October 20, 2009

Anatomy of a party – what the BNP list says about its members

Typical member is named David or John, has a job, lives in East Midlands and, if married to a BNP member, has a wife called either Patricia, Joanne or Karen

The leak of a British National party membership database provides a detailed anatomy of an organisation whose growing public profile means that this week it will enjoy the most prominent platform in its history when Nick Griffin, its leader, appears on Question Time on BBC1.

The BNP's constitution states it is "committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948". The party also proposes "firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home". Only last week did it agree to alter its overtly racist constitution which bans non-whites from joining. But who are the people who join such an organisation and who does Griffin represent?

This morning, BNP officials began scouring the document, but could not yet confirm or deny if it is genuine or not but according to the Guardian's analysis of the available data a typical supporter is likely to be called David or John, he is likely to have a "standard" membership which means he has a paying job, and he is most likely to lives in Charnwood, a Conservative-controlled East Midlands constituency. If he is married to a BNP member, she is most likely to be called Patricia, Joanne or Karen. His male friends in the BNP are likely to be called Paul, Michael, Peter and Robert, while Jane, Tracey, Valerie and Helen are popular names among the party's 2,034 women members.

If this picture makes the supporter base of the BNP sounds very normal, bland even for a party that concerns so many opponents of far right politics, then that impression will only be reinforced by the different types of membership available, including "family", "family plus", "old age pensioner" and "gold" – a £60 membership for members whom Griffin describes as "the elite of the party".

Not everyone who joins is quite as ordinary as these descriptions suggest. The latest list also reveals that the membership include dozens of doctors, majors, captains and corporals.

BNP spokesman Simon Darby, said today that at first glance the list includes some people who are no longer members and some who have moved abroad. Nick Griffin, the party's leader, said the list could contain people who have shown an interest in the party but have not become members.

The list does not show as many members as the BNP claims to have. Darby said membership had grown recently, partly as a result of anger at the MPs' expenses scandal, and has now reached around 14,000. But the data seen by the Guardian, which appears to be a snapshot at the end of April 2009, shows 11,811 members. It is not clear if it is comprehensive and when the list of the BNP's membership at the end of 2007 list was leaked in November 2008, it showed 12,802 names. Some of those were not full members and had only showed an interest in the party.

But it is the geographical spread of the BNP's members which is most revealing about where the far right's power base comes from. The greatest concentrations of BNP membership are in the East Midlands, in the urban areas around the Pennines and in Essex.

Charnwood in Leicestershire is the parliamentary constituency with the largest number of BNP members with 63. The area borders Leicester, one of the most ethnically diverse in the country. The BNP won 3.4% of the vote and came fourth at the 2005 general election more than trebling the party's share of the vote since 1997. It includes Loughborough's Soar Valley in the suburbs just north of Leicester, villages from the other bank of the Soar river, Thurmaston to the north-east of Leicester and to the city's west it covers Glenfield, Ratby and Leicester Forest East.

The BNP has one councillor on Charnwood borough council, Cathy Duffy, who represents the village of East Goscote. The neighbouring constituency of Loughborough is also home to BNP 46 members.

The next membership hotspot is the Pendle constituency in Lancashire, which includes mill towns and villages where many people of south Asian origin have settled. In 2008, the BNP councillor Brian Norton Parker distributed leaflets which alleged: "Muslims are exclusively responsible for the heroin trade."

Amber Valley in Derbyshire and Ashfield in Nottinghamshire each have 59 members. In a trend that suggests the party's influence is spreading, if not growing in absolute terms, the fastest growing membership – compared with the data leaked last year – are in areas outside the party's current heartlands. The number of members in Salisbury in Wiltshire has trebled to 36, while Barnsley Central in Yorkshire has 48, Hastings and Rye in East Sussex have 32, and Orpington in Kent has 25. There have been significant falls in Leeds and Keighly, in Yorkshire, and Carlisle in Cumbria.

The data also appears to shows a party in a constant state of flux with many supporters allowing their memberships to lapse each year.

"What happens is the membership flow acts like a bath with running water and the plug missing," said Nick Lowles, editor of Searchlight, a magazine which monitors far-right groups. "People join the party, because they're angry, agitated or curious, but they leave in equal numbers out of the bottom. We believe their turnover rate is far higher than any other political party."

He said that moles who operate inside the BNP on behalf of Searchlight have said the party's electoral success in the European elections in June, as well as the recent spurt in media coverage, have not resulted in a surge of support. "My understanding is that their membership hasn't changed in any great way over the last six to eight months," said Lowles.

Analysis after the last year's leak, he continued, showed that the BNP's membership consisted of mainly middle-aged white men who worked in semi-skilled jobs. Membership lists can, however, give a skewed impression of the BNP's supporters and voters. "The fact is a that a lot of BNP supporters wouldn't join a political party," he said.

Lowles said recent falls in the BNP's share of the vote at council byelections, including a seat in Barnsley last week, indicated that party's increased national profile in recent weeks as a result of Griffin's forthcoming appearance on Question Time was not translating into electoral success.



Endo said...

The BNP is claiming that a peer is a member of the party but here's the truth

Wikileaks - The "Lord Bramhall" is most certainly NOT Lord Edwin Bramall, who is a Field Marshall, sitting peer, Knight of the Garter and many other illustrious things.

The Lord Bramhall (notice the slightly different spelling) is on the BNP membership list registered to postcode ST1 4RB (which is in Stoke on Trent, believed to be a retirement home).

If you conduct a series of searches, you can find this


This is an ASCII version of a webpage which mentions "Lord Brian Bramhall" - not really a Lord, but he styles himself as the 10th Earl of Newbury. Lines 37 and 38 of that link give you both the name "Lord Brian Bramhall" and his postcode "ST1 4RB"

The webpage is his own, which he uses to trace genealogy of his family: http://www.bramhall.talktalk.net/


New Statesman - A case of mistaken identity

Has the BNP claimed its first parliamentarian? Early stories on the leaked membership list, which can now be seen on WikiLeaks, erroneously reported that a sitting peer was among those included.

Baron Bramall, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, was branded as the guilty man and the fact that he once traded blows with Lord Janner after a series of anti-Israel comments did little to dampen speculation. But with a bit of digging I've found out that the individual in question is in fact the self-styled "Lord" Brian Bramhall of Newbury, a man who has certainly not been elevated to the House of Lords.

Meanwhile, Mary Riddell has an excellent piece in today's Daily Telegraph on the practical policies needed to counter the BNP, a welcome reminder that Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time is unlikely to swing many votes either way.

A Very Public Sociologist said...

I can't help but laugh. Losing two membership databases in the space of less than a year? Unbelievable incompetence.

Anonymous said...

When the membership rule change comes in and next year's list gets leaked there'll be loads of Mohammeds and Winstons on there. And all the Davids, Karens and Adolfs will have fucked off to the EDL. You read it here first. Or on Wikileaks.

Anonymous said...

A fake vicar and now a fake peer. Whatever next?

Mr T said...

Griffin is claiming that its a hoax

The so-called “new BNP membership list” published today on the Internet is a malicious forgery, party leader Nick Griffin has announced.

“We have had a chance to examine the list in detail and can unequivocally say that it is not a genuine BNP list,” Mr Griffin said.

“It is a concoction of the ‘old’ list plus a number of inquiries received, but, most disturbingly, it contains thousands of names of people with whom the BNP has had no contact whatsoever,” Mr Griffin said.

“The list includes thousands of people with renewal and membership numbers next to their names which are totally false and made up,” Mr Griffin said.

“We have no idea from where this information has been drawn. Some of it looks like random items drawn from a telephone book,” he said, adding that part of the list looked like information which was taken from the home of an ex-BNP employee by police during an earlier investigation.

Mr Griffin pointed out that the party had been the subject of extensive attacks by the state during the entire European election period.

“Overt that time, twenty sacks of mail disappeared in the post, and were only delivered six weeks after the election date after we threatened to call in the police,” Mr Griffin said.

The BNP leader said that the high degree of fraud used in compiling the list was a serious criminal offence. “In the interests of the totally unconnected people named in this list, we will not be confirming or denying any details contained in this new attempt to subvert the BNP.”

Mr Griffin also criticised the media for sensationalising the publication of this list.

“Government departments, including the ministry of defence, have time and time again lost sensitive data on laptops left in trains, or have thrown lists into skips for cleaners to find. Recently, the entire Royal Air Force payroll was up for grabs on the Internet.

“These events are sidelined with a cursory reference in the media. Yet, when we, as a legal political party have our data stolen, the media makes a circus of it. It is hypocritical in the extreme,” Mr Griffin said.

Anonymous said...

How come there are so many councillors on the list? I thought they only had about 60???

Anonymous said...

BNP membership by ward (including +/- figures for past two years - online spreadsheet

Antifascist said...

'Griffin is claiming that its a hoax'

Of course. It's either that or admit that he's been lying through his fat arse about the 'fast-growing' membership.

'How come there are so many councillors on the list? I thought they only had about 60???'

They only have around fifty. The rest are parish/town councillors who shouldn't be using the prefix 'Cllr' anyway.

irishtony said...

fast growing membership my arse!!

I am 100% confident that the list includes past members, those who made enquiries and some oddballs who donated in the past.

Membership is nowhere near 8000 never mind 11,000


Anonymous said...

Well if it IS a hoax, they managed to update the address and telephone number of someone who was on the old list and has since moved. Both addresses were correct for the dates given on the lists.

Anonymous said...

I hate to jump to conclusions and would really not like to cast doubt on the authenticity of the so called members nor on who is behind any fabrication but is it not strange that the two names which are so commonly used just happen to be the names of Arthur Kemp's ex-wife and out of favour daughter - Karen and Joanne!

Seeing as “Jeannine” is not used maybe “Patricia” belongs to someone new who has significance in his life!

Makes you think!

iliacus said...

Irish Tony.

I agree.

These so-called 'membership lists' seem to be a mix of members, ex-members, people who have offered help (leafletting, posters etc), purchasers of BNP tat, and God knows who else !!

And, yes, where are the ACCOUNTS !

Looking forward to studying them.

Anonymous said...

It can't be a hoax, I'm on there and it clearly states my membership lapsed 2 years ago - that being the time I finally became so disgusted and embarassed with the party that I had to get out. How would a hoaxer know exactly who has left the party and who is still a member?

Anybody could concoct a list from the last leak and claim it is a new list, but they wouldn't know about details such as lapsed memberships. Definitely not a hoax.

On another point, I was initially shocked and angered that my details were still being kept on the BNP's database. But then I thought good. Anybody wanting to know if I'm still a member can go to this list and see that I haven't been a member for over 2 years. And I'll be staying that way.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to see who the new and old members are. Just have a look at the date in column 'I' which tells you when the memberships expired or will expire. You can see there are many people on the list who are no longer members.

So they don't have that many members after all.

AndyMinion (BatsMan) said...

Oh great. I now live in a BNP Membership Hotspot (Amber Valley).


Anonymous said...

My personal fave comment is from the April Renewals and concerns a R. Amanti.

It reads:

"Not real name, retired Royal Navy Commander and still a bit nervous about us."

Anonymous said...

Anybody could concoct a list from the last leak and claim it is a new list, but they wouldn't know about details such as lapsed memberships. Definitely not a hoax.

Probably based on a real document but 'played' around with to sow confusion.

Besides after losing so many lists the BNP looks like it is priming itself for Government!