images and design in this way and would certainly not produce a brochure without their own name on it.
She also thought it strange that anyone would issue a brochure produced in 2004 for an old version of the communications system that is no longer sold.
So what is going on? Is Griffin afraid to admit that he wants to spend his members’ donations on a product from a German-owned company? Or is the brochure just window dressing, the supplier’s name omitted to make it easier for Griffin to fob members off with some second-hand second-rate equipment bought from Dowson or his ilk, just like the BNP’s “truth truck”, better known as the lie lorry.
Perhaps it is simply that the BNP is worried that any publicity will scare the reseller off. After all, nobody respectable wants to be seen doing business with the BNP.
Even before the latest letter, BNP members and supporters were getting thoroughly fed up with the stream of letters from Griffin asking for donations to support this, that or other aspect of the BNP’s “growth” and its European election effort.
The year had barely started when Griffin’s “new year address” landed on hard-pressed supporters’ doormats, with a plea to contribute to the party’s “People’s Defence Fund”. The fund had been set up following the publication on the internet of the BNP members’ list last November, with the aim of raising money to “employ legal experts to defend those of our people suffering hardship, discrimination and persecution in their employment for being members of this party”.
The People’s Defence Fund also had a wider political purpose: to “give a bloody nose to all those little press creeps and the Lab/Tory/Lib Dem sycophants who have built careers on the back of attacking the BNP and our long-suffering people”.
The new year address followed six appeals in 2008 for the “Building to Grow fund”, the London election campaign, to buy the “truth truck” and to publish and distribute the outrageously racist Racism Cuts Both Ways pamphlet. Griffin claimed that all these appeals achieved “amazing results”.
Confident that his members and supporters had bottomless purses or a moronic level of financial acumen, Griffin did not even wait until January was out to launch the party’s appeal for funds to fight the European election. Headed “The Battle for Britain Commences”, it waxed lyrical on how winning “just one” seat in the European Parliament “would put us on the world stage and would lead to an avalanche of popular support throughout this country”.
Controversially a leaflet enclosed with the letter adopted the image of an RAF Spitfire, now revealed to be one flown by the celebrated 303 Squadron of the RAF, made up of Polish airmen rescued from France shortly before the Nazi occupation. The BNP has continued to use the image on its fundraising material in the face of ridicule and accusations of hypocrisy.
The leaflet invited supporters to attend the party’s “2009 European election campaign nationwide roadshow”, which promised “multi-media sound and vision”, speeches from “Chairman Nick Griffin and invited European mystery guest” as well as champagne reception, entertainment and light supper, all at a cost of £30. “I guarantee you will never have seen anything like this,” wrote Griffin.
The reality turned out a bit different. The European mystery guest never showed up and the “roadshow” encountered opposition from local people and last-minute venue cancellations wherever it went.
Hot on the heels of that exuberantly written appeal, full of bold text, underlining and italics, came a more personal and undated letter from Griffin asking supporters to make a standing order of “just £3.00 a week” to “save this country from destruction before it’s too late”.
It was recognition of how our HOPE not hate campaigning was hurting the BNP. “The Labour Party, the liberal media and a whole host of leftist fanatics, led by Searchlight, have now become so concerned about our success, that the latter has employed the services of the WORLD’S TOP campaigning team to prevent us from winning,” wrote Griffin. “Blue State Digital. They’re the team that co-ordinated Barack Obama’s campaign for the White House!
“Your £3 per week can help send Obama’s boys back to Washington with their tails between their legs,” claimed Griffin, after condemning them for being American. Griffin’s own longstanding connections with American nazis are of course quite different.
Those who have responded to these appeals may be regretting it. In January Mark Collett, the BNP’s head of publicity, had to admit responsibility for printing 700,000 “Euro warm up leaflets” without an official imprint, which meant they could not be distributed. We understand that dozens of BNP activists who could have been out canvassing are spending many hours peeling off thousands of tiny stickers to place on the leaflets as straight as they can manage.
The “HiPath 3000” brochure distributed by the BNP likewise has no imprint. Did Collett print that too, in bid to con BNP members into coughing up for their party once more?
* Since Searchlight went to press, the BNP has sent another begging letter, the sixth this year. This one purports to be the “Official Launch 2009 European Election Campaign Fund” – implying that all the fundraising to date, including the Battle for Britain tour, was in some way not official. It also claims that the “Rapid Expansion Plan” appeal succeeded in raising the required £85,000.
Hope not hate