Nick Griffin has reshuffled several of the top positions in his dysfunctional British National Party in an attempt to maintain control, reward his supporters and sideline any criticism of his dictatorship.
Chris Beverley has been sacked as regional organiser of the big Yorkshire and The Humber region, one of the two that elected BNP representatives to the European Parliament in 2009. His replacement is Ian Kitchen, the party’s Wakefield organiser and Griffin loyalist. The BNP claims this will allow Beverley to spend more time on his European constituency job for Andrew Brons, the region’s BNP MEP.
Eddy Butler, who was expelled from the BNP after unsuccessfully challenging Griffin for the leadership last year, took a more jaundiced view. Claiming the party was desperate for Beverley not to show up Jefferson by achieving a better result in the coming Barnsley by-election than in Oldham, he added: “Chris Beverley was one of the last remaining competent Regional Organisers, one of the last capable election campaigners and one of the last independent voices left on the Advisory Council. As such his replacement was inevitable and long overdue.”
Stephen Squire has taken over as the party’s London organiser after serving a six-month apprenticeship under Griffin himself, who stepped in as the acting London organiser after the party’s May election debacle and the departures of a series of previous organisers.
Clive Jefferson has given up his job as North West regional organiser, to spend more time on the elections department, according to the BNP. The party’s elections function is sorely in need of competent leadership after a string of by-election failures, but whether Jefferson will be able to devote any more time to it is unclear. He also heads the BNP’s failing treasury department, which for three years has failed to maintain anything near adequate financial records, resulting in the party failing to achieve clean audit reports for 2008 and 2009, with 2010 expected to be similar.
In addition Jefferson, who has difficulty writing coherently, has just been appointed editor of the party’s Voice of Freedom newspaper, replacing Martin Wingfield, who Butler says is very “much out of favour”, though he remains communications and campaigns officer for Griffin’s European constituency.
Jefferson’s replacement in the North West region is Mike Whitby, the party’s Liverpool organiser. Whitby became Liverpool organiser at a heated branch meeting last July when Jefferson kicked out all the existing officers in a purge of dissidents. They had committed the crime of supporting Butler’s challenge.
Whitby seems suitably qualified to move the party towards the “increased militancy” that Griffin promised last December. After clashes between BNP activists and anti-fascists in Liverpool, which resulted in an assault conviction for one BNP man, Whitby promised that anti-fascists’ identities would end up on “a website far worse than Red Watch”, the hate site that encourages supporters to attack anti-fascists and their homes and families.
Another post Jefferson has given up is National Organiser, which has gone to Adam Walker, who also regains his job as staff manager. Walker works closely with Patrick Harrington, Griffin’s old mate from their days in the National Front Political Soldiers. Harrington was appointed the BNP’s head of human resources last autumn, but appears to act more as a general manager for Griffin. Many party members resent Harrington’s presence at the helm because he remains leader of a rival political party, albeit a very small one.
Butler claims that Walker was promoted “just to boost his profile in case he is needed as an alternative Chairman, should something ghastly in the realms of the judiciary happen to Nick Griffin”.
Finally, Jennifer Matthys, Griffin’s eldest daughter, is gradually assuming a greater role and now runs all party operations from a small office in Wigton, Cumbria. But according to Butler, “not enough money is coming in each week to cover the basics, via the appeals that Pat Harrington is now tasked with producing”. Perhaps engineering the departure of Jim Dowson, Griffin’s fundraising consultant, and Paul Golding, the party’s former national communications officer, was not one of Harrington’s smartest moves.
After Griffin announced last summer that he would relinquish the leadership of the party in 2013, speculation mounted that he was grooming her as his replacement, following the example of Marine Le Pen, who has just succeeded her father as leader of the National Front in France. However unlike Ms Le Pen, a lawyer who has held senior roles in the party for over 12 years and has built a firm political base as a regional councillor, Matthys has few qualifications for leadership and is unlikely to be accepted by party members in that role for some considerable time.
Searchlight / HOPE not hate by Sonia Gable