Supporters of the British National Party have turned on Nick Griffin in the wake of their leader’s much-maligned performance on Question Time, and called for him to be replaced.
Divisions within the far-Right party were highlighted yesterday by a poll on a white extremist website that has strong links to the BNP: almost 30 per cent of respondents called on Mr Griffin to stand down as chairman.
The BNP leader has been the subject of various internal attacks since his nervous performance last week on the BBC’s much-vaunted political programme, which was watched by eight million viewers. Lee Barnes, the BNP’s legal officer, accused Mr Griffin of failing to “press the attack” during the debate, while a variety of far-Right bloggers have called for him to be replaced by other senior members of the party, such as Richard Barnbrook, its London Assembly member, or Simon Darby, its deputy leader.
Yesterday supporters expressed their anger on Stormfront, a nationalist forum with the logo “White Pride Worldwide”. In a poll of more than 100 members, 30 per cent said that Mr Griffin should be replaced. Scores more have used the website to criticise his appearance on the programme, labelling it “disastrous”.
One, writing as “Smith”, said: “The facts are thus: we aren’t winning, QT didn’t help, it just made us look stupid and the intelligent amongst us want Griffin replaced.”
Another, Doriot, said: “To me is seems pretty obvious that the party has gone as far as it can under his leadership.”
Supporters said that Mr Griffin, who has a conviction for inciting racial hatred, had shown that he was incapable of leading the party forward because of his past. Mr Griffin was widely derided for smirking during a discussion on the Holocaust. A variety of his comments, such as his description of Islam as a “wicked and vicious” faith, have been aired on the programme and in media reports.
A poster calling himself Stormdragon said: “The issue of past comments will always be used against him. It will be impossible to wipe away the endless tired quotes that the opposition role (sic) out every time he speaks.”
Another, RuthFinder, pointed out: “The baggage is a problem, but given the history of Nationalism (and let’s face it, some rather dubious characters linked to it along the way) what do you do about it? It will always be there.”
One Stormfront poster said that while Mr Griffin had been successful in gaining two European seats for the party, someone “who can engage with young people better and can perform better when challenged by the media” was needed.
The BNP has defended the performance, labelling Question Time “a witchhunt and a setup”, while Mr Griffin told The Times last week that he was “ganged up on” by other members of the panel. The attacks come amid discontent about the leaking last week of the party’s membership for the second time.
However, despite the anger, Mr Griffin still enjoys support among grassroot supporters and a leadership takeover is unlikely in the near future — not least because of a lack of contenders. Matthew Collins, from the anti-BNP organisation Searchlight, told The Times: “The party is so lacking in quality that Nick Griffin is the best they’ve got.”
Simon Darby, the deputy leader, and Martin Wingfield, former editor of the BNP’s monthly newspaper, Voice of Freedom, have been mooted as alternatives. However, both are being paid to be as an assistant in the European Parliament to Mr Griffin, and are not considered to have a high enough profile to take on the role. Other possibilities, such as Andrew Brons, the party’s other MEP, have not been members for long enough.
BNP 'in plot to get rid of Nick Griffin'
Nick Griffin could face a fresh challenge as leader of the BNP after his performance on Question Time.
His critics within the party say he "fluffed" the chance to make the case for nationalism to the British people. They are set to hold a meeting in a plot to topple him. "We are determined to get rid of him," a BNP member told the Standard.
However, the location and timing of the gathering are being kept secret because of fears that Mr Griffin could seek to have members who attend expelled from the far-Right party. But it is understood to be being organised by people linked to the Reform Group of the BNP. They are said to be backing a new governing structure for the party, by a committee, possibly chaired by Chris Jackson.
A number have posted damning comments on fascist websites. One told the Standard: "A lot of people will still not know what nationalism is about. From that point of view he fluffed it."
Nearly a third of 100 people surveyed on Stormfront, a white extremist website, called on Mr Griffin to stand down after his BBC performance.