The deputy leader of the British National Party has denied allegations of racism after branding the Archbishop of York an “ambitious African” and accusing him of being “derogatory, condescending and arrogant”.
Simon Darby said comments made to a local newspaper and on his online blog in which he made “spear-thrower” references to people from Uganda – Dr John Sentamu’s country of birth – were not a bigoted blast. But the senior figure in the far-right organisation has been condemned as “disgusting “ and “poisonous” by anti-fascism campaigners after alleging the Archbishop – a vociferous critic of the BNP – was trying to rob English people of their identity.
In a blog entry dated April 23, Mr Darby – second-in-command to BNP chairman Nick Griffin – wrote: “As if the responsibilities of being the Archbishop of York were not enough, the ambitious African has apparently used his power and influence to kindly bestow upon the world the right to be English.”
He also labelled Dr Sentamu – who recently supported making St George’s Day a public holiday to promote English unity – “a professional anti-British zealot” and said: “If I went to a Ugandan village and said the people there were genetic mongrels and that they had no right to their Ugandan identity, I would be picking out spears for days.”
But defending his comments, Mr Darby said: “I stand by my quotes – I don’t see how that is offensive or racist. It can be twisted or distorted to look that way, but what I am saying is factual. There are lots of indigenous people there (in Uganda) and in the bush they have spears – that is their lifestyle.
“I am not implying that all Ugandan people use spears at all. I was speaking specifically about the indigenous people. The spear is an integral part of their culture and lifestyle. I wouldn’t dream of denying Ugandan tribespeople their identity, but the contrast is that that is what he (Dr Sentamu) is doing. If I went there and preached to those indigenous people in the same way that Sentamu does to us, then I’d be attacked.
“If I was derogatory, condescending and arrogant – because that’s what John Sentamu is – I would be attacked. And rightly so.”
Last month, the Archbishop slammed the BNP for trying to define “Englishness” and said its suggestions that a “bloodless genocide” was taking place in the UK were “beyond belief”, having previously pleaded with people not to vote for the party at the 2007 local elections. His office was unavailable for comment on Mr Darby’s views.
A spokesman for anti-fascism campaign group Searchlight said: “These disgusting threats and thinly-veiled racism from its senior leadership exposes the real face of the BNP. Even somebody as internationally respected as Dr Sentamu is not immune from their poisonous slurs.”
The Press (York)