One of the last remaining founder members of the BNP has quit the party to rejoin the miniscule and almost moribund National Front. Richard Edmonds returns to the NF after leaving them in acrimonious circumstances to help form the British National Party over thirty years ago.
Seventy year old Edmonds, a former school teacher, is one of Britain’s most notorious and hard line Holocaust deniers and one of a number of people now deserting the Andrew Brons faction in the BNP after Brons was narrowly defeated by Nick Griffin in the recent leadership elections. Edmonds had stood aside to allow Brons to challenge to Griffin, and is believed to have grown impatient as the Brons camp dithered over forming a new party.
Edmonds made his reputation as a notorious and controversial orator during the 1980’s when as the right hand man of then BNP leader John Tyndall, the BNP fermented racial hatred and an openly Nazi party saw a number of people including Tyndall, imprisoned under the race relations act. Edmonds also financed the opening of the BNP’s controversial head office in Welling south London and the distribution of the hate sheet Holocaust News that poured scorn on not just the Holocaust, but also the memory and testimonies of victims of the Nazi regime.
In 1993 Edmonds was jailed for a racist attack in Tower Hamlets, east London, when a black man walking with a white woman had the audacity to walk past Edmonds and a group of BNP supporters who had been attending a violent BNP mobilization in the area.
A long time opponent of Nick Griffin, Edmonds had initially been suspended from the party not long after Nick Griffin assumed the leadership of the BNP in 1999. After Tyndall’s death in 2005 Edmonds found his way back into the BNP and even found himself on the party’s advisory committee, described as a “veteran nationalist” which would appear to be BNP vernacular for ‘unreconstructed neo-Nazi on his best behaviour’. Despite his history, Edmonds was one of the “veteran nationalists” who conceded that legally there was little point in the party resisting the legal obligation to allow party membership to non-whites.
In a difficult week for the BNP’s leader, the departure of Edmonds may prove to be one bright spot. Edmonds had over the last year slipped comfortably back into the anti-Griffin camp as a self appointed spokesperson for keeping alive the memory of his mentor and former master John Tyndall. Tyndall died while facing the courts alongside Griffin on charges of inciting racial hatred while at the same time, fighting a battle to be readmitted back into the party he had founded.
With Edmonds goes the bulk of the Croydon branch of the BNP. Once one of the largest and most active BNP branches in the country, it was through Croydon BNP that Nick Griffin made his entry into the BNP. The Croydon branch of the BNP is a potent mix of former NF hardliners who moved into the BNP in the early nineties, former NF “political soldiers” who followed Griffin into the BNP and other long term racists and fascists. The Croydon far-right scene has long been susceptible to the charms of far-right radicals and extremists, from as far back to before even the NF was formed. A large chunk of those moving into the NF appear to be either suspended or ex-BNP members. The branch had been acting independently of the BNP for some time.
On hearing that Edmonds had finally jumped ship, Nick Griffin tweeted "Good that old hardcore cranks leaving with baggage. Shocking they time it to help the BBC though.” It must have been a really bad week of “timing” as far as Griffin is concerned. The party has been rocked by among other things, the death of its former treasurer only a few days from the potential nuclear meltdown for the party that is the Panorama programme on the BBC.
How the NF will accommodate the rabid actions and demands of über-activists like Edmonds and co remains to be seen. They do not even produce a regular mass circulation newspaper or leaflets.
Edmonds and Brons will no doubt have plenty to talk about at the John Tyndall memorial meeting later this month.
Thanks to Matthew Collins at HOPE not Hate