Leaked document reveals how the far-right party is showing signs of strain in the run-up to elections
Senior members of the British National Party are "burning out", a leaked document drawn up by leaders of the far-right organisation has revealed. Long-serving activists are prone to fits of depression, picking fights with other members and "irrational or erratic behaviour", the BNP party manual says. It tells members how to spot someone with signs of "burn-out" and reveals that the BNP is dogged by in-fighting.
The details will come as some comfort to MPs who have cautioned that the BNP poses its biggest electoral threat for years as it attempts to capitalise on economic hardship. Harriet Harman, spearheading Labour's local and European election campaign for 4 June, said that many people were not aware that the BNP was fielding such a large number of candidates.
This month the BNP took second place in a council by-election in Manchester.
Under the heading "Burn Out" the activists' and organisers' handbook, which was leaked to the anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, reads: "Occasionally, a previously hard-working and constructive activist or official will 'burn out' and either go into an inactive fit of depression or, even worse, will start picking fights with colleagues or the leadership as an 'excuse' to drop out.
"The little factional squabbles that break out every few years in all political organisations always act of [sic] magnets to people in this unfortunate position. Although it's not very common, because we have so many officials doing so many great jobs, it's inevitable that a few will always be vulnerable." Signs of burn-out include "raised levels of irritability, irrational or erratic behaviour, depression and loss of hope".
The manual goes on: "If it happens to you, if by chance the time should come when you've had enough and have nothing more to offer, then please, please don't undo all the good work you've done and lose the friendship of people who have come to trust and admire you. Instead of picking fights or blaming other people for your decision to go, just tell your most trusted colleagues that you need some time out, shake hands and walk away with your head held high. That way you'll be welcome back at any time you want to get involved again, and in any case you can always be proud of your past efforts."
The booklet also warns activists not to set up official party blogs because "they can't write proper English" and describes some members as "oddballs".
A Searchlight spokesman said: "Everyone knows BNP members are irrational, erratic, hopeless people who like picking fights and blaming others, but it's surprising to hear them described that way in their own training manual. This proves that if any of this rabble were to be elected they wouldn't be fighting Britain's corner in Europe; they'd be fighting each other."