A grandmother working for the BNP at City Hall is feared to be behind plans to unite far-Right activists in advance of the general election. Tess Culnane, dubbed a “neo-Nazi granny” by her rivals after being a member of the BNP and National Front, has been recruited as an aide by London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook.
Opponents of the BNP believe this suggests that factional infighting has ended, allowing the party to focus on the general election and borough elections. BNP leader Nick Griffin is challenging Labour minister Margaret Hodge for the Barking seat, while the party aims to build on its councillors in boroughs such as Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge.
Mrs Culnane, a grandmother of 12 from Mottingham, who is believed to be in her seventies, is working part-time at City Hall as an agency worker.
She was a strong supporter of former BNP leader John Tyndall and has stood in London Assembly, European and council elections. She was the National Front candidate in the Haltemprice and Howden, Yorkshire, by-election in 2008 that was called after then shadow home secretary David Davis quit and then retained his seat.
In a pre-Euro election speech last year, she said she and her family had suffered vandalism and crime at the hands of black neighbours since 1969 and railed against “the tragedy that has hit my family through multiculturalism”. She added: “Many British families are suffering the scourge of multiculturalism. The British bulldog has had its nose rubbed in the dirt long enough.”
Speaking of Mrs Culnane's role, Labour assembly member Murad Qureshi said: “In this instance the BNP has revealed its fascist underbelly, and voters should not be fooled by the party's attempts to present a more moderate image.”
Former mayor Ken Livingstone, who headed an anti-BNP conference at the weekend, said: “It is a travesty that the BNP has a seat on the London Assembly to give platform to its toxic propaganda.”
Mrs Culnane declined to answer questions but said: “I'm certainly not a Nazi* — I'm a true blue patriot. If anybody called me a traitor I would be upset.”
This is London
*Our photograph shows Culnane addressing the openly Nazi British People's Party.