British National Party declares war...on itself
Just over a year ago, the Brits woke up to discover that Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons from the far right had been elected as MEPs. Party leader Griffin declared that this was the beginning of a brave new world and got pelted with eggs on his way out of the count. Today, if there is any egg on their faces it is because they put it there themselves.
Since their arrival in Brussels the party has met with several challenges, not least a series of court cases, often from disgruntled former employees and the party is believed to be heavily in debt. One of the creditors is said to be a printing firm in Northern Ireland, who are rumoured to have sent some heavies round to Griffin’s home, demanding repayment.
With growing concern about the management of the party among members, Eddy Butler, one of Brons EP staff, challenged Griffin for the leadership, alleging financial irregularities and, amusingly for a party with a background in neo-fascism, accusations of a lack of internal democracy and alleging that Griffin was acting like a dictator. This led to a purge of anyone suspected of supporting Butler.
After the failure of the Butler campaign a new challenger arose, Richard Edmonds, formerly the editor of Holocaust News, which denied the genocide had occurred. He also has convictions for racial violence and told a journalist that the BNP was “100% racist”.
The battle in Brussels
Now, Brons has said he will challenge Griffin for the leadership of the sinking ship and has alleged that the leader has repeatedly tried to misuse EU funds. “In 2009, I was asked by our Chairman to share the expenses, from my European Parliamentary funding, of an office in Edinburgh for the use of Solidarity Chief and leading member of the National Liberal Party, Patrick Harrington,” Brons said.
“Furthermore, in December 2010, at the Annual Conference, a table was provided for the display of my first annual report and my MEP newsletters. I was not asked whether or not I wanted to have this facility; I was simply provided with it. Three weeks later I received an invoice for the sum of £500 from the Chairman’s wife.
“I was told that I should pay this amount from my General Expenditure Allowance – my office account. I refused to do, although I did seek advice on the matter from the financial authorities of the European Parliament. I have recently been informed by Clive Jefferson that I might be taken to the County Court for refusing to misuse European Parliamentary funding!
“In December 2010, I was asked by our Chairman and Clive Jefferson to employ, with European Parliamentary funding, Christopher Barnet, who was in charge of the Party’s Alfred programme to put canvassing returns onto a data base for future elections.
“I was told that he would ‘look after’ my website. I said that I wanted to know, from him, what precisely he would be doing for his salary. He never contacted me. Very recently, I received an invoice from Clive Jefferson for £2000 that was supposed to represent five months of ‘services.’ I told him that I had not entered into any contract with Mr. Barnet and to pay for unspecified services from European Parliamentary funds would be fraudulent.
Brons also revealed that OLAF are investigating Griffin.
In retaliation, Brons was asked to remove the BNP logo from his website, which may be a prelude to adding him to the long list of those ejected from the party.
The last throw of the dice
Griffin has announced a new campaign that will resurrect the party - a petition for a referendum on EU membership. He’s been a bit slow, UKIP, Nikki Sinclaire, Dan Hannan have already set up rival petitions on exactly the same call.
But there is something different about Griffin’s. He is boasting that he is using EP funding for it, but the website and all literature carry the same wording:
“We, the undersigned, demand a referendum on British membership of the European Union.
By signing this petition, I authorise Nick Griffin to send me further information on this and future campaigns”
It is impossible to opt out of this authorisation. It is likely that the real aim is to find potential new supporters and donors to the party. At the EU taxpayers expense. Those considering signing may wish to reflect on the party’s inability to keep its databases secret, there being several instances of supporters details being put online.
In the meantime, the membership is shrinking, the voters are ignoring them and the creditors are knocking on the door.