Despite promise after promise that this year it would be different, the BNP has yet again failed to submit an annual statement of accounts to the Electoral Commission, incurring an automatic minimum £500 fine. The party's Regional Accounting Unit has also failed to submit accounts and will be fined a minimum of £100.
In a statement made earlier today (Thursday) by the Electoral Commission, Chief Executive Peter Wardle said:
Most parties and accounting units submitted their accounts on time; one [the SDLP] made what we hope will prove to be a one-off mistake and will face a fine for late submission. But two parties have repeatedly failed to put information about their income and expenditure into the public domain on time.Joining the BNP in the doghouse is the tiny Christian Party.
That is not acceptable, and as well as fining these two parties for late submission, we will be monitoring them closely to try to ensure they meet the same standards of reporting as the others. The sanctions we currently have available to deal with this sort of non-compliance are limited, but we look forward to Parliament giving final approval to a wider range of sanctions, before the end of this year.
Should the BNP fail to submit its accounts within the next three months the fines levied on the party will double, as they did last year when the party played fast and loose with the EC's patience (and its own members' subscriptions and donations).
Ever since the spotlight fell firmly on the BNP's finances post-general election, Nick Griffin has been going out of his way to give an impression that all is well and that this year the accounts, now - allegedly - under the management of a professional accountant, would be submitted as required. Griffin must have been aware for some time that this would not be the case.
Cynics dissecting the series of self-serving treatises put out by Griffin post-election, forecast that the BNP accounts would again be late, since Griffin continually harped on about the complexity of the party's financial operations and the difficulties inherent in keeping them in order, and seemed to be laying down an advance trail of plausible excuses.
This may also explain why a clearly uncomfortable David Hannam, the party's national treasurer, has been pushed to the fore in the past week, being chivvied, we strongly suspect, into making a video for the BNP website and issuing a statement on behalf of his treasury department which promises much but clarifies little. The emailed version is "From Chairman Nick Griffin", and while we don't suppose he did more than outline what he expected the statement to contain, it's also difficult to believe that Hannam's is the only hand involved.
Nick Griffin having conveniently departed the country for a holiday, explanations for the lateness of the BNP's accounts will be sought from Hannam, who may be wondering if he hasn't been set up for a fall.
(For a fuller examination of this matter, see Sonia Gable's HNH/Searchlight article, republished here.)
In the meantime...
Humberside Police have dropped charges against sacked BNP publicity director Mark Collett (above, with Griffin), according to a post on leadership challenger Eddy Butler's blog. Collett was arrested on April 1st after Griffin had contacted the police claiming to have received death threats. A police statement made after Collett was bailed said: "This investigation was initiated as a result of a complaint by a member of the British National Party and inquiries are ongoing."
Clearly, no, or insufficient, evidence existed upon which a charge could be sustained.
At the time Nick Griffin sent out a hysterical email linking Collett not only with the utterance of alleged death threats but with financial impropriety and of being part of a "palace coup" about to be staged against his leadership. Despite claiming that he was unable to discuss the matter due to rules of "sub judice" (which was untrue), Griffin (ignoring sub judice as it suited him) instigated a widely ridiculed "inquiry" that was held on Easter Monday (April 5th), in which twelve dupes were sent off to "authenticate" a highly edited recording of the "death threats". Naturally, they gave the required answer.
Along with Collett, Eddy Butler and Emma Colgate were dismissed from their posts, and it is now apparent that the entire saga relates not to "death threats", the misappropriation of BNP monies on Collet's part or to "palace coups" but to allegations of serious financial wrong-doing at the top of the BNP, of which the trio had become aware.
News of Collett's arrest was deliberately leaked to the media from within the BNP just as the party's general and local election campaign was set to launch. How much damage was done to the BNP's vote as a result, and how much it was responsible for the loss of so many BNP councillors is difficult to tell, since we believe the BNP was always on course for a hiding at the ballot box.
It is self-evident to all but the most blind and sycophantic of Griffinites that the dodgy "death threat" episode, played out in the press and on television, was an enormous own goal on the part of the leadership, far more damaging than the fleeting loss of the party's website just before polling day. People may go to political websites in their hundreds, but they read newspapers and watch television in their millions.
With the charges dropped and any loyalties he might have held for Nick Griffin shattered, Mark Collett may well end his prolonged silence on the affair, an eventuality that on the surface can only benefit Eddy Butler. Butler is closer to Collett than he cares to admit, and thus far the Nazi Boy has been a peripheral, almost invisible figure, with very good reason. Collett is so widely reviled within the BNP that any open association between him and Butler would seriously damage Butler's leadership campaign. His open involvement in the campaign would almost certainly kill it. Collett, then, is of limited use to Butler, no matter how innocent he may be of the charges levelled against him by Griffin - though he may yet damage Griffin to the favour of Butler in an apparently independent "off stage" role.
The weight on Griffin's mind has been added to by news that the final part of the case he instigated (and has so far roundly lost) against the December Rebels will be heard at the High Court in Newcastle on November 29th.
Kenny Smith, one of the leading Decembrists, has reactivated the derelict Enough Is Enough website to announce that "Judgement Day is coming!"
Remarking that Griffin and Simon Darby "have tried every trick in the book, and indeed continue to invent new ways of delaying proceedings, to prevent the case they instigated at the Party's expense coming to trial", Smith gleefully adds:
Sadly for them, but happily for those who want to see justice done and the truth finally revealed in full, the trial has been fixed to start on Monday the 29th November 2010 at Newcastle High Court.The Decembrists, somewhat pre-empted as Griffinite bugging of their private conversations led to the exposure of their intentions, launched the last serious attempt at unseating Nick Griffin, but the campaign soon floundered through indecision and the want of firm leadership. Then as now, Griffin began expelling or suspending individual Decembrists on eminently challengable grounds. At the time we observed that just one challenge to Griffin's worthless writs of expulsion would stop him in his tracks and galvanise support for the rebels as hesitant individual members lost their fear of the Leader's edicts. It is a lesson Eddy Butler's supporters have failed to learn, as they allow themselves to be picked off one by one.
Kenny, Nicholla, Steve and Ian are all looking forward to their days in court and finally being able to expose Griffin and his cabal for what they are!
Griffin's smothering tactics worked at the time but disguised the extent of latent discontent within the party. Seemingly united for the Euro election campaign, the cracks soon began to show as the false foundations on which the Euro success had been built were exposed by ever worsening votes which reflected the BNP's true electoral position, and by Griffin's inept approach to the EHRC case. The awful Question Time appearance, the dislodging of PPCs in favour of party "names", the wild allegations against Collett, thuggish behaviour towards journalists and others, the needless courting of Unilever litigation, the general and local election rout have all done for Griffin what the Decembrists never could.
He did it all himself. And if he really were a leader of vision, the genius of strategy he is so frequently claimed to be, then he would have known that cutting off the Decembrist head while smothering Decembrist sentiment would leave hundreds within the BNP to brood and bide their time.
That they have done, for what else is Eddy Butler's campaign but the second coming of the Decembrists, with new leadership, bigger and badder than ever?