We all wondered which way Little Dicky would swing in the leadership election after the rumours that he was seen in deep discussions with Eddy Butler about a leadership challenge after the BNP got wiped out in Barking and Dagenham.
This evening a statement appeared on his website announcing that he had been sacked. The statement is as long and as boring as one of his speeches but it's worth a read towards the end.
On Feb 24th 2003, Lawrence Rustem left Hackney after graduating, to move to Barking and Dagenham, at the request of the then National Organiser.
Prior to Lawrence coming into Barking and Dagenham as an activist, no direct indication was given by either electoral results or statistics that the Borough had shown any cogent evidence that the Party had succeeded, or in any way or entertained a strong leaning to the BNP. However, there had been some indication in the 90s of an inclination to nationalism in the Borough, (that relates back to the then leader of the Party standing for the Dagenham Parliamentary election in the mid 90s). So I may very well be contradicting myself here, in saying that nationalism had been evident to some extent in Barking and Dagenham, but still, there had been no direct core vote or evident demand by the electorate for the BNP to set up in Barking and Dagenham. (It may have been seen as a possible sleeping voter).
In early summer of 2004 a by-election was called in Valence ward. The then National Organiser and the Elections Officer felt it might be a good idea to put together a strong election campaign. This applied to what we know today as a partially full campaign of 3 sweeps with one re-knock and also, with limited resources, an attempted whipping-in. This by-election, where Lawrence Rustem stood, achieved a staggering unprecedented result in east London of 36.5%.
In the autumn, another by-election was called in Goresbrook ward, where, building on the result of the previous by-election in Valence, we had a stronger contingency of activists, 5 or 6 people a day, morning and evening, coming from across the whole London and some neighbouring counties. They were enthused about what I would describe now in hindsight, as a victory with the 36.5% result, there having been no significant former track record. This by-election had Dan Kelly elected to Council with 52%, with us getting over half of the postal votes.
A month later, there was a further by-election in Village ward, where the Party would have expected again a large turn-out of activists following the full campaign in Goresbrook of 3 sweeps, 2 re-knocks and a full whipping-in, with ‘vote BNP’ posters in every 50th house. Alas, the manpower was exhausted, or other issues prevailed. Lawrence Rustem stood again as at the time he was the only fully active activist living in the Borough. The result was that we came second as in Valence, but this time securing an increased majority of 38.5%. Consequently our membership in Barking and Dagenham went through the roof, from having 20 odd members to over 100 in the period of just one year.
At that point, I was sacked as Lewisham and Bromley Organiser where we had had a decent success with Barry Roberts as Parliamentary candidate in 2001 with over 1000 votes, and then recalled to take charge of the development of Barking and Dagenham.
Prior to the General Election of 2005, I guided Dan Kelly through the workings of being a sole BNP councillor on Barking and Dagenham Council and then with a hand-picked team of 5 we worked towards the general election in the Barking and Dagenham constituency with sufficient, nevertheless limited resources, and a weekly turnout of 20-30 activists. I stood as the Parliamentary candidate for Barking. We ran a discreet non-attack campaign against Labour per se, focussing rather on the corruption of politicians and attained 19% of the vote in Barking, losing to the Tories who came second and only 24 votes ahead of me in third place. (Let’s say if I had been my own agent, the Party would have come second). In fact, 19% was the highest vote ever to date achieved by the BNP for a Parliamentary seat.
Dan Kelly, due to ill-health and personal issues, stood down as a councillor after the general election and we lost the vote to Labour with the results being reversed back in Labour’s favour, but we still managed to take second place as we also did in Becontree ward. At this point, Labour had not reckoned or consolidated its resources to put up a proper defence against us, while at the same time, nationally we in Barking and Dagenham had returned the highest results for the Party in 2004 and 2005, both at the Parliamentary, and the Council by-elections.
What was quite clear both then and when looking back now, is that the group of 4 people plus myself had worked out a SIMPLE, BASIC approach to having some success in local government elections in 2006. Only the outgoing National Organiser had the hindsight to see that Barking and Dagenham could and would give a strong representation to the BNP over and above the redundant history of the NF. The then National Elections Officer made a clear statement that Barking and Dagenham at best would be lucky to get 5 council members elected. It was due to the tenacity and foresight of the Chairman, Lawrence Rustem, 3 other key activists who had moved into the Borough and myself, that there would be, if resources were given us, a momentous victory in our favour. We had recognised one simple thing: that resources for a full borough election would be limited, consequently we would not be able to canvass any significant campaign. We had recognised the demographic change and more importantly, we had recognised the significance of street work relating to such issues as graffiti and the aesthetic appearance of the Borough and worked at what can only be described now as a high-profile presumed presentation as being councillors in waiting, while at the same time doing surveys (asking people what it was they wanted from their councillors and what changes they needed to see in the Borough for them to feel safe and content).So with little resources, we walked hundreds of miles in the guise of councillors though not as yet elected.
On the day of the elections for the Council of Barking and Dagenham 2006, Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham made a comment after only 50 minutes into the count that we would get all 13 councillors elected. The result was that 12 were elected and of these, 11 took first and second place out of the winning councillors in each of the 7 wards but one, with Labour trailing third and in some cases, several hundred votes behind us.
All of those elected had never been councillors before and half of them were only paper candidates. In the entire 4 years, not one of our councillors either crossed the floor or resigned, even though we were constantly attacked, both politically and personally. Again, our Branch membership doubled during the year 2006.
This was a phenomenon. What was more flabbergasting, is that Cruddas said a few months later that if we had fielded a full slate we would have taken the council. In saying this, it should not be overlooked that 4 months prior to the local elections of 2006, remembering that the Branch had only been set up properly when I was brought in in 2005, that we had to work from a blank slate. We had asked Head Office to put in some extra resources in order to get more candidates. At this stage Robert Bailey had moved from South Yorkshire to London as a novice and with his ability we achieved 22 candidates, albeit 9 of these were eventually withdrawn.
The statistics of activism in the 2004 by-elections, using weekend turnout as a measuring guide, was an attendance of between 15 and 30 people. Compare this to the 2006 council elections weekend turnout which was between 60 and 80. However, just 4 months after the victory in B and D, I was sacked both as the London Organiser and the Barking and Dagenham Branch Organiser.
2007 could be seen as a dead year in Barking and Dagenham’s growth, with only one by-election that was mismanaged and outside my control and the then National Organiser being removed through internal strife and battles. We came third which was unprecedented in Barking and Dagenham. Comments were made by officials as it simply being a ‘casualty of war.’
2008 and the GLA and Mayoral elections: As the Leader of the Opposition on Barking and Dagenham Council, it was felt that I would possibly be, due to my direct street activities and my having a high profile both locally and nationwide, the best candidate for the Mayor of London and number one BNP candidate on the GLA top-up London-wide list. The resources given to us were significantly larger than in 2006. Due to a centralised campaign for London, during a March weekend, we had 230 people on the streets which was quite staggering, enabling us that weekend alone, to cover the whole of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and one third of Redbridge. The closest approaching this previously was in March 2006 when we had 160 people out. During the GLA campaign, we put out 670 000 nationally designed leaflets with a further 400 000 second drop localised leaflets, relating to issues specifically addressing the concerns of the individual communities of all the boroughs of London.
Most of us who were involved with the Mayoral/GLA elections of 2008 will be aware it all went digital, and corrugated plastic ballot boxes were used for the first time. Both the local, regional and national press expressed concerns about the ballot boxes being broken or interfered with. Why do I mention this? I left the Excell Complex in Becton, one of the super-counting facilities, to return back to the GLA roughly 3 hours before the announcement of the result. I spoke to an officer of London Elects and asked him, ‘At this moment in time, could you give me a voting percentage for the BNP’s London-wide top up candidates?’. 15 minutes later he came back and said that we were at between 7.4-7.6%. I then asked him if, from his expertise and knowledge from having done 2 previous elections for London Elects, with3 hours remaining, where he thought that we, the BNP, should level out on the top-up system. The reply was, ‘7%, 7.1%.’ It turned out we got only 5.4%. Isn’t that really quite surprising, especially when the Lib-Dems had 5 GLA members whittled down to 3, and the Greens who already had 2 members, with all the parties talking ‘green, green, green’ they still had 2 seats?
In 2009 we had by-elections across London (outside Barking and Dagenham) where the BNP made no significant gains. Why? Because activities had been decentralised.
2010 General Elections and Local Elections for Barking and Dagenham: It had been agreed more than a year before that I would be the candidate for the Barking Parliamentary constituency and more than likely, Bob Bailey would be the candidate for the Dagenham constituency, now known as Dagenham and Rainham. We felt that it would be possible for us, just, to take Barking from Margaret Hodge, with a stronger possibility of taking control of the council. At the end of 2009 it was becoming apparent that I would be removed as the Barking candidate, with the idea of parachuting in an officer from HQ. This was spelt out definitively in the early months of 2010, at which point I made it clear that if I was not to stand then it should be the Chairman, whom I did finally endorse.
It was my decision not to field a full slate of 52 candidates in the council elections, but 34 candidates, spread strategically across the 17 wards. The purpose for this is that we would be able to split the Labour and the independent vote allowing us to pick up maximum seats. That was the intent, though by now you know that we gained nothing and held nothing. Was this down to fraud, or to a new-style Labour campaign? We only saw the tip of their iceberg and we could not compete with the extent of and the ferocity of the attack they launched at us, from unions, schools, churches and voluntary groups, Hope not Hate and Searchlight and the possible tens if not hundred thousand pounds they threw into the battle to unseat us. Furthermore, information from the independents indicated that coach loads of people appeared to have been bussed in from outside the Borough to vote.
Evidence of fraud was found and passed on to Scotland Yard. We are awaiting their response. However, we did not have the manpower to do a full search of all 17 wards to discover just what level of electoral fraud may have taken place.
Unfortunately, during the latter months of the election campaign, it was clear that a leadership challenge would be imminent. What pressure was put on activists along with the decentralisation of London activists, I cannot tell. All that can be said is that we lost our core vote, with Labour managing to attain an extra 2000 votes per candidate on top of their 2006 results.
With assistance from the BNP legal team we discovered that a Labour candidate elected in Goresbrook was in fact disqualified at the point of nomination. Within the 21 days allotted for lodging an electoral petition, we worked round the clock to have her disqualified and at the 11th hour she resigned her position and a by-election was called in my ward of Goresbrook.
The by-election was to be held on July 8th. Our intent was that of having below the radar low profile canvassing campaign, using the previous month’s canvass returns of Goresbroook, and the results from the marked register. However, at this point the leadership challenge was moving into its full fury, consequently, activists across the nation were split, especially here in London, resulting in a pitiful turnout. Some may say this was due to the fact of my not taking sides in the leadership challenge, where I had showed an early indication of possible support for Eddy Butler, so much so that I had considered as standing as his running-mate. However, after a meeting in West London, I discovered the full extent of the contempt they held for me- because of my dyslexia and fancying a drink now and then. (Who is the pin-up for the BNP? Winston Churchill- who just happened to be a dyslexic, and, as we all know, he liked his drink, far more than I do!). I then decided not to support any campaign but to sit out. So, amidst all this turmoil, Eddy Butler started the election campaign for Goresbrook. In the first 2 weeks of a 5 week campaign, we had dribs and drabs of people turning up. I take my hat off to Richard Edmond’s support and others’, but it was too few too late. I then made the conscious decision to take the support of the new National Elections Officer, and the good folk of the north west, north east and the south west to come and shore up the campaign. We managed 3 sweeps of the 5 but no re-knocks. On the day of the election, up until 9.30 pm we barely managed to whip in the yeses and possibles. If I had got the 1400 votes that that I got in May election we would have taken the seat back. The turnout dropped from 70% to 24%. It was an uphill task, Labour once again bringing out through negative telephone canvassing, their minority voters. We lost.
What will become of Barking and Dagenham in the future is hard to tell. The electorate are all good folk but they have chosen their medicine and now they will have to swallow the bitter pill of Labour’s 100% council control. At what cost to the Party was the Goresbrook by-election lost?
As for myself, I will endeavour to assist where and how I can as a member of the GLA, the good people of the Borough. We have to learn from our mistakes and those of the headstrong egos of our party, how not to make similar mistakes. As for this leadership challenge, I hope it is resolved swiftly and in both good spirit and nature.
Yesterday, 14th July, I was sacked as the Barking and Dagenham Branch Organiser.
Those who have an interest in what I have achieved over the last 5 years and my membership of 11 years, WATCH THIS SPACE…