March 05, 2009

BNP scabbed on the miners

British National Party attempts to befriend the mining communities are in sharp contrast to their attitude during the miners' strike. Then, the racist BNP not only refused to back the strike but called for a return to work and even demanded the Army be brought in to deal with the pickets.

Even worse, a former BNP parliamentary candidate in Yorkshire once led a shadowy group that funded scab miners during the 1984 strike. The Dowager Lady Jane Birdwood (pictured) ran Self-Help, a right-wing pressure group dedicated to smashing trade unions. She went on to stand for the BNP in a general election in Dewsbury in the 1990s.

Birdwood was a life-long racist but she was better known for her rabid antisemitism. Her hatred of Jewish people, who she believed were trying to take over the world, got her prosecuted twice. Her far-right politics led her into alliances with Second World War Nazi collaborators, including people who had fought in the SS. The SS was the organisation that ran the concentration and death camps and carried out the worst Nazi atrocities.

Birdwood saw the miners' strike as a communist plot to take over the country and she set out to break it. She felt that Thatcher was too soft on the miners.

Documents obtained by Searchlight reveal how she set about to smash the strike. Soon after the strike started her group tried to prosecute Arthur Scargill, the miners' leader, for sedition, inciting violence and intimidation of working miners. They were even advised by a leading barrister to hire private detectives to spy on the NUM.

Gathering the evidence was a lengthy and costly business. To speed up the process they decided to buy into a small private mine and seek a confrontation with striking miners. Birdwood found many mine owners willing to help.

"So far we have eleven mine owners ready to negotiate," she gleefully told her supporters in July 1984. Once in control of a pit the group were going to take the NUM to court and seize its funds.

Birdwood eventually bought a share in a Durham mine but she was quickly overtaken by events as others had begun legal action to sequestrate the union's funds. That did not stop Birdwood and she went on to back several other legal actions.

"We are promoting and assisting a number of new applications to the courts for further injunctions, including the action by 16 supporters of the National Working Miners' Committee," her group boasted to supporters in December 1984.

This was not the first time Self Help had backed the Working Miners' Committee.

With the strike nearly over she reflected on a job well done. "By backing Silver Birch's Working Miners Committee we have played some part in the court actions against the NUM."

Birdwood also boasted of putting "certain proposals to the Working Miners' Committee which we hope will lead to them taking the necessary legal action with our financial and political support" to remove Scargill from the leadership of the NUM. However, she was always keen for Self-Help's role to be kept secret.

Birdwood's hatred of the NUM was shared by John Tyndall, then the BNP leader. He even suggested bringing in the Army to deal with striking Yorkshire miners. Even Nick Griffin, who was then in the National Front, has proved time and again that he is no friend of the trade unions and the miners in particular.

Twenty-five years on, the memory of the strike still burns strong. The miners were fighting for their jobs, their children and their communities. The BNP is now trying to gain support in the former mining communities but back in 1984, when it really mattered, it was doing everything it could to undermine the strike.

HOPE not hate


Anonymous said...

Birdwood was 100% nutcase and 100% evil.

Anonymous said...

The BNP has ALWAYS hated trade unions and still does. All this rubbish with Solidarity is just a scam, its absolutely nothing to do with supporting the workers. Anyway, what the hell would Nick Griffin (or most of the BNP leadership) know about working for a living?

Nick Griffin has nothing but contempt for the proletariat.

Anonymous said...

There are some pics of the strike here

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article, but one tiny inconsistency, there was no BNP in 1984!!!!


Anonymous said...

Birdwood was never a BNP member

Antifascist said...

'Brilliant article, but one tiny inconsistency, there was no BNP in 1984!!!!'

Perhaps you should read up on the history of the BNP. From its Wikipedia entry (constantly edited by the BNP itself);

'The current BNP has its roots in the New National Front, founded in 1980 by John Tyndall, a former chairman of the National Front. In 1982, the New National Front and a faction of the then-disintegrating British Movement led by Ray Hill merged to form the new British National Party. Tyndall was elected leader and Hill became his deputy, with much of the early funding provided by Tyndall's father-in-law, Charles Parker.

In 1983, in its first general election, the party sponsored 53 candidates...'

DOH yourself.

Antifascist said...

'Birdwood was never a BNP member'

The article doesn't say she was. She did however stand in the 1992 General Election for the BNP.

More info:

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, what the hell would Nick Griffin (or most of the BNP leadership) know about working for a living?"

Be fair. Wasn't Griffin once a shelf-stacker at Tesco?

Anonymous said...

IIRC it was Safeway not Tescos, in I believe Newtown, Powys:-)

Anonymous said...

Castel ward by election and its another 'gem' from woeful Wingfield:-

"......I'm certain that the BNP vote will be over 20% and that we should take 2nd place from Labour."

The reality

BNP come third.

Has Wingfield ever got anything right?

Anonymous said...

and BNP 4th in Belah Ward Carlisle.

Is the BNP still on ocurse for a Euro seat Wingfield?

It's got its work cut out based on these poor results in wards that the BNP were worked extremely hard. If those placings are the result of intense campaigning you can imagine the low vote the BNP will get in all the areas it cant leaflet in June.

Antifascist said...

'and BNP 4th in Belah Ward Carlisle.'

9.4%. Oops.

Anonymous said...

2 Antifascist...

I dont think they are gonna get a Euro seat, do you?

These results remember are after a lot of BNP effort and good publicity in the Indypendent. They are not very good for the BNP at all are they?

Anonymous said...

Wingfield wrong AGAIN... He Predicted OVER 20% in Castle.

BNP actually polled less than 20%.

19.7% to be exact

Anonymous said...

If the Birdwood story is told and retold south of Wakefield each year at election time, in areas where the strike was strong, the BNP won't win a single seat.

I hope Arthur Scargill himself can add his voice, to help campaign about the scab history of the racist BNP in the run up to the elections, to keep the neo-nazis out of Europe!

Antifascist said...

'I dont think they are gonna get a Euro seat, do you?'

I wouldn't dream of predicting what might happen though the risk is pretty high unless people make a concerted effort to fight the BNP's lies and bullshit and gets the opposition vote out on the day. It's hard work that's going to beat them, that's all.

Anonymous said...

"'I dont think they are gonna get a Euro seat, do you?"

"I wouldn't dream of predicting what might happen though the risk is pretty high "

I wont make a prediction but it's interesting to note that in a post on Stormfront someone has written that yesterdays BNP by-election results suggest that outside BNP target wards support may be a lot lower than the BNP believes it to be and not high enough for them to get an MEP.

Anonymous said...

but it's interesting to note that in a post on Stormfront someone has written

And we all know that Shitefront is a reliable source of information. . .

Anonymous said...

Fellow fascists used to refer to her as "Lady Birdseed", because she was a fruitloop.

Anonymous said...

"And we all know that Shitefront is a reliable source of information. . ."

Except the "information" comes from the BNPs polling figures on Thursday namely castle and beaulah wards in carlisle.

under 20% in a ward that the BNP did everything it oculd to win including loads of leaflets and a visit by Nickie himself.

Under 10% in Beaulah.

To win an MEP the BNP would need to poll over 10% in most areas there is nothing to suggest that NATIONALLY its support is higher than 7% at the most - and it could even be less.

Indeed in the Londonwide GLA it only managed to get just over 5%.

Thats the point the writer is making, that the BNP feels its support is higher than it truly is.

The 20%, 30% and 40% it sometimes gets in ISOLATED ward contests falls to below 5% in a wider area.

Take Bexley where it almost won a seat, if that resuly was projected across London then yes the BNP would secure a London MEP BUT as mentioned in the GLA, which included Bexley, it only got 5.2% which will not be enough to return an MEP.

Basing BNP support on the carefully selected wards it choose to fight is not a true indication of Nationwide BNP voting. The GLA givesa much clearer picture and a much lower BNP percentage.

The BNP WILL struggle to get an MEP. At the most it will get one, in an area where it needs less than 10% to win possibly North West, but here the BNP has chosen Griffin as lead and that could well be its undoing as all anti BNP activity will focus on Griffin and he has got some very embarassing background that will be exploited and cause his and the BNPs vote to dip quiote possibly to below 5% even.

That is the price the BNP will pay for its leaders vanity and ambition.

BNP nil points, no MEPs, no road to riches, no path to glory. Its nigh on an impossible dream for them and the money they will waste could wreck the party