The British National Party has announced that, following pressure from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, it will now be admitting black members. Don't all rush at once, folks
Still, only fair, isn't it? After all, black people have every right to be racist knuckleheads, too. Maybe this new branch of the BNP could take it a step further and enter a float at next year's Notting Hill Carnival. After all, no sense in just preaching to the converted.
This being the BNP however, the ground-breaking declaration was made from a boozer near Romford. And as Nick Griffin, party leader, promoted the new inclusiveness, his company goons were encouraging a reporter from The Times to leave. That is the BNP term for it, anyway. The rest of us would say they were giving him a going over, nightclub bouncer style. Griffin said it showed the party was not going soft.
Anyway, if a bloody nose is the trade-off for reminding folk what the BNP truly represents, the man from the Thunderer might consider it a worthwhile exercise after all. A small episode of assault exposes the lie at the heart of the party because, incredibly, there are otherwise reasonable people who are actually convinced the BNP represents their views. It is the grab-bag manifesto of populist policies that does it. Weekly rubbish collection. The return of grammar schools. Hey, people think, this BNP lot are just like me.
But they are not. You are nicer than them. You are fairer than them. You are better, so much better, than the BNP. Do not confuse yourself with them. There are many who believe in educational reform. There are plenty who are upset at juggling four wheelie bins.
These are legitimate opinions, right or wrong. They do not make you a fellow traveller with the BNP, though. This is the con. This is what the BNP wishes you to believe. They want you to think of them as just another option, no different to the other parties; but they are. They are beating up people who question them, and this in the middle of a charm offensive, remember. Could you imagine what they would be like if they had the power to move out of the margins?
Walter Wolfgang, 82 and a Labour Party member for 57 years, was ejected from the Labour Party conference in 2005 for shouting 'nonsense' as Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, defended government policy in Iraq. The BNP would like to equate this with what happened to the man from The Times at the weekend. It bears no comparison.
The treatment of Mr Wolfgang, who was laughably prevented from returning to the auditorium by police enforcing the Terrorism Act, is one of the most shameful episodes in the history of Labour, or any mainstream political party, and will not be quickly forgotten. By contrast, what unfolded at the Elm Park pub in Hornchurch was business as usual for the BNP.
Their slogan is 'People Like You'. So are you like Ian Hindle and Andrew Wells, two names on the BNP membership list, who in 2008 were convicted of sexually abusing 14-year-old schoolgirls? Maybe you are like Martin Glasgow or Anthony Weeks, who both received prison sentences in October 2008 for racially aggravated assault? No?
It is quite a roll call, the list of BNP members who are not so much men of conviction as men with convictions. Gang rapists, public nuisances, nail bombers, murderers, arsonists, football hooligans, benefit cheats, wife beaters. Of course, every party has its share of bad apples, but in the BNP they do seem rather high in density. So are these people like you? It seems rather a lively bunch.
Some think if we ignore the BNP they will go away. I'm not so sure. If we dismiss them, if we do not continue pointing out that beneath the sheen of good schools and clean bins lurk the same old thugs who used to go Paki-bashing in the Seventies, then they stand more chance of taking some otherwise good people down with them.
They mobilise members to disproportionately invade message boards, chat rooms, or the letters pages of local papers, giving the impression that the BNP view is sympathetic, even conventional. Yet the methods are insidious, like most propaganda campaigns. It is the blade of the stiletto, not the stomp of the jackboot: at first, anyway.
In the end, though, even on their best behaviour, the BNP can't resist beating someone up. And I don't think you are like that, because decent people are not. It is why violent thugs have to impersonate them in order to get elected.