September 11, 2009

British Legion accepts BNP gift

The Royal British Legion has accepted a donation from a member of the British National Party, after earlier this year seeking to distance itself from the party with a full-page advert in the national press.

The donation illustrates a dilemma faced by a number of ex-servicemen's charities which have been approached by the BNP.

The money was raised by a BNP member called Rachel Firth, who spent 24 hours on the street in a cardboard box to raise it. The problem was that she donated half of her funds to the BNP, and half to the Legion. The Legion says Rachel assured them the donation would not be exploited politically. But it was then splashed on the BNP website. Simon Darby, the BNP spokesman, denies exploiting the story.

"It's funny how when we're involved, campaigning on an issue turns to cynically exploiting. But that's the spin we have to endure, said Mr Darby. "I don't mind being accused of cynically exploiting the issue as long as the issue gets some coverage."

But this is also embarrassing for the Legion, which initially rejected the donation and then had a change of heart. Furthermore, in June it posted a full-page advert in a national newspaper, accusing BNP leader Nick Griffin of politicising the poppy and asking him to stop wearing it. The Legion declined to make anyone available for interview about the donation. But it has said it will not return the money.

The case illustrates a dilemma faced by other service charities approached by the BNP. Tommy Moffat runs FEBA, a charity which is negotiating £50,000 a year from the BNP to keep open its veterans' drop-in centre in Hamilton, Lanarkshire.

'We're at the bottom of the darkest pit, where we could close the doors within the next two to three weeks, and it would be a tragedy for our ex-service personnel. We're desperate," he says.

Mr Moffat will discuss the matter further with Nick Griffin, next week. But he is clearly anxious about taking money from the party. "They're a legitimate party. We don't agree with a lot of what they say. But let me put it this way. It's either risking our reputation or risking that there are ex-servicemen wandering the streets wondering where help is coming from."

The BNP is also offering support to Help for Heroes. Nick Griffin said last weekend the party was planning to auction two books signed by Andy McNab, the former SAS member, and donate the proceeds to the charity.

''Help for Heroes is a strictly non-political charity, we are only concerned with providing direct, practical support for our wounded servicemen and women,'' the charity said in a statement. ''We accept donations from all who wish to join us in providing that support and we make grants that will benefit all who are injured in the service of our country, regardless of colour or creed.''

Mr McNab has since said he does not want his books to be used by the BNP.

Other charities feel donations by the party are simply inappropriate. Ron Smith, who is head of Veterans Scotland, an umbrella group for ex-servicemen's charities north of the border, said he did not think his members would welcome donations from the BNP as "many of our veterans fought in a major world war against a fascist regime".

He added: "Look at the armed forces and you have multi-ethnicity. What would you do with BNP money - not spend it on soldiers of Afro-Caribbean descent? It's a complete nonsense. We're very saddened they (other charities) feel they have to take this money, and they obviously have to clear their own consciences."

Of course the BNP is a completely legal party with elected representatives. But its efforts to make donations to charities dealing with the welfare of former servicemen are clearly raising difficult questions.



TM said...

Shameful. The RBL is getting nothing from me in future.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Johnson Beharry thinks of this development...

Anonymous said...

The RBL has taken its thirty pieces of silver. Traitors.

Anonymous said...

BNP considering giving £50 000 a year to keep a home open for ex-servicemen? Where would they get this kind of money?
Or is it just talking about it to milk the publicity, then 'unfortunately' have to 'withdraw' their offer due to 'interference' from 'the left wing/unions/labour party' when asked to stump up the cash?

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked that the RBL would stoop this low.


Sorry but that's the only word that fits.

Anonymous said...

I dont really understand Electoral law or Charity law, but, if that organisation in Hamilton were able to get £50,000 out of the BNP who are however much we hate it recognised as a political party.

Could this not be seen as buying votes????????

Would it not be perceived that all of the ex-servicemen would be expected to suffer the indoctrination by the BNP for the money, and would there not be an expectation that they would then vote BNP and encourage family and friends to do the same.

As the saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch.

And as we all know Griffin does not have a charitable bone in his body.

There will be a cost? is this ex servicemens organisation prepared to deal with the devil?


Pete Green said...

I'd suggest that LU readers write in to complain vigorously about this. Here's the email form

I wonder how much the donation was and if the RBL will consider taking it worthwhile after they see how many people it has angered.

Dave T said...

"Tommy Moffat runs FEBA, a charity which is negotiating £50,000 a year from the BNP to keep open its veterans' drop-in centre in Hamilton, Lanarkshire."

A couple of questions. How the hell can the BNP afford to hand over £50,000 a year? And have the membership been consulted?

Of course this could all be bullshit for media consumption and the BNP could actually have no intention of handing over £50kpa.

Jamie The Antifascist said...

I fear this case may cause a split from within the RBL, I highly doubt many of our old veterans that fought against Hitler would start to take shine to our version of Hitler...

Anonymous said...

Fucking outragous.

JC said...

Good one Pete, thanks. Complain everyone.

khfged said...

"There will be a cost? is this ex servicemens organisation prepared to deal with the devil?"

Sadly it looks like it.

eric the fish said...

I don't think this is time for boycotting the RBL or Poppy Day as this will play into the hands of the Far Right as they hitch a ride on good causes.

My view is that we, as individuals or as a group - should offer to replace the money raised.

The RBL has been naive over this as they were under the impression that it was a private donation but just happened to be used as propaganda on BNP sites later!

Note that H4H are also linked to by the EDL on its site with some money from 'No Surrender' shirts going to the charity.

The great problem is with these types of fundraising there is no way of knowing the percentage given. It's a bit like those non-charity bags we get for 'poor East Europeans' and Xmas cards giving 0.01% of proceeds.

Morally, I think they should refuse the cash but you can see why they want money desperately. The challenge is to persuade them that this is blood money.

Green Gordon said...

So the RBL decide to keep the money to avoid turfing people out and somehow it's their fault? Are you all shaking tins on street corners collecting for them? It would be very romantic for them to close rather than accept fash money, but they'd be neglecting their duty of care.

So the response to not give them any more more money? You're giving them an ultimatum "Accept fash money or shut down". Some of these people fought the bloody nazis.

Mr P said...

This is bloody filthy. I'm ashamed of the Royal British Legion - something I never thought I'd say.

Anonymous said...

"Some of these people fought the bloody nazis."

And that's precisely why the RBL should NOT have taken a penny from the likes of the BNP. Does this mean that the RBL is happy with the likes of Mark Collett, Hitler-worshipper?

iliacus said...

The British Legion (and the other charities) are put in a difficult position by all this - and I don't think it serves any purpose to denounce them.

It's the BNP we should be denouncing and wherever this issue arises we should point out :

People of all sorts of political views (and of none!) support service charities in many ways. In my own area I have seen Labour, Conservative and Liberal councillors and members backing these good causes.

The difference is that unlike the BNP they don't then go trying to publicise it for party political purposes.

Anonymous said...

I will not be buying a poppy this year.

Old Sailor

Anonymous said...

Disgraceful. I'm ashamed at the RBL.

Anonymous said...

FFS, the RBL have made a big mistake here.

Mike H. said...

"Some of these people fought the bloody nazis."

And that's precisely why the RBL should NOT have taken a penny from the likes of the BNP. Does this mean that the RBL is happy with the likes of Mark Collett, Hitler-worshipper?

Sadly that has to be the assumption. What next? Will the RBL be accepting donations from the National Front? The BPP? The Adolf Hitler Fan Club? They're fools to have taken this money. My donations will go to Oxfam in future.

Anonymous said...

WHOA, as an ex servicewoman myself I would just say please dont punish the greater number for the stupidity of the few.

Many of the senior committee etc of the RBL have been foolish over this, but, in all honesty you cannot and should not turn against all ex service personnel just because of that.

What might be a stronger and more satisfactory way of dealing with it is to get the membership of the Legion to get vocal and let them tell their organisation where they can stick the money.