Several days on from the BNP "Reform Group" conference, from which much was expected by grass roots Reform supporters, it seems that not much has changed at all.
Following an apparently divine "gala dinner" at a Rotherham hotel, the reformers largely rehashed what they have been rehashing for the better part of four months. Speaker after speaker had little new to say, and even Richard Edmonds, endlessly fiddling with his ubiquitous bits of paper, could only repeat that which has been said a hundred times before - basically that the BNP is bust.
What was conspicuous by its absence was any idea of how the reformers are to move themselves out of the rut in which they have been stuck ever since Eddy Butler meekly accepted his failure in the Griffin-devised and rigged leadership nomination process.
The only real fruit of the reformers' weekend of restatement and repetition to come to light so far is an almost meaningless "Proposed Mission Statement and Objectives" that could be adopted by almost every extreme-right party that ever was. Unfortunately, the reformers are not a political party but a faction within one. The "Proposed Mission Statement and Objectives" has no relevance at all to the struggle in which they are engaged - or allegedly engaged, - which is primarily to topple Nick Griffin.
How this is to be done - if it can be done at all - remains stubbornly opaque. However, if the reformers' accusations of financial wrong-doing at the top of the BNP are true then they cannot seriously expect that Nick Griffin will ever permit any leadership challenge to go ahead if that challenge had even the remotest chance of success. It would either be quashed or effectively deconstitutionalised (to mint a word). Griffin has already mooted the possibility of raising the number of nomination signatures required to 25% of the voting membership.
Quite simply, if there is fraud at the heart of the BNP then its alleged instigator is hardly likely to hand over the accounting books that could see him go to gaol. That will never happen and the reformers must know it.
And if they know it, then the "Proposed Mission Statement and Objectives" take on a very different hue.
They have every appearance of being the founding principles of a new right-wing party, and it is very likely that whichever personalities among the reformers pushed them at the weekend conference intend that this is exactly what they become.
It is known that leading reformer Peter Mullins is among those who believe that the BNP cannot be redeemed and, with its impossible debts, is hardly worth saving. He is clearly sympathetic to the view that a new party is the Reform Group's best and probably only option. How that would sit in the Tyndallite heart of BNP founder member Richard Edmonds, incongruously allied with many who would show him the door tomorrow, is unclear. What is certain is that those of the dominant "moderate" nationalist and minority Tyndallite/hardline strands, no matter how united they may be against Nicholas Griffin, will not for very long enjoy harmony once the object of their antipathy has been removed or left behind.
No matter how often the protestation is made that things are going on "behind the scenes", sooner or later the all too apparent lack of visible and constructive activity will lead to loss of interest, which is evidently beginning to afflict the reformers. To hold a "gala dinner" and a conference at which nothing much at all happened and no real plans were announced was something of a folly, rather like hyping up a sales force and then sending them out into the world without an idea of what it is they are expected to sell.
Is the Reform Group clinging on to the BNP to maximise its numbers when the time comes to break away, or do enough of them remain convinced that a leadership challenge next summer can be mounted successfully? Or are they, as some Griffinites assert, remaining in situ to keep the BNP paralysed over much of the country - which is effectively the case at the moment - for reasons either spiteful or sinister, depending on the level of paranoia afflicting those making the assertion?
Nobody seems any the wiser.
If the Reform Group gives any appearance at all of doing well then the fact that the mainstream BNP is doing so badly probably accounts for it. As we have noted previously, such BNP activity as there is seems to be concentrated in the Griffin-controlled (via Clive Jefferson) north west, and to involve very small numbers of people (often the same people).
The BNP claims that 60 people attended a meeting in Bolton addressed by Nick Griffin on the same day as the Reform Group conference, a dubious figure not supported by video and audio evidence. Later the BNP attempted to pass the meeting off as a quite ordinary branch gathering, failing to mention the feverish 'phone calls, text messages and emails that had gone out in a desperate effort to increase attendance.
And of course there were the derisory 60-ish who, in answer to a national call to arms, turned up outside the High Court to support Griffin, Simon Darby and Tanya Lumby, all allegedly in danger of going to gaol. That turnout alone tells us what a parlous state the BNP is in and how corroded support for Griffin is - but never fear, the badly over-worked BNP excuse machine was soon in action and some members seemed to believe, in all seriousness, that Bob Crow had deliberately timed the London Tube strike to scotch the plans of BNP members who would otherwise have arrived outside the High Court in their thousands to support their beloved leader.
The reformers received a much needed fillip on Thursday when veteran racist and wiggist John Bean, editor of the currently missing Identity magazine, permitted Eddy Butler to publish the contents of a letter sent by Bean to Griffin on August 28th calling upon Griffin to stand down as party leader.
Bean, who only joined the BNP following the overthrow of John Tyndall, is at 83 possibly the longest serving active British fascist still alive. He later clarified his position, saying that Griffin should remain as BNP chairman, but as part of an elected executive committee - an idea rejected as unrealistic by Butler.
Butler is hopeful that Bean's intervention will prove a "real breakthrough", since "I know that other people, who still retain senior positions in the party fully support John’s stance."
Griffin himself has taken no further action against the suspended reformers, who continue to await their tribunals. I am told by a seasoned anti-fascist that Griffin is terribly unsure of those who surround him, and fears that precipitate action will set in train a further breaking of ranks that would prove fatal, especially if Andrew Brons were to be provoked enough to publicly endorse the reformers. Butler, who is on the best of terms with Brons (he is employed by Brons, after all), and who continues to enjoy friendly relations with many apparent Griffin loyalists, may well be playing a waiting game, fairly certain that as funds dry up, debts mount, votes evaporate and patience with the Griffin-Dowson nexus drains away, the last remants of meaningful support for Griffin will crumble, John Bean's letter to Griffin being the first tangible sign that the process is underway.
On Saturday the BNP begins its Griffin devised “Support Our Troops, Bring Our Boys Home” campaign, which, allegedly, the "Establishment" fears. Equally allegedly "90 units" of the BNP will be taking part - note that: not 90 branches or 90 groups (which the BNP no longer has), but 90 conveniently undefined "units". The campaign has less to do with bringing the troops home than it does with giving an illusion of widespread BNP activity to help shore up Griffin's grass roots support. There will be glowing reports, photographs, ridiculous claims of huge public support and large numbers of new members signed up.
Since the BNP made no headway at all using the same theme during the general election it seems almost perverse that Nick Griffin should expend time and precious resources staging a re-run when the stand out issues of the day are those of swingeing government cuts and an attendant looming huge rise in unemployment. Griffin appears determined to miss another obvious political boat.
So, while the Reform half of the BNP does whatever it is the reformers are, or are not doing, the mainstream half intends to waste its time bothering the public with a cock-eyed campaign that has no real purpose beyond that of demonstrating the sterling leadership qualities of Nicholas Griffin to his shrinking band of followers.
Or so he hopes.