October 31, 2009

EDL: Early Departure from Leeds

28 Comment (s)
Image of EDL thugs in Leeds today taken from Indymedia
Back into the vicinity of a computer from the anti-EDL march in Leeds city centre, here's a dogs eye view of the turns of the day so far.

Arriving at about 9:30am into Leeds train station, the streets were notably clear already of anyone but worried looking police and disinterested shoppers. A low line of fencing surrounded city square, where statues were covered up with green tarpaulin and the distictly premature christmas tree that had been there a few days previously had disappeared. Electronic signs and loudspeaker systems were being erected around the square, which was to be the location of the EDL "against muslim extremism" (but of course not racist at all should the shaven headed hordes be believed). Ironically, this location had apparantly been chosen by the EDL as there is a giant statue of a knight on a horse there, who they believed to be St George, but is in fact a statue of "The Black Prince".

A TV van outside the church opposite was having it's doors tested by a couple of policemen seemingly looking for something to do, whilst a policewoman nearby was saying that she hoped noone would show up.

The EDL in Leeds with informant Tony White on the extreme left for a change
Leaving the area for a bit to get some flyers for the Northern Indymedia reporting number photocopied, disturbingly few outside of the area around the station were even aware of what was planned that day. A worker at a coffee shop nearby had heard however and asked if we were planning to attend. They wished the anti EDL demonstrators luck and a free coffee on the house should they return thirsty.

After an hour or so of handing out flyers to various friends and groups who were making their way in ever greater numbers to the city centre, we headed towards the library where various antifascist groups and anti racism campaigners were planning to meet. Again, there was a cordon around the "designated protest zone" and an even heavier police presence at this location. By the time we arrived at about 11.15am, there were very few people, those that were there mainly comprising of UAF stewards in their high visibilty jackets and several people trying to sell a certain newspaper to anyone who showed more than a passing interest in the activity going on.

The police at the entrance to the cordon were struggling to install a metal detector, of the type used at airports and football matches. "I think the batteries about to die Sarge" One policeman was heard shouting across the road. Later in the day, with the protest in full swing, there was still a couple of policemen struggling to make it work, by which point hundreds of people had already passed.

We took some pictures of the line of around 6 police vans and the "battle of the metal detector", and left the cordon to go back down Park Row to see if there was a similar presence at that end of the street. 10 yards down the street however, we were stopped by a police medic who asked what my name was.

"I'm not so sure I want to tell you that" was my first response to this question, unwilling to comply with any attempts to draw me into casual conversation.

"Look, if you're not going to tell me your name, I'm going to arrest you and we can get your name at the station" came the not so friendly reply.

What a surprise - nazi salutes from the EDL
"Surely I'm not required to tell you that" I responded, to which I was told that a blanket section 60 had been placed over the whole of Leeds, authorised by Chief Supt Milson of West Yorkshire Police. This meant, I was told, that they had the power to detain and search me if I was acting in any way suspiciously. When I asked what my suspicious behaviour was, I was told that it was due to me taking photographs of the police.

My efforts to explain that I was covering a major event to contribute to Indymedia, and that it was perfectly natural to be taking pictures when confronted with hundreds of police, a line of police vans and an airport style stop and search area, seemingly carried very little weight. A tense few moments led to a FIT cameraman with a video camera worthy of Universal studios was beckoned to within 3 feet of me to capture the remaining exchange.

As my bag was emptied of the spare socks, bourbons and computer equipment it contained in front of me, a stop and search slip was written out giving the reason "Sec 60 stop. Seen taking photos of police equipment" Of particular note to myself was when I was asked

"Are you a Gypsy or Traveller?"

At first assuming this was some stunning deductive guesswork from the medic, I was surprised to discover that this question actually has it's own y/n box on the form (with an absence of any other similar question on the form, other than the standard "Self Defined Ethnicity Classification" box to which a code was also entered. When I objected to this, and pointed out that it's a fairly offensive thing to include, I was told to bring it up with the home office.

A bunch of EDL supporters with a familiar face popping up?
Finally satisfied with the camerawork of his colleague, the medic turned back into my "Best friend" and helpfully informed me that I wasn't a terrorist after all, with the words:

"If you'd have just given us your name and address when we asked, we wouldn't have had to search you would we as you wouldn't have seemed suspicious", (which is a strange logic when I was stopped for 'acting suspiciously' even before they had chance), before admitting that section 60 is controversial. "It's not very popular, but it works".

Moving down to city square, people were getting ready for the arrival of the fash. The air was noticibly more tense as the police began to grow in numbers and cameras were unloaded from an unmarked BBC van with a satellite dish on the roof. We asked what they were hoping to film, to which they replied they probably wouldn't be broadcasting any coverage unless fighting broke out, and that they were there "just in case". Groups of Antifa activists, clearly and respectably unwilling to be penned in to the "official protest areas" milled about the nearby streets.

Heading back to the library, the numbers were beginning to swell and speakers tried to address the crowd from the steps. A police electronic billboard that had been erected circled in the background with the words "face coverings must not be worn".

A sudden surge of police to block off the Headrow marked the arrival of a few hundred marchers with anarchist flags, seemingly from the Woodhose area of Leeds, being kettled into formation by several rows of police. Scuffles broke out as people tried to break through the lines towards the EDL pen by the station. At least one person was seperated from the crowd and arrested, and police struggled as a flare was lit and the crowd surged forwards, before eventually being pushed back into the barriers at the library.

Once things had calmed down a little, we headed back down Park Row to await the arrival of the EDL from the station. Wheras the Library end of the street was heavily policed, there were noticably fewer at the City Square end at this time. Eventually, a rush of police horses to the station and the distant chanting of "In-ger-land" and other football terrace chants marked the arrival of the fascists, to be held near the bus stops until the police cleared the streets.

Antifascists lined the barriers outside the church, waved flags and shouted "Nazis!", only to be seperated off and silenced by the police who allowed the racist chanting on the other side of the road to continue. A mass of shaven headed people in football shirts stood amongst the antifascists on the side of the road, jeering and shouting support for the EDL, but soon backed off when confonted. Eventually, the EDL, numbering about 150, were penned in city square where they waved st Georges flags and chanted anti muslim slogans, bouncing up and down on the spot as they did so.

And so began the next few hours of the police battling to keep the two groups apart. Whilst the EDL seemed quite happy to drink lager and shout slurred, racist chants, many attempts were made by the anarchist antifascists to break out of the Library pen in numbers, only to be pushed back by both the police and the UAF stewards who were shouting over the megaphone "We have to stay and defend the library". Who they were intending to defend it from is anybody's guess as the fascists were quite happily swaying down the road. Occasionally, a small group of fascists would attempt to make their way to the library, only to be chased down by Antifa activists and spirited away back to their pen by the police to chants of "Police protect the fascists".

The police say 'no masks', yet many of the EDL are masked up
Eventually, at about 3pm, the police surged into city square in large numbers and riot gear and began to push bystanders back to create an area of clear roads around city square. Whilst many hoped that they were finally going to deal with the racist chanting, 2 coaches arrived and the EDL dutifully got on board, leaving the square strewn with beer cans. Antifascists tried to get through, but instead dispersed in small groups to track down groups of skinheads who had slipped away to nearby pubs, most notably Yates's wine bar which had an EDL flag hung up in the window.

Back at the library, groups of frustrated demonstrators attempted to leave the pen chanting "We want to march!", only to be pushed back by a combination of the police and the UAF stewards, still seemingly trying to rally people to "defend the library", despite the fact that the EDL were now sat on 2 coaches and without the stomach to even try. This seemed to be causing tension, and the police were stopping any groups from leaving the pen. A group which had got through, reformed and attempted to break through on Infirmary street were pushed back into the pen by police with batons.

With crowds dispersing, batteries dead and the main throng of fascists gone, we boarded a train and headed back to Bradford, the main impression of the day left in me being that the police seemed to have gone to extraordinary lengths to silence the antifascists, whilst giving the EDL centre stage. Looking at the "Gypsy/Traveller - y/n" section of my yellow slip, I tried to imagine why.

Jim Dog
Northern Indymedia

A long view - July to October

13 Comment (s)
This article was submitted by one of our readers, Iliacus. We welcome any contributions from our supporters (as long as those contributions conform to the law and are in reasonably good taste). Please send your articles to us via email.

In among all the hype and hoopla following the appearance of some bloke from the BNP on some late-night television programme, I thought it would be interesting to review BNP performance over the past few months, from the beginning of July (as the effects of the Euro elections started to ease off) to the end of October.

During that period there were no fewer than 94 local authority byelections; the BNP fought 26 (28%). There is some evidence that their ability to field candidates has weakened. In July they fought eight seats out of twenty-three (35%); in August 2/9 (22%); September 8/24 (33%); October 8/38 (21%). Perhaps eight is their magic number above which they cannot climb!

Seventeen of the 94 wards had seen a BNP candidate at a recent previous election. No fewer than seven of these were abandoned at the byelection, a very significant feature, and which underlines one of the party's greatest weaknesses - its inability to maintain activist interest and commitment. In three of these wards they had previously polled in excess of 14% of the vote, so it's not just a case of walking away from hopeless areas.

There are therefore ten seats in which a comparison can be made with their performance in (normally) the preceding election. In nine of these their vote share fell. The only exception was the rather unusual Boston byelection on 15th October where their vote share leapt from 20.6% in June to 37.7% in October. They may well have benefitted from the unusual circumstances of the vacancy, and the withdrawal of UKIP and a local Independent Group from the fray (who had taken 15.6% in June), but it still represented a good night for the BNP and a worryingly close result for the rest of us (they finished just 16 votes adrift of the victorious Conservative candidate).

That, however, was the only good news for the BNP. In every other contest their share of the vote fell. I have illustrated this by listing the percentage of vote share retained (PVSR). It is easier to give an example than to define this idea. If they previously took 40% and now took 20% then the PVSR would be 50; if they polled 10% then the PVSR would be 25. An increased share of the vote would give a PVSR of 100+. I have used this technique rather than the more usual change in vote share as the latter is difficult to set in context. Under change in vote share a fall from 28% to 23% 'looks' the same as 10% to 5%, whereas it's actually a very different outcome.

So, excluding the Boston result (PVSR 183!), the PVSR in the remaining nine seats was: 58 54 64 53 46 42 62 59 77

In only one case did their vote share fall by less than a quarter; in two cases their vote share fell by more than half. On average they lost 43% of their vote share in these wards. The samples are pretty small, but the general trend is of performance worsening from July into September, then recovering in October. Whether this recovery is real and sustainable remains to be seen.

They contested 16 'new' seats over the five month period. Looking at some old notes I found that in February 2009 they averaged 22% in 'new' seats (boosted by the extraordinary 41% - and seat gained - in Swanley). The highest share of the vote achieved in a first-time seat in the July to October period was 13.6%! In eight of the wards - precisely half of them - they polled under 10%. A rolling average, based on the five most recent examples, shows a drift downward from 10.5% at the end of July to 9.3% at the end of October.

And so to the seven 'abandoned' seats - wards previously contested, but in which no byelection candidate was fielded. One of these was an inner-city Birmingham seat at which they had previously polled a miserable 1.5% so withdrawal might indicate a rare case of political sense! But in the other six cases only one had a previous vote share under 10%, and three had recorded vote shares between 14 and 16%.

Now I shall leave it to my readers to interpret the above as they see fit, but I feel it indicates a poor summer and early autumn for the BNP. I also feel there are some useful 'benchmarks' against which the party's progress (or regress hopefully!) can be assessed, and I shall suggest the following:
a) percentage of byelections contested each month Oct 09 21%
ai) two-month rolling average Sep/Oct 26%
b) rate of contesting previously fought seats each month Oct 09 50%
c) percentage share of the vote retained (past 10 byelections but excluding the best and the worst to avoid being affected by 'freak' results under special circumstances) Oct 09 59%
d) rolling average (past 5 results) of vote share in 'new' wards Oct 09 9.3%
e) rolling average (past 5 results) of vote share in 'abandoned' seats Oct 09 11.1%
The purpose of a and ai is hopefully obvious; b assesses their ability to continue to maintain activist involvement by contesting elections; c assesses performance in areas of sustained activity; d assesses progress - or otherwise - in opening up new areas; e indicates the effects of member disenchantment, and whether they are simply standing down in weak areas, or struggling in areas of past strength.

Good news - from our perspective - would be to see a) ai) b) c) and d) all falling, and e) rising. Anyway, I shall look forward to updating these figures in due course to see whether it does give us a useful tool in assessing their performance.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the overall BNP performance across the five months was: No Holds, no Gains, one Loss - overall minus 1 seat. Happy days!

What does the Serbian wife think of her husband...the BNP's biggest donor?

3 Comment (s)
Multicultural marriage: Charles Vernon Wentworth,
the BNP's largest cash donor - and Eastern European wife Zorka

His family's power and influence may have waned since the days when they owned great swathes of England, and a castle and country estates were named in their honour. In his Suffolk manor, however, Charles Vernon Wentworth, 52, millionaire scion of an aristocratic clan dating back to the Domesday Book, still carries considerable clout.

His inherited wealth includes a 660-acre farm in Friston - a pretty hamlet of pink-washed cottages and narrow lanes. The village green and meeting hall also belong to him, so parishioners must seek his permission to stage fairs and other events there, just like commoners of old.

Inevitably, Mr Wentworth's importance makes him the subject of much local gossip; and the fact that he is a rather reclusive, enigmatic figure who has been married three times and habitually goes unshaven and wears scruffy old clothes only adds to the air of intrigue that surrounds him. Tongues were wagging again this week when newly-released documents revealed him to be the British National Party's most generous benefactor, having reportedly donated some £38,000 to Nick Griffin and his extreme Right-wing cronies in recent years.

'Fancy him supporting that lot - he's a disgrace to the Wentworths,' sniffed one long-time resident, who declined to be named for fear of offending the man who also funds the annual children's Christmas party.

Others were astounded, pointing out that their timeless rural idyll is hardly an obvious breeding ground for the politics of fear and bigotry. Most people here are relatively well-off, crime is virtually unknown (according to one parish councillor, there have been two burglaries in 25 years) and ASBOs are something you only read about in the Ipswich newspapers. Furthermore, Friston appears to be the exclusively white Anglo-Saxon community of Griffin's dreams. Among those residents I spoke to this week, no one could think of a single person among its 300-odd inhabitants who comes from an ethnic minority.

Clearly, then, they don't know much about their own squire's new bride. For, by the deepest of ironies, the Mail has discovered that the latest lady in the Wentworth manor is of Eastern European extraction.

Strolling along a damp autumnal lane in her Wellingtons and padded jacket this week, her pet Doberman straining at the leash, the wife of the BNP's arch-backer looked every inch the English landowner's wife. Yet the maiden name of 39-year-old Zorka Wentworth was Ilic. Her mother is from Kosovo, her late father Serbian. Having fled to Britain in the 1950s to escape the tyrannical communism of Yugoslavia under Tito, they were precisely the sort of immigrants who would be barred from entering the country if Griffin had his way.

Although she was born in Bedfordshire, Zorka considers herself half-English and half-Serb, speaks with a very slight Eastern European accent (presumably because she was raised to be bilingual), is Serb Orthodox by religion and celebrates both Serbian and English festivals. This kind of duality would hardly be welcomed in Griffin's ethnically sanitised Utopia. After all, during last week's Question Time debacle, the BNP leader described white Britons as 'aboriginals': English, Scots, Irish and Welsh people 'who have been here for the last 17,000 years'.

Ludicrously, Mrs Wentworth - who met her husband eight years ago, when she was working as a chef in the local pub, and became his third wife last year - would not even be permitted to join the party her husband bankrolls so generously.

Charles and Zorka Wentworth are evidently struggling to see the irony. Talking to the BNP's most unlikely darling couple this week, over cups of tea in their stylish country kitchen, I began to understand why. They seem far removed from the hate-filled BNP rabble-rousers who wave banners in Northern mill towns. And as Mr Wentworth remarks wryly, he is no 'knuckle-dragging' skinhead.

Yet they give the distinct impression that they don't know nearly enough about Griffin and his racially divisive policies, even though Mr Wentworth says he read 'the bulk of' the party's manifesto before opening his cheque-book. 'Is it really £38,000? I thought it was £28,000, but I can't recall. I don't keep personal bank records.'

Does he support them, then, because he has some longstanding connection with Griffin, who was raised just a few miles away in Suffolk and attended fee-paying Woodbridge School, where two of Wentworth's four children were educated? The squire scratches a stubbly chin and ponders. No, he replies, he wasn't acquainted with the BNP leader until they were introduced at a party rally a few years ago.

'I was smoking one of these, and Griffin didn't like it,' he grins, pointing to his hand-rolled cigarette. 'Nick hates smoking.'

But why was he at the rally in the first place? What common ground does he share with Griffin? He grins again and continues: 'I think the death penalty for serious crimes is an issue. I don't know how that would go down in a referendum. But for the likes of the Harold Shipmans, and serial rapists and killers, I would like to see it re-introduced.'

A short, square-built man with a complexion which suggests he enjoys his wine (Serbian reds are a favourite), and a sardonic wit, Mr Wentworth shoots his wife a meaningful glance, then adds: 'And obviously you are going to ask me about immigration.'

His five-figure donation is all the more surprising given his experiences as a young man in the United States. After leaving public school, he went travelling there and his girlfriend fell pregnant. Needing a job to support her, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served for four years. This was long before 9/11 and he says they had a policy of actively enlisting foreigners. He says he formed friendships with several Hispanic servicemen. And later, when he left the military and lived on the West Coast (he worked for a U.S. pest control company before returning to his Suffolk estate), he also saw how multiculturalism worked.

But why, if he accepts it works over there, would it not work here?

'America is historically a melting pot, isn't it?' he says, adding that its vast size meant it was better able to accommodate people of diverse nationalities. In contrast, he argues, this country is too crowded a nation to cope with an influx of foreigners. He recites the familiar argument about Britain being 'overloaded'; and since none of the other parties seems willing to pull up the drawbridge, he has joined, and funded, the BNP.

'I'm not vile or odious - the adjectives they always attach to the BNP. I don't agree with everything they're saying on this, but I'm sure you get die-hard Labour supporters who don't agree with every policy their party has. Or Liberals or Tories.'

Zorka interjects: 'He's not a racist; I'm not a racist. I know the man here. He's not a Nazi.'

Perhaps not, but how can he possibly fund a party who would have turned away his refugee parents-in-law, and possibly his wife?

'I don't think they would send her back home,' he says uneasily, then, almost in the next breath, admits that he is not 'completely au fait' with BNP immigration policy.

'As far as I'm concerned, if anyone's here legally, I think they should be allowed to stay. They're not going to send her back home and neither will I.'

The new Mrs Wentworth grasps her husband's hand and smiles at him. She has met 'Nick', she says, and found him charming. In any case, she and her parents aren't the type of Eastern Europeans he wants to see the back of.

'You can't tar everyone with the same brush,' she argues, seemingly unaware that the average BNP thug, who lives in a very different Britain from the one she has married into, does precisely that.

'My father got a job in the brickworks at 16 and worked hard all his life. My mother came here at 14 and, at just turned 70, she has only just retired. They never claimed benefits in their lives, and worked to make this country better. They aren't the same as the influx who have come here since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and still come here now, demanding mobile phones and houses. A lot of them are Bosnian Muslims, but there are also Croats and Serbs. They are so-called asylum seekers and refugees, but they are a lot of s*** basically. They just came over to milk the country.'

Sensing that she is going too far, she catches herself and adds: 'Not all of them, obviously.'

Soon, though, she is sounding off again. 'Britain has huge problems - with everything. I find it absolutely frightening. Youngsters nowadays terrify me; you only have to pick up your newspaper every day.'

Does she have some first-hand experience of this? Do muggers lurk in the hollyhocks?

'No, no - but we are lucky to live in a tranquil part of the country,' she says. 'Others are not so fortunate.'

My morning with the Wentworths left me perplexed. Since I find their politics so abhorrent and worryingly ill-informed, I had expected to despise them. When the conversation moves away from politics, however, they turn out to be a rather engaging pair. Mrs Wentworth has taught her husband some Serbian, and over a traditional Serb dinner - made with their home-grown vegetables - they sometimes converse in her language.

He is also knowledgeable about Balkan history, reminding me that the Serbs were among Britain's greatest allies during the War and how thousands were slaughtered by the Nazis. (Just how this squares with Griffin's admiration for Hitler, he struggles to explain.)

There is much that is decent about Charles Wentworth and his 'alien' wife, too. Each night, they invite the old man who lives alone nearby into their home for supper. And in addition to funding a Christmas party for every child in the village, Mr Wentworth has purchased much of the play equipment on the village green - anonymously, so as not to make a fuss. Given his charitable nature, and his readiness to embrace her family's customs and traditions, it comes as no surprise to hear that Zorka's mother 'adores Charles', as did her late father.

Clearly, theirs is a model multicultural marriage - one whose very success makes a nonsense of the BNP's opposition to the mingling of races, ethnicities and cultures. This reinforces one's impression that the couple, though not by nature malevolent, are dangerously naive and that - in the absence of persuasive policies from the main parties - the BNP are playing on their fears to maximum effect.

Judging by the names listed among the party's major financial backers this week, other unlikely figures are falling into the same trap. They include Plymouth widow Mrs Sheila Butler, the 83-year-old greatniece of World War I hero Lord Horatio Kitchener, who has donated her £11,032 savings to the BNP, because, she told me: 'Nick Griffin is a patriot - like my great-uncle.'

She said she had abandoned the Tories, and then UKIP, because 'I don't like it that most people [here] are brown, yellow or green these days', and the BNP was the only party that promised to recreate Britain as the country of her youth.

Another prominent donor is Kent fruit farmer Adam Champneys, who is reported to have given the BNP £15,000 in the past year alone. He is battling a serious illness and was unavailable for comment this week. However, like Charles Wentworth and Kitchener's great-niece, this accomplished pilot and antiques collector, who served in the Intelligence Corps, is far removed from the disaffected, down-at-heel rabble one normally associates with the BNP.

Whether or not we believe the BNP's spin doctors when they claim that membership inquiries have soared on a wave of public sympathy after Griffin's Question Time mauling, it would be foolish to ignore their broadening appeal. For when a wealthy English landowner places one hand around the shoulder of his new Eastern European bride and with the other signs a £38,000 cheque to a party who would banish her from the country of her birth, we should all feel more than a little worried.

Mail Online

Bercow breaks convention to attack BNP

1 Comment (s)
He swept to office on the back of a promise to break with tradition. But John Bercow, the Speaker of the Commons, has been accused of taking his shake-up of the role too far after he unleashed an attack on the British National Party.

Centuries of political impartiality demanded of the Speaker were rolled back in spectacular fashion by Mr Bercow yesterday, as he described the far-right party as "evil", adding that it was a "poison which we could well do without". It is thought to be the first time that a Speaker has ever launched such an assault on a legal party.

Mr Bercow, who was in the Speaker's chair to oversee the first ever UK Youth Parliament session taking place in the Commons, earned cheers and even a standing ovation from the delegates for his outburst. "I'm under absolutely no obligation whatsoever to be impartial as between the forces of democracy on the one hand and the forces of evil on the other," he said. "I do feel very, very, very strongly as someone from a Jewish background that the evil of the BNP is that its whole politics is based upon and driven by hate. That is a poison which we could well do without."

While the Speaker is always expected to remain independent while overseeing business in the Commons, Mr Bercow may be saved from censure because Parliament was not technically sitting. The ornamental mace, which marks that the Commons is in formal session, was not in place during his comments.

Mr Bercow asked the delegates to reflect on history, during which political extremists had always sought to capitalise on discontent. "The Nazis in Germany in the 30s, and the neo-Nazis today, seek to scapegoat whole communities as they peddle their message of hate and scurrilously appeal for support," he said. "They depend on either ignorance, or apathy. And the counter to ignorance and apathy is education, interest and participation – all of which you have displayed today."

Simon Darby, the deputy leader of the BNP, said the outburst was "quite shocking" and broke the rules of the office of Speaker. "He is meant to be independent and this kind of outburst is quite extraordinary," he said. "We are hopeful of performing well at a general election and if he is still the Speaker, I do not see how he could possibly continue in the role. He has jeopardised his position."

Overseeing the Youth Parliament session, the first time non-MPs have ever been allowed to use the Commons, Mr Bercow said that MPs had been "vindicated" in allowing the chamber to be used by the 300 delegates, who were aged between 12 and 18. More than 100 were given the chance to speak in debates on tuition fees, crime, transport, the economy and the voting age. A small group of Tory backbenchers had tried to block the move.


October 30, 2009

The BNP, migration and the misuse of Christianity

0 Comment (s)
It is now a week since the infamous edition of BBC TV’s Question Time in which Nick Griffin pitted himself against 'mainstream' politicians. Now, the BBC Director General Mark Thompson has indicated that the BNP may appear annually on the programme.

The whole saga was more of a watershed for Question Time than for the BNP’s fortunes. The BBC had a good argument for the invitation and no doubt a less honourable intention bound up with the increasing 'tabloidisation' of news coverage. In this case, the news vendor was the story far more were than the news makers. That said, democracy is democracy and unsavoury views have the right to be aired. On balance, my own view is that they were probably wrong, but it is a balance. So what do we make of it all now?

On the election front, we have to take into account the fact that there may be some limited success for the BNP but this will not be of any significance in the manner of other European countries' experience of the Far Right. The danger is that it has 'taken the eye off the ball' of the isolationist, anti-immigrant yet smooth-talking UKIP.

However, there were two revelations in the programme which continue to play on the mind. The first was the incoherence of the three mainstream politicians on the issue of immigration. Chris Huhne was the most disappointing. He was clearly caught up in the moment in cloaking the best of all the party positions on immigration into the schoolyard “we are tougher than you” debate.

Jack Straw was unable to convince anyone that the Labour government’s tough approach had any impact. It is deeply ironic that Labour is seen as the party of immigration when its United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) is bringing the kind of fear which the BNP would love to be able to spread, directly into our communities.

Baroness Warsi was the most disingenuous. Having told us that we need honesty, she then proceeded to trot out a line which would have us believe that a future Conservative government would cap immigration. That is only possible if we withdraw from the Geneva Convention, Human Rights conventions and the European Union.

Anyone who wants to have a mature debate about the highly complex and extremely nuanced issues of migration in a world of cheap travel, unequal economies, huge investment in arms, persistent and irresolvable conflicts and climate change, needs to worry far more about the three main parties than about the BNP.

The second issue playing on the mind is Nick Griffin’s insistence that the BNP is defending ‘Christian Britain’. It seemed that he was using the word Christian to mean not-Muslim and not-Jewish. His one good word for Islam was that it opposed usury, in this case coded fascist language meaning that Muslims opposed Jews. Like everything that comes out of Nick Griffin’s mouth, this was very chilling, not least for those of us who hold our Christian commitment as something very precious.

So what divides Nick Griffin’s Christianity from mainstream Christianity? It is interesting that it is the more right wing of the Christian church which has leapt to its defence. What differs seems to be the fruit, not the ideology. History tells us that no Christian could sleep safely in a fascist state. However, many Christians, like the BNP, still seem to hold ‘Christian Britain’ as the ideal. They still believe our faith makes us superior to others.

How often are we told that Islam’s problem is that it did not have a reformation or was by-passed by the enlightenment? Christian amnesia fails to remember how many died in the Reformation and how it rent the church apart. It fails to recall that the Enlightenment has weakened our capacity to sense the transcendent. When statehood and faith are inextricably aligned, we cease to tell the narrative of the faith but tell instead the story of the state’s interest cloaked in virtuous language.

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali, writing in the Guardian, argues that Christian missionaries challenged difficult and enslaving cultural practices in many countries and were often, though by no means always, a force for good. That is what happens when one culture meets another. It is possible to see more clearly what is wrong with your own. It is one of the great pay-offs of migration.

The real irony is that as people of other faiths come to the UK, we will experience the same cultural challenges as those posed by previous generations of Christian missionaries. As a simple example, in my own church there is a fear that the children will be bored if they have to spend 10 minutes in the church service before their own activities. God forbid that they should hear the Bible read beautifully or learn to be quiet when they pray. Their Muslim playmates at school will be patiently undergoing the discipline of learning the Qur’an word for word and growing up better for it.

The truth is that in London, at least, the church is an immigrant church. The thousands upon thousands of Christians attending Mass, delighting in Orthodox liturgy and singing praise and worship songs with their well-thumbed Bibles in hand, are migrants. While this is happening, our church leaders are desperate not to defend them from the potential violence and hatred of the BNP, but to defend a privileged place in British society for themslves. Indeed, Lord Carey seems to want to deny their presence in defence of ‘Christian Britain’.

As Christians in Britain (we are not the whole of it!) we have to be faithful to the narrative of our faith. This is a narrative, within the Bible itself, in which the constant struggle between the nomad and the settler is played out. It is a history which tells us that the fruits of faith are indeed totally rotten when it is aligned to power and wealth. It is also one which tells us that the faith is powerful on a world stage when it defends the persecuted and the poor. A little humility is in order.

Christians who are housing undocumented migrants; buying their supermarket vouchers so the UKBA cannot determine what and how people spend their pittances; shouting loud that no civilised state would imprison children, as Britain does, for just being the children of deportees, and yes – “singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land” (as it says in the Psalms) - they, are the answer to Nick Griffin’s crude appropriation of the name ‘Christian’.

By our fruits will we all be known.


Sick of 'trick or treat' Halloween callers?

5 Comment (s)
Frighten the crap out of them with this cut-out-'n'-keep Nick Griffin Halloween horror mask. Free with the current edition of Private Eye.

Celebrate and defend multicultural Leeds this Saturday: protest against the racist EDL

4 Comment (s)
Assemble 12 noon, Saturday 31 October
Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA

Anti-racists, politicians, faith leaders, trade unions and community leaders and have signed the statement opposing the EDL marching in Leeds and calling for unity to celebrate and defend multicultural Leeds. The statement reads:
"We the undersigned strongly oppose plans by the 'English Defence League' - a group linked to the fascist BNP - to demonstrate in Leeds city centre.

"The EDL is a racist group dedicated to attacking Asian people and Muslims. Islamophobia - bigotry against Muslims - is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. Its aim is to divide us by making scapegoats of one community, just as the Nazis did with the Jews in the 1930s.

"Today they threaten the mosque, tomorrow it could be a synagogue, temple or church. Today they threaten Muslims, tomorrow it could be Jewish people, Hindus, Sikhs, black people, lesbians & gay men, travellers or Eastern Europeans.

"There is no place for Nazis, racists or the BNP in Leeds multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious community. We call on the Home Secretary and the police to ban the EDL action. We also urge people to attend the peaceful 'Celebrate and defend multicultural Leeds' rally to be held outside the Art Gallery on Saturday 31st October at midday."
Organisations backing the statement include Yorkshire & Humberside TUC, Yorkshire & Humberside UCU, Leeds TUC and Yorkshire & Humberside UAF.


British hypnotherapists challenge BNP leader Nick Griffin to seek a 'cure' for racism

1 Comment (s)
The National Council for Hypnotherapy in the UK has challenged BNP leader Nick Griffin to see if hypnotherapy can 'cure' his 'racism'.

A press release from the Council states:
The ongoing furore over the appearance by British National Party leader Nick Griffin on the BBC’s Question Time has once again brought racism to the forefront of news headlines.

Racism is perceived to be at the very heart of the British National Party. It appears to be racism that separates it from any other political party; and it seems to be racism that attracts many of its members. Whilst the party has tried, in recent times, to tone down the words, the message is apparently unchanged.
The Council thinks it might have a solution. Here's what they say:
"...The key to reducing racial bias — at least in a short-term, laboratory setting — is exposure to people in personalised ways that challenge stereotypes. And this is where hypnotherapy can play an important role.

Healing by a ‘cognitive’ set of attitudes and motivations (or an altered state of awareness) is among the oldest phenomena known to man and is found, in one form or another, in virtually every culture throughout the world. It could also be legitimately described as the original psychological therapy and somewhat more contentiously, as the basis for many of the more recent styles of psychological intervention."
Here's the rest of the press release:

So, what is racism and can it be “cured”?

Now that Barack Obama, the first African-American president in United States history has taken office, researchers have shown that it may be possible to scientifically reduce racial bias.

The results are still preliminary and the real-world effects of reducing bias in a controlled laboratory setting are not clear. But despite this, the findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that science can battle racism.
"Any time you can get people to treat people as individuals, you reduce the effect of stereotypes," said Brown University cognitive scientist Michael Tarr. "It won’t solve racism, but it could have profound real-world effects."
Tarr’s findings overlap with other results suggesting that the key to reducing racial bias — at least in a short-term, laboratory setting — is exposure to people in personalised ways that challenge stereotypes. And this is where hypnotherapy can play an important role.

Healing by a ‘cognitive’ set of attitudes and motivations (or an altered state of awareness) is among the oldest phenomena known to man and is found, in one form or another, in virtually every culture throughout the world. It could also be legitimately described as the original psychological therapy and somewhat more contentiously, as the basis for many of the more recent styles of psychological intervention.

Although such altered states have been known for thousands of years, the term ‘hypnosis’ (from the Greek ‘hypnos’, meaning ‘sleep’) was only coined in 1841 by James Braid, a Scottish surgeon and remains a somewhat less than accurate description of the experience, as the hypnotic state is, in most respects, entirely dissimilar to sleep. He defined hypnotism as focused conscious attention on a single dominant idea or mental image, accompanied by heightened expectation.

Renowned psychologist Hans Eysenck found that, by means of careful statistical analysis, measures from many hundreds of subjects indicated those who suffered from phobia, anxiety, depression, and related problems, tended to be considerably more responsive to hypnotic suggestion than average.

This includes people perceived to be racist. He also discovered that cognitive-behavioural therapy could change racist views and other prejudices in a large sample of another study.

What is racism really? Is it a fear, a phobia or associated with certain personality types?

Often it is the result of one’s attitudes towards others which are formed during childhood. If someone is taught to be racist from an early age by a family member, for example, these attitudes are likely to stick with the person throughout their life. Often racists are unable to explain why they hate people of a different skin colour, nationality or culture. Racists commonly use people of different ethnic backgrounds as ‘scapegoats’ on whom to blame their problems and make sweeping generalisations about these groups of people.

Often the best way of explaining these types of phenomena is to draw distinction between ‘feelings’ (emotions) and cognitive processes; is it indeed the case that racists feel threatened, feel hatred and they feel an innate superiority to other ethnic groups and it is these feelings that make racists able to make sweeping generalisations without supporting evidence or intellectual rigor.

Hypnotherapy, recognised by the British Medical Association as a valid modern medical treatment since 1955, can be used to modify a subject's emotional content, behaviour, and attitudes, as well as a wide range of conditions like dysfunctional habits, anxiety, stress-related illness and pain management.

Eysenck wrote an important analysis of experimental data on hypnotic suggestion in his book Dimensions of Personality (published 1947). The fifth chapter, ‘Suggestibility and Hypnosis’, looks at evidence relating to the classification of different types of suggestion and the relationship between suggestibility and personality types.

His research led him to conclude that it was necessary to make a distinction between two main factors or types of suggestion. And he found a third.

He said primary suggestion, associated with traditional hypnosis, was a direct command or instruction given to the subject in which the response desired is explicitly stated. In essence, it is the power of mind over body. Secondary suggestion, he says, is suggestion by indirection or indirect methods, leading to a manipulation of the subject’s beliefs and expectations.
Then Eysenck adds a third category, prestige suggestion.

This form of suggestion employs the authority, charisma, or ‘prestige’ of the hypnotherapist to influence the client.

Many experimental studies demonstrate the tendency of individuals to imitate the attitudes and opinions of others whom they admire or identify with. The prestige, traditionally attached by many to medical practitioners whom they trust, can lead to a social compliance and suggestibility.

In a study on the causes and cures of prejudice using 6,796 male subjects aged between 45 and 55, Eysenck and other researchers found that all sources of prejudice correlated positively together and that each was related to personality.

Importantly, the team found that attempts to change personality through a type of cognitive behaviour therapy led to significant changes in prejudice.

While it took more than two hundred years for hypnotherapy to become incorporated into medical treatment, modern trends show a greater acceptance of this treatment. Only three years after Britain recognised hypnotherapy as a valid medical treatment, the American Medical Association gave its approval in 1958. The challenge now would be for Nick Griffin to perhaps visit a qualified hypnotherapist and seek a “cure”…

The National Council for Hypnotherapy is the UK’s largest independent, not-for-profit governing body for Hypnotherapy practitioners. The high standards it requires for membership ensures that all of our therapists must have achieved a certain level of training and demonstrated competence in practice. In addition all our members are bound by a strict Code of Ethics & Practice, which includes the requirement for Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Irish Medical Times

Couple's poppy protest against BNP

6 Comment (s)
There will be no Remembrance Day poppies in the Custance household this year. Jenefer Custance, 57, and her husband Terry, 59, say they will not be donating when a Royal British Legion collector calls at their home in Western Avenue, Henley. They are protesting at the legion’s decision to accept a donation from the British National Party.

Mrs Custance, a shop assistant in Henley, said: "I was so shocked and angry when I read that the British Legion had accepted a donation from the BNP. It is dirty money. The BNP is a racist organisation and accepting money from it is disrespectful to all the men and women, whatever colour or creed, who have served, or are serving, or have died fighting for their country. We have always supported the Poppy Appeal but this year we will not be buying any. All charities are desperate for money but I cannot understand what the Legion is thinking in allowing this to happen."

The British Legion accepted a donation from a member of the BNP after earlier this year distancing itself from the party. The cash was raised by Rachel Firth, who spent 24 hours in a cardboard box collecting donations to draw attention to former soldiers who are forced to sleep rough. The sum she raised has not been disclosed but she donated half to the party and half to the Legion.

Mr Custance, a print industry salesman, said: "It beggar’s belief they have done this. I am sure the vast majority of the British people and members of the British Legion will be appalled when they learn of this donation." He added: "Although we won’t be buying poppies, we will be giving a donation to Help for Heroes."

In June, the legion took out a full-page advert in a national paper, accusing BNP leader Nick Griffin of politicising the poppy and asked him to stop wearing it. The party has also been accused of exploiting the donation by publicising it on its website.

Brigadier Malcolm Page, chairman of Henley branch of the Royal British Legion, said the issue had been dealt with by the legion’s head office. He added: "I think that by donating this couple will not be hurting the BNP but will not be helping veterans. I hope for their sake that Mrs Custance reconsiders.

Henley Standard

BNP activist charged with explosives and firearms offences

7 Comment (s)
David Lucas, leading BNP activist and all-round nutjob
A leading British National Party activist and Suffolk farmer has been charged by police with a number of explosives and firearms offences.

David Lucas, 49, who once caused controversy for building gallows and selling them to African countries with poor human rights records, was charged yesterdayfollowing his arrest in April. Lucas, of South Road in Lakenheath, stood as one of the eastern region British National Party (BNP) candidates for the European elections in June. He is also a Lakenheath parish councillor.

He has been charged with possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances, possession of an explosives substance without an explosives licence, possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life, possession of ammunition without a firearms certificate and two counts of possession of prohibited ammunition. The charge of possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances can only be brought by police with the authorisation of the Attorney General.

But last night the BNP accused Suffolk Constabulary of persecuting Lucas because he stood for the far-right party. Simon Darby, the deputy leader of the BNP, said Lucas' “troubles” started after he was announced as a candidate for the European election.

“I think the police have got it in for him,” he said. “I would imagine that it is to do with his capacity as an agricultural rural chap. It is just one of the many things that ordinary rural people have to deal with when you have got a politically motivated police force. Obviously if he needs help we will give him that but we will have to see how it pans out. He had a very successful business there and a big market on his farm so he is very well thought of in the area.”

Lucas caused controversy in 2006 when it emerged he was building gallows for export. The execution equipment he sold ranged from single gallows, at about £12,000 each, to “Multi-hanging Execution Systems” mounted on lorry trailers, costing about £100,000. He also allowed the BNP's eastern region to use his barns for a local 'Battle for Britain' fundraising event in the run-up to the European elections.

Last night, David Gathercole, chairman of Lakenheath Parish Council, said he could not comment on the charges against Lucas. But he said: “Unless he is found guilty, he is still an innocent man and can still sit on the parish council.”

Lucas is due before West Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Bury St Edmunds on November 10.


Outrage as BNP hijacks South Wales VE Day photograph

2 Comment (s)
Former residents of a South Wales street have hit out at the BNP for “hijacking” a picture of their VE Day party

Family members were shocked to see the photograph of the event in Cromwell Street, Merthyr Tydfil, used as a backdrop by the far-right party at an event in Manchester. They have now called on BNP leader Nick Griffin to apologise for using the image and to stop using the picture in publicity.

It is not the first time the BNP has been attacked for using a wartime image. It was previously accused of attempting to “hijack” the reputation of the military by using images of Spitfires and caused outrage by claiming that Winston Churchill would join the British National Party if he were alive today.

The Cromwell Street image appeared in the background when BNP leader Mr Griffin addressed a media conference at a Manchester pub in June, days after he was elected as MEP for the North West of England. The 1945 picture had been superimposed on a backdrop for Mr Griffin, and emblazoned with BNP and VE DAY. It wasn’t until after the picture was printed in a national newspaper that people in Merthyr became aware of its use by the party.

Irate former headteacher and ex-serviceman Lyn Perkins was reading the article when he spotted what he thought was a familiar face in the foreground. As he took a closer look he also recognised the street. Mr Perkins, now 82, had enlisted in the Navy, aged 17, two months before the war ended.

“I suppose there are many people in this photograph still alive and there must be lots of people who, like me, would be incensed that the photograph was used in support of the BNP,” he said. “I was looking at it and thought ‘Good gracious. I’m sure I know that girl’ and that’s what made me look at it more closely. I would think most of the people in that photograph would not want to be associated with the BNP. I certainly think there should be an apology from Nick Griffin.”

When Malcolm Sweet, 66, who was at the party as a small boy, saw the representation for the first time he said: “I think it’s a total disgrace that the BNP has done this. I certainly don’t agree with Nick Griffin’s politics. My mother and father are also in the picture but are obscured by him. I’d like to know where they got this.”

Alan George’s mother Phyllis can be seen on the extreme left and sister Brenda is second from left on the left-hand bench.

“I’ve seen the picture used before but I really don’t like this,” said Mr George, 64, who runs an Old Merthyr picture archive website. “I’m pretty much disgusted. I don’t like anything the BNP do or represent. I think an apology is in order. They should not use it as part of any campaign and should withdraw it.”

And sister Brenda Prosser, 68, said: “I find it offensive. The BNP has now hijacked our street party. I don’t particularly like the idea of being associated even in this way with the BNP. I don’t like their politics.”

But BNP spokesman John Walker defended the use and was adamant the BNP would not apologise for using it.

“This was a grainy black and white photo, which was only partly visible because it was used with logos over it,” he said. “It was a representation of the wartime theme that we used to great effect as part of our European election campaign which we called The Battle for Britain Campaign. The BNP was not even in existence when these photographs were taken. So how could there be any suggestion that these people could be associated? How could anyone infer that from a photo taken in 1945?

“Do people expect the BNP to have to try to trace every single person in a grainy old photograph from 1945? It’s a ridiculous proposition and people should just see this for what it was. It was a representation of the wartime spirit . It doesn’t imply any of these people would support the BNP 70 years later. Most of the people must be dead to be honest, all the adults would be. At the end of the day we are not going to stop using it and not going to apologise. We just see this as another pathetic attack against the BNP.”

Wales Online

October 29, 2009

YouGov enters election 'close' period

4 Comment (s)
YouGov's official response to the unsuccessful attempt by a party to influence the outcome of our polls

YouGov enters election 'close' period

There have been reports in parts of the blogosphere that certain YouGov members have been attempting to recruit BNP members to the YouGov panel, in order to influence the results of polls and generate revenue for the BNP. Here is YouGov’s response to these reports.

YouGov actively recruits the majority of our panel using a variety of techniques, although self-signup and referrals from other members are also possible. We constantly monitor the profile of new panel members, and track differences in survey results, to ensure that our panel is representative, and to protect the quality and integrity of our data. Moreover, YouGov’s sampling methods ensure that new members who sign themselves up cannot have a statistically significant impact on any YouGov polling results.

As a further test, YouGov has examined the results of the survey conducted after BBC Question Time poll. The survey, of 1314 electors, included 156 who had joined our panel since May 2009. This covers the period when, it is claimed, BNP bloggers advised party members to join our panel. Of these 156, just one respondent said they would vote BNP in a general election. Any attempts to infiltrate YouGov's panel with the aim of increasing the BNP's reported support have plainly failed. We are not surprised: the number and characteristics of people joining the panel since May have been no different from normal.

Nevertheless, to put the issue beyond doubt, and in line with our practice at the last general election, we had already started a "close" period, during which no new self-signups or member referrals to YouGov will be invited to take part in political polls. This "close" period started on September 1 and will last until after the election.

Any panel member who acts, or entices others to act, in a way that seeks to distort our data violates our rules. We apply various techniques to detect such actions and remove offenders from our panel. In practice the impact of this is statistically insignificant; but we consider it vital to take all possible steps to protect the quality and integrity of our data, and so maintain our record as Britain's most accurate survey research agency.

Peter Kellner

Boggart of the BNP falls

4 Comment (s)
Anyone who has read the Harry Potter books will know how to deal with a boggart*.

Boggarts are creatures that reveal themselves to you in the shape of your greatest fear. If you hate spiders they will appear as a six-foot tarantula, and if you hate racism they will look like Nick Griffin of the BNP. The way to deal with a boggart is to use the Riddikulus spell. You point your wand at the creature and think of something really funny.

I think the nation must have been using the Riddikulus spell last Thursday night when the BNP leader joined the BBC Question Time panel. To me, the man lost a lot of his menace and by the end of the programme was more a figure of fun than a serious threat to British politics.

He came across as a bumbling fool. There were moments when he made a little sense but they were few and far between. Most of the time he denied any quotes attributed to him, backtracked on everything he had ever said and laughed, apparently at his own inability to answer questions. He didn’t want to comment on his Holocaust denial, he said, because European law made it illegal to do so. There was some laughter when Jack Straw, the Justice Minister, gave him permission to expound his theory without fear of prosecution. He then admitted that he used to deny the Holocaust but now he believed it because he had listened to recordings of some intercepted radio messages from Germany during the war.

What this tells me is that he is slow; he has finally taken on board an historic fact that everyone else knew 60 years ago. He had previously said that the Jews who spoke of the Holocaust were like the people who once thought the world was flat. I wonder when Nick Griffin discovered that it was not flat? Did someone intercept a message from Neil Armstrong on the moon? The alternative, forgive me for suggesting it, is that he is lying through his teeth.

Last Friday’s papers, television and radio were full of reports of the programme that created such controversy and trebled Question Time’s viewing audience. Some suggested that Griffin had been bullied. I didn’t see evidence of that. He was given plenty of opportunity to answer questions but seemed unable to do so. All he did was smirk, laugh and nod his head vigorously as though to show he agreed with all reasonably minded people. The bulk of the questions related to BNP attitudes, but Griffin must have known that would be the case. I laughed at Griffin, but perhaps that was the wrong response. Perhaps that could lull me into a false sense of security because, when all is said and done, this man is selling a message of hate wrapped in a parcel of fear.

Should Griffin have been allowed on Question Time? Yes he should. Our rules of democracy say that if a political party reaches a certain threshold they are entitled to be heard. And, on balance, I thought having him on TV might have done some good because he did not come across well. He tried to sound moderate, when moderation is certainly not something that he wears with any comfort.

I hate what the BNP stands for because I have lived in racist societies and seen what destruction they cause. But I also hate the fact that so many of their rank and file members are afraid to stand up and be counted.

I have had several anonymous letters from BNP members but on a recent occasion I was impressed to get a letter through the door at work that had been signed, with an address given. Unfortunately the address was just a couple of doors away from a colleague of mine who knew the owners of the house who certainly did not go under the name given.

If the BNP is a moderate party seeking only what is best for the citizens of Britain, why are so many members scurrying around in the shadows? Why are they so afraid to stand up and be counted?

Times and Star

*Or indeed, a bogart, which was how boggart was spelled in the article.

Poll: BNP leader Nick Griffin 'lied' over Holocaust

4 Comment (s)
More than two in three Britons believe Nick Griffin is a Holocaust denier despite the BNP leader’s claim to the contrary during his controversial Question Time appearance.

In a poll conducted exclusively for the JC by YouGov this week, 1,409 adults were asked if they were convinced by Griffin’s belated acceptance of the Holocaust. Sixty-nine per cent responded that “Griffin is still at heart a Holocaust denier and only pretends to have changed his views to make the BNP appear more moderate”.

Just 14 per cent agreed that Griffin now genuinely acknowledged that the Shoah did take place. Among Labour and Lib-Dem voters, four out of five said Griffin still denied the Holocaust. YouGov also asked whether British Jews had “reason to be fearful if the BNP gained significantly in strength”. Fifty-four per cent responded that Jews would have cause for fear — with the figure rising to 64 per cent among Londoners polled. Seventy-two per cent said Muslims should fear a more powerful BNP.

The responses demonstrate that the BNP has failed to achieve the hoped-for bounce from Griffin’s slot on Question Time, which attracted a record eight million viewers.

YouGov president Peter Kellner was surprised that “such a big majority thought Griffin was still a Holocaust denier”. It showed that attempts to convince voters that he believed in the Holocaust, and was a friend of Israel, had failed. “However, a lot of people still support what the BNP stands for.” If its support reached 10 per cent, it could become a serious and divisive political force.

In an earlier poll for the Daily Telegraph, YouGov found that 66 per cent of Britons would not under any circumstances consider voting BNP in a local, general or European election. Only four per cent would “definitely consider voting BNP”. Asked for their views on a variety of fringe parties, 71 per cent expressed negative opinions about the BNP, as opposed to two per cent who were “very positive” and seven per cent who were “fairly positive”.

Community and anti-racist leaders were split over the impact made by Griffin on Question Time. Veteran anti-fascist Gerry Gable said it had served to wake up the many who might have been persuaded that the BNP had reformed.

Holocaust Educational Trust chairman Lord Janner felt Griffin had come across badly, “but the fact of his appearance has given status to the BNP, which in the long run could do great harm to the Jewish and other minority communities”.

Jewish Council for Racial Equality director Dr Edie Friedman said “Griffin’s comment about the BNP supporting Israeli actions in Gaza was a sinister attempt to demonstrate pro-Jewish and anti-Muslim credentials.”

JC Online

We'll set dogs on you: BNP thugs

15 Comment (s)
Two anti-BNP protesters were told they would have their throats ripped out by Rottweilers if they continued to disrupt a fundraising dinner in Ross-on-Wye.

Mother-of-five Antoinette Beizsley, 47, said she was also "pushed hard" by BNP-hired thugs at the town's Chase Hotel when she and members of her family breached a police line to enter the hotel's grounds, before being verbally threatened. Antoinette's aunt Sue Fellows, also received the threat. Sue, who is a youth worker at Cinderford's CANDI drop-in centre, said: "They told us if they saw us again they'd open the back of their van and set their Rottweillers on us. They said the dogs would rip our throats out."

One protester, a 19-year-old from Worcester, was given a fixed penalty notice by police for a minor public order offence.

Up to 100 anti-fascist demonstrators – many from Ross-on-Wye and the Forest of Dean – protested as guests of the BNP's Trafalgar Club arrived for a dinner fundraiser for the extreme right-wing party on Saturday evening. One vehicle was pelted with eggs.

Antoinette, who now lives in Wiltshire, said: "I used to be politically active against fascists a long time ago and Ross is my hometown, so I felt incensed when I discovered BNP members were there. I have always been against bullies, and the BNP are the worst kind. With their racist and discriminatory beliefs, I don't think they should be legal. I was proud to be there demonstrating against neo-Nazis with six members of my family. I was shocked at the behaviour of the security officers."

Her son Adam is now organising an online campaign on Facebook urging businesses and travel websites to boycott the hotel for hosting the annual dinner.

Sue Fellows said: "I live only a few hundred yards from the Chase Hotel and I've used it in the past. It's shameful that the hotel took the booking, and didn't even inform its staff or other guests until the last minute. My grandfather fought against the Nazis and Hitler in the Second World War, and now we have fascists on our doorstep. We had to make a stand against them and their hateful beliefs. Britain has always been a multi-racial society and I see nothing wrong with that."

On Sunday morning BNP leader Nick Griffin was spotted with his entourage taking a pleasure cruise along the Wye at Symonds Yat.

A spokesman for West Mercia police said: "The protest went ahead peacefully and there was no need for any proactive police intervention. Disruption to local residents and visitors was kept to a minimum."

While a recently leaked BNP members' list showed the party has just six members within the Forest of Dean constituency (down from nine in 2007), the Hereford constituency, which includes Ross, has its own branch and membership has risen from 15 to 25 within two years. The Hereford branch was set up by a leading BNP member and convicted terrorist Dr Lambertus Nieuwhof, whose company hosts a number of party websites.

Chase Hotel general manager Colin Parcell was unavailable for comment.

This is Gloucestershire

British No-show Party as Griffin bottles it

11 Comment (s)
Nick Griffin milking as much publicity as he can from the BNP's
donation to FEBA, the veteran's charity set up by Tommy Moffat (right)

The previous week, Nick Griffin had braved death threats, run the gauntlet of rioting protesters outside BBC studios and been heckled by a baying crowd during his appearance on Question Time.

But even for a hardened neo-fascist, it appears the streets of north-east Glasgow are a step too far. The photographers were waiting, unemployed locals had something to watch, Greggs was doing a roaring trade in steak pies and coffee. The only thing missing was the man himself.

Mr Griffin, we had been informed, would be arriving in Springburn at noon to campaign for the British National Party ahead of the Glasgow North East by-election on 12 November. At 1:30pm, it was confirmed he would not be coming at all. Faced with the prospect of meeting some of the country's more forthright observers of political life, the saviour of Britain's victimised white race appeared to have bottled it.

Mr Griffin's day in Scotland had got off to a trying start. In the morning, arriving at the Hamilton radio studios of L107, which had decided to run a phone-in with him, the BNP leader was pelted with eggs by about 40 protesters. The phone-in itself proved to be commercial suicide for the station, which later revealed that at least three advertisers had withdrawn support in protest.

But at least at Springburn shopping centre Mr Griffin would finally have a chance to speak to some genuine voters. BNP candidate Charlie Baillie, a Glasgow-born contractor, was there, waiting for his leader, mobile phone pressed to his head. Mr Baillie was having mixed results whipping up support. Walking past was 82-year-old James Murray, a former Royal Engineer who saw service in the Second World War, fighting his way into Nazi German territory in the Allied advance at the end of the war.

"I used to shoot people like you," Mr Murray called cheerfully to Mr Baillie.

Three paid-up Glasgow neds, however, proved more fruitful territory. "All these black c**** are getting housing. Excuse my language," declared one. Mr Baillie nodded sympathetically, telling him the problem was the influx of asylum seekers who were changing the identity of the country.

The first sign that things were going wrong came a few minutes after 12. Mr Baillie informed the waiting media that Mr Griffin would be late, having been held up. Mr Baillie disappeared. Forty-five minutes after that, two BNP men emerged from a Mercedes people-carrier. Mr Griffin would not be coming at all, they said. He had been invited to a veterans' charity in Hamilton.

"Rather than cut short his visit to the servicemen, he is taking time with them," one of them said. He hadn't bottled it at all, they added – he had simply decided to spend more time with deserving veterans. The media headed for Lanarkshire, where Mr Griffin was found at the headquarters of Feba, a charity set up last year to offer support to veterans. Feba founder Tommy Moffat has said he was forced to accept support from the BNP, because he was turned down for help by government.

"I will be down in Springburn later," Mr Griffin insisted. But his minders said he had an important speaking engagement. In St Helen's, Lancashire.

Mr Griffin and Mr Baillie posed for pictures. "Sorry I didn't get there," said the leader to his colleague. And with that he disappeared into a waiting Volkswagen. The march of the far-right on to Scotland's turf, it appeared, would have to wait for another time.

• The BNP could be invited on to Question Time up to once a year if it maintains its current support levels, BBC director-general Mark Thompson has said.


Stroud pint hurler welcomes BNP on Question Time

0 Comment (s)
A teenager who threw a pint over British National Party leader Nick Griffin has backed the BBC's decision to invite him as a guest on Question Time.

The 18-year-old campaigner, known only as Ben, hit the headlines this summer after showering the far-right politician with Guinness at The Falcon Inn, Painswick. But Ben was not among the protesters at Thursday's demonstration outside the BBC's Television Centre in West London.

He said: "I didn't go to London on Thursday, chiefly because I actually wholeheartedly believe in the BBC's decision to let nasty Nick appear on Question Time. The BNP is a party hiding behind a thin veneer of respectability and it is only through public exposure and debate that we will be able to show them for what they are.

"The public have a right and a duty to understand what these people truly stand for, else they will receive more and more 'blind votes' as disillusionment with mainstream inevitably grows. I think my point was demonstrated by how uncomfortable Nick Griffin looked throughout his appearance."

Ben, who accepted a police caution for common assault after hurling the pint at Mr Griffin, also dismissed claims by the politician that he was unfairly treated on the show.

He said: "He claims that he was unfairly treated by a 'lynch mob' but this lynch mob which attacked him throughout the programme was a group of elected politicians, all of whom represent parties with far greater public support than the BNP – and members of the general public. I can only but wonder what would happen to this 'lynch mob', of which so many of us are members, should he have his way."

No one from the BNP was available for comment.

This is Gloucestershire

October 28, 2009

BBC Director-General - BNP will get annual Question Time slot

6 Comment (s)
The British National Party will be granted up to one appearance on Question Time each year if it maintains its current level of public support, the Director-General of the BBC said today.

Giving evidence to the House of Lords communications committee, Mark Thompson was asked about the controversial appearance of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, on last week’s instalment of the BBC’s flagship political panel programme.

Mr Thompson said that the party’s showing in the European elections earlier this year, when it gained two MEPs, meant that the BBC had no choice but to include it in some editions of Question Time. He said: “The underlying support for the BNP is 2 to 3 per cent. In the European elections they got 6 per cent. This isn’t an absolute, precise science. I think you’re talking about a party, if it continued to get that level of support, [getting] no more than one [appearance] a year and perhaps less.”

Mr Thompson admitted that it was the BBC that approached the BNP to appear, rather than vice-versa, adding that the corporation had been considering the move for “months and years”. He said that it was his decision, as editor-in-chief of the corporation, to extend an invitation to Mr Griffin, and that as Parliament had not banned the party it was not appropriate for him to deny it access.

Under a barrage of questions from Lord Fowler, the chairman of the committee, Mr Thompson said that the BNP was also likely to appear on other political programmes such as Radio 4’s Any Questions.

“He could appear on any of the programmes that deal with UK politics,” he said.

The Director-General said that he could not give a view on whether the show had been a success, as he may have to adjudicate on complaints made by the public, which he said numbered in the low hundreds.

The BBC secured record ratings for Mr Griffin’s appearance on Question Time. More than 8 million people tuned in to watch him receive a mauling from his fellow panellists and the studio audience at Television Centre in West London. That figure was the highest in the 30-year history of the programme — which normally attracts 2 to 3 million viewers — and meant that the show edged out the Saturday night celebrity talent contest Strictly Come Dancing in the week’s ratings.

At least 500 protesters massed outside Television Centre as Mr Griffin arrived for the taping of the show last week. Three officers were injured during clashes with demonstrators and six protesters arrested.

Times Online

BNP's Nick Griffin greeted with protest in Lanarkshire

3 Comment (s)

British National Party leader Nick Griffin was met with protests when he appeared at a radio station in Hamilton.

The far-right politician was pelted with eggs (video here) as he made his way to the station's studios.

Around 40 demonstrators heckled him as he arrived for a morning phone-in on the L107 station less than a week after his controversial appearance on the BBC's Question Time.

L107 programme director Derek McIntyre defended the decision to have the BNP leader on but admitted it was "commercial suicide". He said: "We have received 50 emails this morning from people withdrawing their support for the station and two or three advertisers have said they are pulling out."

Strathclyde Police said three arrests were made at the protest.

A man aged 19 was arrested for breach of the peace and a 42-year-old woman was also held for breach of the peace and resisting arrest.

Another man was arrested for a racist breach of the peace, police said.


Griffin TV appearance fails to lift BNP support in latest polls

9 Comment (s)
The public is more balanced about the British National Party than Peter Hain and other alarmists. Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time last Thursday has had no effect on the BNP’s rating. There is a big difference between public anxieties that the BNP seeks to exploit and voters’ willingness to back the party.

Two polls since Question Time show no evidence of any BNP bounce. Its support remains in the recent 2 to 3 per cent range: and between 1.5 and 3 per cent over the past year according to Populus. (These ratings are below those recorded by the Greens and the UK Independence Party.) Small fluctuations at this low level do not mean anything because of the margin of error. Moreover, the number having a positive impression of the BNP has fallen from 11 to 9 per cent since June.

Anthony Wells, of UK Polling Report website, concludes: “Despite all the hoo-ha and protests, despite the millions of people who watched Question Time, it doesn’t seem to have made any significant difference to how the public view them, or how likely they are to support them (at least, not yet).”

Not yet is an important caveat. The alarmists have focused on last Saturday’s YouGov poll in the Telegraph identifying 15 per cent who say it was possible that they would vote BNP in a future local, general or European election, and the 7 per cent who say they would “definitely or probably” consider doing so. But the same poll showed BNP support still at just 3 per cent.

An analysis on the Political Betting website of a mass of polling data shows that two thirds of BNP supporters did not vote for any of the big three parties in 2005, and most did not vote at all. Only a fifth are former Labour voters. Overall, they are more likely to be working class than other parties’ voters. The BNP’s real success is in mobilising previous non-voters.

This is not, however, an argument for complacency. There are high levels of support for issues championed by the BNP. An ICM poll for the News of the World had two thirds believing that recent immigrants get more favourable housing and state benefits compared with “Brits”. Three fifths say mainstream parties have “no credible policies” on immigration but only 44 per cent agree that the white working classes have been abandoned by the mainstream parties, with 52 per cent disagreeing.

The BNP matters because it articulates and distorts the fears of the disaffected about being squeezed out of public services. The party will probably win votes in a few areas but it is not a serious electoral threat nationally.

Times Online

BNP squaddie in Nazi salute

6 Comment (s)
A British soldier heaps shame on the Army by showing off his BNP credentials with a defiant Hitler-style Nazi salute

Squaddie shames the Army with nazi salute
The disgraceful photo of Private Craig Orwin, who serves with the Light Dragoons, emerged days after former Army generals declared war on the extremist party. Orwin boasts of being a BNP member and reveals his vile views in the entry on his Facebook page.

The 19-year-old Hull City supporter, seen running on to the pitch in a photo on the social networking site, says his religious leaning is to "kill Leeds fans". He says he belongs to groups including "Salute our war heroes or piss off back to where you came from", "Racist Blacks" and "I hate white teenagers who feel the need to act like blacks". The yob also says he supports the "Harry Roberts he's our friend" group. It calls for the release of Sixties killer Harry Roberts serving life for the murder of three policemen.

Orwin lists "drinkin" as one of his hobbies. His BNP links have emerged less than a week after former Army top brass warned that far right groups were trying to hijack the Army for propaganda purposes. A letter signed by ex-Army chiefs General Sir Mike Jackson and General Sir Richard Dannatt warned groups like the BNP were "fundamentally at odds" with the values of the British military.

BNP leader Nick Griffin has already sparked outrage by claiming wartime PM Winston Churchill would have been a member of his party. Griffin said: "Winston Churchill, certainly by modern standards, would be regarded as a racist."

Protesters voiced their anger outside the BBC's West London base last Thursday when Griffin made an appearance on BBC1's Question Time.

Supporter Orwin now faces a grilling from Army chiefs. His antics have brought shame on his unit which is based in Swanton Morley, Norfolk. It has twice served in Iraq and also completed a six-month tour of Afghanistan. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We are investigating an incident and if rules have been broken, disciplinary action will be taken. Members of the Armed Forces are free to join any political party but any racist behaviour or breach of the Army's Values and Standards will be dealt with."


October 27, 2009

BNP Bosses Uncovered

59 Comment (s)
Office chief James Dowson sent this pic of
himself with a shotgun to ex-employee after a dispute

This is gun-toting BNP fundraiser Rev James Dowson calmly walking down the street with his toddler son and wife – and a shotgun!

The crazed anti-abortion nutter, who has a list of convictions including possessing a weapon, sent the phone photo to a former employee after they fell out over a computer which holds the entire BNP membership database. The Scottish ‘businessman’, who has loyalist links and lives in Ballygowan, runs the right wing BNP’s national nerve centre in east Belfast under the cover name Adlorries.

But the entire operation was thrown into chaos recently after his right-hand woman quit her job of running the office and took a computer which contained the BNP membership list. Today the former employee lifts the lid on life working for 44-year-old Jim Dowson and the BNP in Belfast. She reveals how:
  • Dowson sent her the photo of himself with a shotgun and threatened other members of her family with the UVF.
  • The rabid nutter flew into a rage after a Belfast recruitment sent two Asian men and two gay people to work in the Dundonald office.
  • Dowson runs a string of charities from the Belfast base and collects donations for doing nothing.
  • BNP members have been conned into buying a lifetime membership which comes with a £100 watch – which is actually only worth £19.99.
It comes in the week when a fresh leaked list of alleged BNP members appeared on the internet and convicted race-hate leader Nick Griffin’s controversial appearance on the BBC’s Question Time.

Following a dispute with Dowson the former employee, who can’t be identified, says she kept a computer belonging to the BNP because he refused to pay her substantial wages she claims she was owed. Dowson then sent her this picture of himself, armed with a shotgun. “I took that as a threat – why else would he send someone he was in dispute with such a photo?” says the former BNP officer manager.

“I worked for them at their office in Dundonald for the last eight months because it was a job and I needed the work, plus it paid well. At the start it was just like organising any other office but recently he wanted me to get more involved in the political side of things and I ended up working more for the BNP directly. But it got too difficult because I hate what the BNP stand for, plus I live with my partner in a republican area. I’m not scared of Dowson though – he’s a wannabe hardman and I think he’s full of shit.”

Dowson, who once told the Sunday World he would never “get into bed” with the BNP, has a string of convictions including breach of the peace in 1986, possession of a weapon and breach of the peace in 1991 and criminal damage in 1992. He also has close links with loyalist groups here and has produced flute band tapes which glorify UFF mass killer Michael Stone.

Following our expose of his secret BNP office back in June, Dowson told UTV that he hated the BNP and only ran their call centre on pure business grounds. However we can reveal that Dowson is a fully paid up ‘life’ member.

The former employee says Dowson once flew off the handle after a Belfast recruitment agency sent gays and Asians to work in the BNP office.

“He went mental when these two Asian fellas arrived to work for us. I asked them did they realise who they would be working for and they said they didn’t care, so long as they got paid. Then they sent us a man and a woman who were quite obviously gay and he had them chucked out before they even got an interview. I left in the middle of September and he told me to keep the computer in exchange for the wages he owed. But things turned nasty when my sister, who also worked there, left but before she did she changed all the passwords on the computers. My sister only did it because they treated her like a dogsbody.

“Jim then demanded the computer back and started to get nasty. We argued for about two days over the phone about it and then on Saturday I got the picture of him with his wife and son and a shotgun. He then called the cops to my house and had me arrested for theft. The cops are raging because he told them a load of nonsense about there being cops’ and top judges’ personal details being on the computer just to get them to arrest me.”

She says Jim idolises leader Nick Griffin and loves the BNP.

“Jim went nuts after the Sunday World story in June and pulled us all in to a meeting. He banned mobile phones in the office and he installed cameras everywhere. But so many people have left he only had one call centre salesperson left. Jim is terrified that the place is going to fold because the business has dried up. During my time we brought in 4,000 new members but he can’t get past 13,000 members.

Nutter Nick’s girl is working undiecover in his Belfast office

Jenny Matthys, daughter of race hate nutter Nick GriffinTHIS the daughter of race hate nutter Nick Griffin – and she’s set up home in Ulster. Posing in her underwear she looks like a decent fun-loving girl – but behind the veneer she’s as bitter as her dad.

Jenny Matthys is a dyed-in-the wool BNP fanatic and has been sent by MEP dad Nick to Belfast to run the party’s membership office. Jenny, who’s 23 years old, is living in a tiny flat in Comber with her new Welsh husband who also works for the BNP in Belfast.

Her dad made a controversial appearance on the BBC’s Question Time programme on Thursday night and it’s believed Jenny was in London to bask in her father’s ‘glory’. The Sunday World can reveal that Jenny moved over here in July after a string of visits to Northern Ireland. Now she’s living here permanently and has become a fan of loyalist band culture.

“Jenny loves the whole loyalist thing,” says the former office manager of the Belfast BNP office. “She’s a big fan of the Goldsprings Flute Band who are a blood and thunder band from Comber. Jenny even joined them recently and goes to band practice every week. She doesn’t play anything – instead they let her carry the flag. She went up to Derry recently with Jim Dowson and his family to see the band parade.”

Jenny is also filled with contempt for ethnic minorities.

“Jenny is just like her dad. She loves the BNP and wants to follow in her dads footsteps. In fact she’s even worse than her dad because she says stuff that he even realises is too stupid to say. And she’s like him in other ways too – she’s extremely arrogant – in fact she’s a complete bitch.

As a 17-year-old Jenny planned to run for council as a BNP representative but the plan never got off the ground. But she has spent most of her life since she was a teenager working to promote the vile views of the BNP. Her husband Angus works in the mailroom of the Belfast office and came over from Wales to live here with Jenny.

Racist gets invite to Ulster

Hardline loyalists are to invite BNP leader Nick Griffin to address supporters in Ulster.

A fascist group based in Mid-Ulster have been in contact with the BNP’s head office in London. It followed his appearance on the BBC1 Question Time show on Thursday which was watched by a record 8 million viewers. The hardline loyalists want the MEP and one of his right wing councillors to come to the province in the New Year to host a question and answer session.

Said a source: “Loyalists are fed up that their local unionist politicians who don’t speak up for them. We want Ulster to remain British. We don’t foreigners coming and taking our jobs and our homes. We want a councillor to stand in next year’s elections as mid Ulster has a large foreign national population. We will give him a warn welcome because we believe he speaks up for the loyalist people of Ulster.’’

Nick Griffin is no stranger to Ulster and has a long association with hardline loyalist groups over his opposition to Sinn Fein and the IRA. Five years ago, the Sunday World revealed how Griffin held a series of meetings with neo Nazis groups at a Belfast hotel. He also met a number of senior UVF figures who were Ulster cheerleaders for the BNP.

Sunday World