Once upon a time, there was Oswald Mosley's Hitler-loving “British Union of Fascists”. Following a World War against Hitler, which somewhat dented their electoral popularity (although their vote probably still holds up in rural pockets of North Yorkshire and the Home Counties), Mosley founded the “Union Movement”. Figures from the UM, led by Arch-Nazi A K Chesterton, later split and went on to give it another go with the “League of Empire Loyalists”.
Following more splits, disagreements (and still not a sniff of electoral success) in the LEL, the “National Front” came into being.
The NF, under the rancid leadership of the purple-necked John Tyndall (and by associating itself with the rabble-rousing racism of Enoch Powell), managed to mobilise a brief resurgence of the Far-Right during the 1970's, but were soon shown the door by a massively bigger, broadly-based campaign in the form of the Anti Nazi League and it's hugely successful offshoot, “Rock Against Racism”.
Internal squabbles (and plotting by young leader Nick Griffin) led, in a now-familiar pattern, to the birth of the BNP.
Years of financial mismanagement, despotic behaviour and yet more plotting (this is, after all, a man who probably wakes up, tells Jackie he'd like cereal for breakfast and then spends the next half-hour working behind her back, starting online smear campaigns and forming various short-lived alliances to ensure that he gets eggy bread...) finally, and inevitably, led to the mother of all splits.
And so, in 2010, amid great fanfare, with a shiny, friendly logo, a stock library photo that made its membership look exactly 300% more attractive and pleasant than they actually are and powered by the hopes, dreams and Paypal clicks of slight-witted racists (but not TOO racist – that's their USP, you see...) across the nation, the “British Freedom Party” was born, helped into the world by midwives Simon Bennett and Lee Barnes.
Sweeping all asunder as it powered its way to the heart of British politics, the BFP soon boasted a staggering (well, at least a couple of them enjoy a drink) 30+ Members. (There are those who say it could be twice that. Tremble, o ye Lefties!) The new force in Nationalism hit the ground running and wasted no time at all in fomenting discord within its ranks and having splits of its own.
Given that the Left has a reputation (albeit somewhat deserved) for splits and divisions (which, I might add, are entirely the fault of the Fabian Society. All the rest of us – especially me and people I happen to like – are completely blameless, you understand...), it's nice to see that our fallings-out pale into insignificance compared to the Permanent State Of Total War that exists at the other end of the spectrum.
Simon Bennett, self-styled hero of the Far Right, has (as has been pointed out before) a few funny little ways about him. In much the same way as the man who used to live in Derby (name of “Cosmic” Ray) and wore a skullcap fashioned from copper wire that enabled him, he claimed, to communicate with the Aliens who lived beneath Stonehenge, had his own “funny little ways”.
Aside from paranoia (a current concern is that he could be subject to attacks from Cornish Jihadists. Of which there are, in his own imagination, many.) , an obsessive nature and a very thin skin, Bennett has something of a temper on him. In fact, if politics were run in the real world like they are in the parallel dimension of the Bennettverse, we might get Hansard recording exchanges like:
Mr Edward Miliband (Lab Doncaster North): Does the Prime Minister not feel that more should be done to ease the burden of the less fortunate of our country, and that it is the rich who should pay?
Mr David Cameron (Con Witney): I thank the Honourable Member for his question, and would remind the **** that I know where he lives and he'll be getting a ******* visit from me and my ******* housebrick if he don't button it. I done it before, I did, and he should see the state I left the **** in that time.
On his own, Simon Bennett (like Griffin before him) is enough to spell doom for any outfit he latches onto. Team him with Barnes, however, and it's as though someone just hit a fresh, rich vein of new chuckles in a comedy goldmine that just opened in your back garden.
(He recently claimed to have "Some people very worried!" No-one's "worried", as yet, by the mighty army of the BFP. Very, very amused, maybe, but not exactly "worried".)
Barnes, with his background of wonderfully inept poetry, execrable attempts at novels and Tourettes-like swearing, sees himself as the intellectual wing of the Party, and he's long argued the case for the Far Right to “reach out” to the electorate by presenting as friendly and approachable a face as possible.
A notable example of Barnes p.r manner was this friendly, approachable post:
“Now shut the **** up you pathetic whining maggots.”
Or how about “Just shut the **** up you boring gobshite ****.”
Gosh. It's like Kofi Annan, reborn.
With this pair beavering away behind the scenes, it's little wonder that the BFP have been shedding personnel (Chairs, Treasurers, etc) like there's no tomorrow. Or like the BNP. Which actually amounts to much the same thing.
The Holy Grail, of course, for all of the movers behind any of these short-lived, shabby little outfits, is to draw a salary and make a living from their followers. Griffin has set the benchmark here, as the first “Nationalist” since the days of Mosley to make a (very) comfortable living off the backs of racists and, as the BNP ship sinks there are sure to be plenty of others looking to take up where Griffin left off...
Born from splits, and they're dying the same way. In the case of the BFP, however, as they get ever smaller, there's at least the consolation that scientists will possibly use the phenomenon as the impetus to develop ever more powerful detection equipment; machines that can detect particles tinier that hitherto dreamt of...
Personally, my money's on a “relaunch” sometime soon before finally imploding at some point in 2011.
On the plus side: Once the BFP are out of the way, we can at least get back to taking the piss out of the Green Arrow.