Nick Griffin's characteristically underhanded attempts to forestall a challenge to his leadership suffered another blow at the weekend when BNP "sleazebuster" Michael Barnbrook (the man who single-handedly exposed the parliamentary expenses scandal, according to himself) declared in favour of Butler and his attempt to force a leadership election.
With founding members Richard Edmonds and Valerie Tyndall (widow of previous BNP leader John Tyndall) also supporting Butler and the challenge, it is clear that support for Butler (or, at least, for change at the top) is cross-factional and gaining in momentum.
The Griffin camp is deeply worried that Eddy Butler appears to be capable of gaining the 20% voting member nominations he needs and is looking afresh at the self-defeating tactics so far deployed to halt Butler. This may be part of the reason the disgraceful Eddy Butler Exposed and BNP Truth Chronicles websites have been suspended (but not, we note, taken down).
The online equivalent of the infantile factional tactics employed by Griffin in his unending internal National Front disputes of the 1980s were backfiring badly on the BNP leader, and were taken seriously only by fully paid up idiots of the Paul Morris stamp. The majority of those who pass for "moderate" in the BNP were appalled by the existence of the websites, which probably did as much to shake the scales from the eyes of many in regard to Nick Griffin's probity and state of mind as anything said by Eddy Butler.
Suspending two counter-productive websites only when what had been blindingly obvious to everybody else finally blinded Griffin and his shrinking band of supporters is unlikely to be the end of the Griffinite dirty tricks campaign. If anything there will be a stepping-up of the all out effort to prevent the Butler challenge coming to fruition.
The favoured course at the moment seems to be the invention of a clearly unconstitutional "official" nominations process that will be entirely in the hands of Griffin henchman, bully and state education failure Clive Jefferson. Jefferson instructs that he will issue nomination forms (Butler, operating within the terms of the BNP constitution, is issuing his own), which must be returned to the central party.
This is a naked attempt to intimidate the membership at a one-to-one level. Any individual signing and returning an "official" nomination paper is directly telling Griffin and his agents that he or she does not support Griffin (polite fictions to the contrary notwithstanding). The obvious suspicion must be that those returning individual nomination papers will be "worked on", smeared, find their lives within and beyond the BNP suddenly made difficult, and, of course, there is every chance of the nominations being "lost in the post".
To circumvent this, Eddy Butler insists that his supporters use only his nominations form, to be returned to him, presumably so that a thorough witnessed auditing can be performed prior to submission - but of course, this will only work if Griffin accepts the legitimacy of the "unofficial" forms. If he does not, and reneges on a constitution that is largely his own self-serving handiwork, then an acrimonious, costly, damaging and highly public court case beckons.
Michael Barnbrook (no relation to Richard) appears to be miffed that the BNP has not accorded him the fame of which he believes himself deserving as "the individual responsible for starting the Parliamentary Expenses Scandal". In an egocentric statement posted on Eddy Butler's BNP Leadership Challenge 2010 website, Barnbrook expends rather more words whining about his lack of recognition and its supposedly deleterious effect on the BNP vote than he does in explaining his vague reasons for supporting Butler. Perhaps if Nick had tickled his ego more often..?
Barnbrook claims that he has been "inundated with telephone calls" asking him not to sign Eddy Butler’s nomination form, and repeats the widespread rumours of challenge supporters being refused admission to meetings - "rumours" that have been established to be facts.
Newly appointed party number three Clive Jefferson is conducting the Griffinite defence with all the delicacy of a crazed elephant wearing badly fitting hob-nailed boots in a room full of mice. By many accounts a man whose boundless ego dwarfs a barely detectable intellect, there may be some truth in the rumour that Jefferson possesses any brain matter at all only as a handy method of preventing his skull from caving in. His heavy-handed blundering approach to the BNP's volunteers (the ones who pay his wages), especially across the north-west, has been unnecessarily divisive.
Jefferson's typically blunt warning that he will sack any north-western BNP official who helps facilitate the gathering of nominations for Butler's challenge is inept and short-sighted, since it will force officials to keep their own counsel and disguise the extent of Butler's support in the region. The authoritarian language and contemptuous tone used cannot fail to produce a negative reaction - the poor bloody infantry in any organisation have an aversion to being treated and spoken to as if they were dogs, especially when the person barking out the orders and issuing the threats is already widely disliked, can be seen to have been promoted far beyond his abilities, and in comparison to themselves is a relative newcomer (one with a questionable past, at that).
If Eddy Butler ever wanted for a good recruiting sergeant he could not have wished for better than the lumpen Jefferson, whose hate for Butler is all too obviously personal and which clouds what little judgement he has.
But Nick Griffin has been so good as to provide Butler with several recruiting sergeants. The two suspended websites were arguably the most efficient in this respect, closely followed by the hysterical outpourings of meddler Paul Morris, and lately the blatant interference of serial failure Patrick Harrington, terrified that a Butler win will be the end of his fake Solidarity "union", forcing him to rely on the state handouts he has been drawing for some years.
Recently we pointed out that in setting such a high aiming point as the 20% voting member nominations qualification (and other dissuasive little fixes), Nick Griffin was ensuring that a challenger must be better connected and network far harder and more professionally than any real or putative challenger of the past, and that such a challenger would be deadly serious for being left no other choice but to be deadly serious in the campaign to raise those 20% nominations.
Griffin is now reaping the rewards of his own overweening hubris, and deservedly so. He shiftily made the constitutional changes he believed would make him leader for life (without protest from Eddy Butler, it must be said), but lacked the foresight to consider the consequences.
If - and it is a more than usually conjectural if - Eddy Butler obtains his 20%, or something close to it, Griffin's authority over large swathes of what remains of the BNP membership will be finished. Should the challenge go ahead Butler should be able to rely on at least twice, and almost certainly greater than that proportion of votes in the election proper. Butler can do it, just.
In the event that Butler does depose Griffin there arises the question of what happens next? The party's income has fallen to a trickle; currently it is broke, almost certainly insolvent, and cannot even afford to pay its own staff. Come October, when Butler would assume the leadership, the BNP will be in an even more wretched financial condition, exacerbated by a shrinking membership and teased by a querulous and vengeful Griffin. Butler and his team will be left asking themselves if the game really was worth the candle.
There is also the question of how Griffin and the BNP will be teased apart; on a Butler-supporting forum a poster points out that Griffin and the BNP are like Siamese twins, and that an operation to separate them may prove fatal to both.
We can but hope.