In a move clearly designed to smother any chance of a successful leadership challenge for at least three years, Nick Griffin has told a meeting of the BNP's Advisory Council that he intends to step down at the end 0f 2013.
The carefully crafted plan is designed to undermine support for any potential leadership challengers among the voting membership, large numbers of which will be satisfied that Griffin has apparently set a date for his departure and given promises that he intends to modernise the BNP's election fighting capability.
“By then I would have been leader of the BNP for 15 years and that is long enough,” said Griffin. “It will be time to make way for a younger person who does not have any baggage which can be used against the party.”
Griffin claims he needs the time to put into place the last “building blocks” of the BNP’s administrative and political machine, according to the BNP website.
“This is going to take at least 18 months to implement and after that I intend to hand the party over to someone who will be able to drive support up to where it can be a serious contender for power,” said Griffin.
Griffin's utter political ineptness has been amply demonstrated over the past few weeks of the general election, though somehow the political greenhorns and Griffin cultists among the BNP membership have been fooled (or have fooled themselves) into believing that the party's obliteration was in fact an advance, and that their millstone of a leader remains the man to take them forward.
It would certainly be difficult for Griffin to take the BNP any further backward.
In the meantime, sheltering behind the cover of his putative resignation date and the claims of needing time to put the BNP's electoral machine in order, Griffin will be free to pick off potential challengers and root out dissent within the party. Anybody even thinking about a leadership challenge can and will, on all past form, be labelled a "wrecker" unwilling to give Griffin time to complete his modernisation.
Griffin will also be banking on the virtual certainty of improved voting percentages in local elections, especially by-elections, in which low turnouts favour the party - something denied them in the high turnout general election.
Griffin had already secured his continuance at the helm of the BNP with the introduction of a Byzantine nomination system, which no challenger has any realistic chance of surmounting, and so is perfectly safe, but another danger was the prospect of a breakaway led by some of the party's better known figures. The shuffle announced to the Advisory Council is also designed to short-circuit that possibility.
We have to admit that there is a touch of genius about this manoeuvre. It will almost certainly buy Griffin the time he needs in the short term to consolidate his position, since Griffin knows better than anybody the limited reasoning power of his membership and its submissive reluctance to query his motives.
The question is, what will the internal opposition do to counter Griffin's moves, and will enough of those calling for Griffin's head over the past fortnight or so remain onside to make continued opposition worthwhile?