British National Party | Wikipedia audio article

British National Party | Wikipedia audio article


The British National Party (BNP) is a far-right,
fascist political party in the United Kingdom. It is headquartered in Wigton, Cumbria, and
its current leader is Adam Walker. A minor party, it has no elected representatives at
any level of UK government. Founded in 1982, the party reached its greatest level of success
in the 2000s, when it had over fifty seats in local government, one seat on the London
Assembly, and two Members of the European Parliament.
Taking its name from that of a defunct 1960s far-right party, the BNP was created by John
Tyndall and other former members of the fascist National Front (NF). During the 1980s and
1990s, the BNP placed little emphasis on contesting elections, in which it did poorly. Instead,
it focused on street marches and rallies, creating the Combat 18 paramilitary—its
name a coded reference to Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler—to protect its events from
anti-fascist protesters. A growing ‘moderniser’ faction was frustrated by Tyndall’s leadership,
and ousted him in 1999. The new leader Nick Griffin sought to broaden the BNP’s electoral
base by presenting a more moderate image, targeting concerns about rising immigration
rates, and emphasising localised community campaigns. This resulted in increased electoral
growth throughout the 2000s, to the extent that it became the most electorally successful
far-right party in British history. Concerns regarding financial mismanagement resulted
in Griffin being ousted in 2014. By this point the BNP’s membership and vote share had declined
dramatically, groups like Britain First had splintered off, and the English Defence League
had supplanted it as the UK’s foremost far-right group.
Ideologically positioned on the extreme-right or far-right of British politics, the BNP
has been characterised as fascist or neo-fascist by political scientists. Under Tyndall’s leadership,
it was more specifically regarded as neo-Nazi. The party is ethnic nationalist, and it espouses
the view that only white people should be citizens of the United Kingdom. It calls for
an end to non-white migration into the UK and for non-white Britons to be stripped of
citizenship and removed from the country. Initially, it called for the compulsory expulsion
of non-whites, although since 1999 has advocated voluntary removals with financial incentives.
It promotes biological racism and the white genocide conspiracy theory, calling for global
racial separatism and condemning interracial relationships. Under Tyndall, the BNP emphasised
anti-semitism and Holocaust denial, promoting the conspiracy theory that Jews seek to dominate
the world through both communism and international capitalism. Under Griffin, the party’s focus
switched from anti-semitism towards Islamophobia. It promotes economic protectionism, Euroscepticism,
and a transformation away from liberal democracy, while its social policies oppose feminism,
LGBT rights, and societal permissiveness. The BNP has a highly centralised structure
that gives its chairman near-total control. It established a range of sub-groups—such
as a youth wing, record label, and trade union—and built links with extreme-right parties across
Europe. Regarded as the most successful far-right party in British history, the BNP attracted
most support from within White British working-class communities in northern and eastern England,
particularly among middle-aged and elderly men. More widely, it was highly unpopular
and faced much opposition from anti-fascists, religious organisations, and mainstream politicians
and media. BNP members are banned from a number of professions, and polling suggested that
a majority of Britons favoured a ban on the party.==History=====
John Tyndall’s leadership: 1982–1999===The British National Party (BNP) was founded
by the extreme-right political activist John Tyndall. Tyndall had been involved in neo-Nazi
groups since the late 1950s before leading the far-right National Front (NF) throughout
most of the 1970s. Following an argument with senior party member Martin Webster, he resigned
from the NF in 1980. In June 1980 Tyndall established a rival, the New National Front
(NNF). At the recommendation of Ray Hill—who was secretly an anti-fascist spy seeking to
sow disharmony among Britain’s far-right—Tyndall decided to unite an array of extreme-right
groups as a single party. To this end, Tyndall established a Committee for Nationalist Unity
(CNU) in January 1982. In March 1982, the CNU held a conference at the Charing Cross
Hotel in London, at which 50 far-right activists agreed to the formation of the BNP.The BNP
was formally launched on 7 April 1982 at a press conference in Victoria. Led by Tyndall,
most of its early members came from the NNF, although others were defectors from the NF,
British Movement, British Democratic Party, and Nationalist Party. Tyndall remarked that
there was “scarcely any difference [between the BNP and NF] in ideology or policy save
in the minutest detail”, and most of the BNP’s leading activists had formerly been senior
NF figures. Under Tyndall’s leadership the party was neo-Nazi in orientation and engaged
in nostalgia for Nazi Germany. It adopted the NF’s tactic of holding street marches
and rallies, believing that these boosted morale and attracted new recruits. Their first
march took place in London on St. George’s Day 1982. These marches often involved clashes
with anti-fascist protesters and resulted in multiple arrests, helping to cement the
BNP’s association with political violence and older fascist groups in the public eye.
As a result, BNP organisers began to favour indoor rallies, although street marches continued
to be held throughout the mid-to-late 1980s. In its early years, the BNP’s involvement
in elections was “irregular and intermittent”, and for its first two decades it faced consistent
electoral failure. It suffered from low finances and few personnel, and its leadership was
aware that its electoral viability was weakened by the anti-immigration rhetoric of Conservative
Party Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In the 1983 general election the BNP stood 54
candidates, although it only campaigned in five seats. Although it was able to air its
first party political broadcast, it averaged a vote share of 0.06% in the seats it contested.
After the Representation of the People Act 1985 raised the electoral deposit to £500,
the BNP adopted a policy of “very limited involvement” in elections. It abstained in
the 1987 general election, and stood only 13 candidates in the 1992 general election.
In a 1993 local by-election the BNP gained one council seat—won by Derek Beackon in
the East London district of Millwall—after a campaign that played to local whites who
were angry at the perceived preferential treatment received by Bangladeshi migrants in social
housing. Following an anti-BNP campaign launched by local religious groups and the Anti-Nazi
League, it lost this seat during the 1994 local elections. In the 1997 general election,
it contested 55 seats and gained an average 1.4% of the vote.In the early 1990s, the paramilitary
group Combat 18 (C18) was formed to protect BNP events from anti-fascists. In 1992, C18
carried out attacks on left-wing targets like an anarchist bookshop and the headquarters
of the Morning Star. Tyndall was angered by C18’s growing influence on the BNP’s street
activities, and by August 1993, C18 activists were physically clashing with other BNP members.
In December 1993, Tyndall issued a bulletin to BNP branches declaring C18 to be a proscribed
organisation, furthermore suggesting that it may have been established by agents of
the state to discredit the party. To counter the group’s influence among militant British
nationalists, he secured the American white nationalist militant William Pierce as a guest
speaker at the BNP’s annual rally in November 1995. In the early 1990s, a “moderniser” faction
emerged within the party, favouring a more electorally palatable strategy and an emphasis
on building grassroots support to win local elections. They were impressed by the electoral
gains made by a number of extreme-right parties in continental Europe—such as Jörg Haider’s
Austrian Freedom Party and Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front—which had been achieved by
both switching focus from biological racism to the perceived cultural incompatibility
of different racial groups and by replacing anti-democratic platforms with populist ones.
The modernisers called for community campaigns among the white working-class populations
of London’s East End, and Northern England. While the modernisers gained some concessions
from the party’s hard-liners, Tyndall opposed many of their ideas and sought to stem their
growing influence. In his view, “we should not be looking for ways of applying ideological
cosmetic surgery to ourselves in order to make our features more appealing to the public”.===Nick Griffin’s leadership: 1999–2014
===After the BNP’s poor performance at the 1997
general election, opposition to Tyndall’s leadership grew. The modernisers called the
party’s first leadership election, and in October 1999 Tyndall was ousted when two-thirds
of those voting backed Nick Griffin, who offered an improved administration, financial transparency,
and greater support for local branches. Often characterised as a political chameleon, Griffin
had once been considered a party hardliner before switching allegiance to the modernisers
in the late 1990s. In his youth, he had been involved in the NF as well as Third Positionist
groups like Political Soldier and the International Third Position. Criticising his predecessors
for fuelling the image of the BNP as “thugs, losers and troublemakers”, Griffin inaugurated
a period of change in the party.Influenced by Le Pen’s National Front in France, Griffin
sought to widen the BNP’s appeal to individuals who were concerned about immigration but had
not previously voted for the extreme-right. The BNP replaced Tyndall’s policy of compulsory
deportation of non-whites to a voluntary system whereby non-whites would be given financial
incentives to emigrate. It downplayed biological racism and stressed the cultural incompatibility
of different racial groups. This emphasis on culture allowed it to foreground Islamophobia,
and following the September 11 attacks in 2001 it launched a “Campaign Against Islam”.
It stressed the claim that the BNP was “not a racist party” but an “organised response
to anti-white racism”. At the same time Griffin sought to reassure the party’s base that these
reforms were based on pragmatism and not a change in principle.Griffin also sought to
shed the BNP’s image as a single-issue party, by embracing a diverse array of social and
economic issues. Griffin renamed the party’s monthly newspaper from British Nationalist
to The Voice of Freedom, and established a new journal, Identity. The party developed
community-based campaigns, through which it targeted local issues, particularly in those
areas with large numbers of skilled white working-class people who were disaffected
with the Labour Party government. For instance, in Burnley it campaigned for lower speed limits
on housing estates and against the closure of a local swimming bath, while in South Birmingham
it targeted pensioners’ concerns about youth gangs. In 2006 the party urged its activists
to carry out local activities like cleaning up children’s play areas and removing graffiti
while wearing high-vis jackets emblazoned with the party logo.Griffin believed that
Peak Oil and a growth in Third World migrants arriving in Britain would result in a BNP
government coming to power by 2040. The close of the twentieth century produced
more favourable conditions for the extreme-right in Britain as a result of increased public
concerns about immigration and established Muslim communities coupled with growing dissatisfaction
with the established mainstream parties. In turn, the BNP gained rapidly growing levels
of support over the coming years. In July 2000, it came second in the council elections
for the North End of the London Borough of Bexley, its best result since 1993. At the
2001 general election it gained 16% of the vote in one constituency and over 10% in two
others. In the 2002 local elections the BNP gained four councillors, three of whom were
in Burnley, where it had capitalised on white anger surrounding the disproportionately high
levels of funding being directed to the Asian-dominated Daneshouse ward. This breakthrough generated
public anxieties about the party, with a poll finding that six in ten supported a ban on
it. In the 2003 local elections the BNP gained 13 additional councillors, including seven
more in Burnley, having attained over 100,000 votes. Concerned that much of their potential
vote was going to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), in 2003 the BNP offered UKIP an electoral
pact but was rebuffed. Griffin then accused UKIP of being a Labour Party scheme to steal
the BNP’s votes. They invested much in the campaign for the 2004 European Parliament
election, at which they gained 800,000 votes but failed to secure a parliamentary seat.
In the 2004 local elections, they secured four more seats, including three in Epping. For the 2005 general election, the BNP expanded
its number of candidates to 119 and targeted specific regions. Its average vote in the
areas it contested rose to 4.3%. It gained significantly more support in three seats,
achieving 10% in Burnley, 13% in Dewsbury, and 17% in Barking. In the 2006 local elections
the party gained 220,000 votes, with 33 additional councillors, having averaged a vote share
of 18% in the areas it contested. In Barking and Dagenham, it saw 12 of its 13 candidates
elected to the council. At the 2008 London Assembly election, the BNP gained 130,000
votes, reaching the 5% mark and thus gaining an Assembly seat. At the 2009 European Parliament
election, the party gained almost 1 million votes, with two of its candidates, Nick Griffin
and Andrew Brons, being elected as Members of the European Parliament for North West
England and Yorkshire and the Humber respectively. That election also saw extreme-right parties
winning seats for various other EU member-states. This victory marked a major watershed for
the party. Amid significant public controversy, Griffin was invited to appear on the BBC show
Question Time in October 2009, the first time that the BNP had been invited to share a national
television platform with mainstream panellists. Griffin’s performance was however widely regarded
as poor.Despite its success, there was dissent in the party. In 2007 a group of senior members
known as the “December rebels” challenged Griffin, calling for internal party democracy
and financial transparency, but were expelled. In 2008, a group of BNP activists in Bradford
split to form the Democratic Nationalists. In November 2008, the BNP membership list
was posted to WikiLeaks, after appearing briefly on a weblog. A year later, in October 2009,
another list of BNP members was leaked.Eddy Butler then led a challenge to Griffin’s leadership,
alleging financial corruption, but he had insufficient support. The rebels who supported
him split into two groups: one section remained as the internal Reform Group, the other left
the BNP to form the British Freedom Party. By 2010, there was discontent among the party’s
grassroots, a result of the change to its white-only membership policy and rumours of
financial corruption among its leadership. Some defected to the National Front or left
to form parties like Britain First, the British Freedom Party, the National People’s Party
and the Britannica Party. Anti-fascist groups like Hope not Hate had campaigned extensively
in Barking to stop the area’s locals voting for the BNP. At the 2010 general election,
the BNP had hoped to make a breakthrough by gaining a seat in the House of Commons, although
it failed to achieve this. It nevertheless gained the fifth largest national vote share,
with 1.9% of the vote, representing the most successful electoral performance for an extreme-right
party in UK history. In the 2010 local elections, it lost all of its councillors in Barking
and Dagenham. Nationally, the party’s number of councillors dropped from over fifty to
28. Griffin described the results as “disastrous”.===Decline: 2014–present===
In a 2011 leadership election, Griffin secured a narrow victory, beating Brons by nine votes
of a total of 2,316 votes cast. In October 2012, Brons left the party, leaving Griffin
as its sole MEP. In the 2012 local elections, the party lost all of its seats and saw its
vote share fall dramatically; whereas it gained over 240,000 votes in 2008, this had fallen
to under 26,000 by 2012. Commenting on the result, the political scientist Matthew Goodwin
noted: “Put simply, the BNP’s electoral challenge is over.” In the 2012 London mayoral election,
the BNP candidate came seventh, with 1.3% of first-preference votes, its poorest showing
in the London mayoral contest. The 2012 election results established that the BNP’s steady
growth had ended. In the 2013 local elections, the BNP fielded 99 candidates but failed to
win any council seats, leaving it with only two.In June 2013, Griffin visited Syria along
with members of Hungarian far-right party Jobbik to meet with government officials,
including the Speaker of the Syrian People’s Assembly, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, and the
Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi. Griffin claims he was influential in the speaker of
Syria’s Parliament writing an open letter to British MPs urging them to “turn Great
Britain from the warpath” by not intervening in the Syrian conflict. Griffin lost his European
Parliament seat in the May 2014 European election. The party blamed the UK Independence Party
for its decline, accusing the latter of stealing BNP policies and slogans. In July 2014, Griffin
resigned and was succeeded by Adam Walker as acting chairman. In October, Griffin was
expelled from the party for “trying to cause disunity [in the party] by deliberately fabricating
a state of crisis”.In January 2015, membership of the party numbered 500, down from 4,220
in December 2013. At the general election in 2015, the BNP fielded eight candidates,
down from 338 in 2010. The party’s vote share declined 99.7% from its 2010 result.
In January 2016, the Electoral Commission de-registered the BNP for failing to pay its
annual registration fee of GB£25. At this time, it was estimated that BNP assets totalled
less than GB£50,000. According to the Commission, “BNP candidates cannot, at present, use the
party’s name, descriptions or emblems on the ballot paper at elections.” A month later,
the party was re-registered. There were ten BNP candidates at the general
election in 2017. At the 2018 local elections, the party’s last remaining councillor—Brian
Parker of Pendle—decided not to stand for re-election, leaving the party without any
representation at any level of UK government.==Ideology=====
Far-right politics, fascism, and neo-Nazism===Many academic historians and political scientists
have described the BNP as a far-right party, or as an extreme-right party. As the political
scientist Matthew Goodwin used it, the term referred to “a particular form of political
ideology that is defined by two anti-constitutional and anti-democratic elements: first, right-wing
extremists are extremist because they reject or undermine the values, procedures and institutions
of the democratic constitutional state; and second they are right-wing because they reject
the principle of fundamental human equality”.Various political scientists and historians have described
the BNP as being fascist in ideology. Others have instead described it as neo-fascist,
a term which the historian Nigel Copsey argued was more exact. Academic observers—including
the historians Copsey, Graham Macklin, and Roger Griffin, and the political theologian
Andrew P. Davey—have argued that Nick Griffin’s reforms were little more than a cosmetic process
to obfuscate the party’s fascist roots. According to Copsey, under Griffin the BNP was “fascism
recalibrated – a form of neo-fascism – to suit contemporary sensibilities”. Macklin
noted that despite Griffin’s ‘modernisation’ project, the BNP retained its ideological
continuity with earlier fascist groups and thus had not transformed itself into a genuinely
“post-fascist” party. In this it was distinct from parties like the Italian National Alliance
of Gianfranco Fini, which has been credited with successfully shedding its fascist past
and becoming post-fascist.The anti-fascist activist Gerry Gable referred to the BNP as
a “Nazi organisation”, while the Anti-Nazi League published leaflets describing the BNP
as the “British Nazi Party”. Copsey suggested that while the BNP under Tyndall could be
described as neo-Nazi, it was not “crudely mimetic” of the original German Nazism. Davey
characterised the BNP as a “populist ethno-nationalist” party. In his writings, Griffin acknowledged that
much of his ‘modernisation’ was an attempt to hide the BNP’s core ideology behind more
electorally palatable policies. Like the National Front, the BNP’s private discourse differed
from its public one, with Griffin stating that “Of course we must teach the truth to
the hardcore… [but] when it comes to influencing the public, forget about racial differences,
genetics, Zionism, historical revisionism and so on… we must at all times present
them with an image of moderate reasonableness”. The BNP has eschewed the labels “fascist”
and “Nazi”, claiming that it is neither. In its 1992 electoral manifesto, it insisted
that “Fascism was Italian. Nazism was German. We are British. We will do things our own
way; we will not copy foreigners”. In 2009, Griffin that the term “fascism” was simply
“a smear that comes from the far left”; he added that the term should be reserved for
groups that engaged in “political violence” and desired a state that “should impose its
will on people”, claiming that it was the anti-fascist group Unite Against Fascism—and
not the BNP—who were the real fascists. More broadly, many on Britain’s extreme-right
sought to avoid the term “British fascism” because of its electorally unpalatable connotations,
utilising “British nationalism” in its place.After Griffin took control of the party, it made
increasing use of nativist themes in order to emphasise its “British” credentials. In
its published material, the party made appeals to the idea of Britain and Britishness in
a manner not dissimilar to mainstream political parties. In this material it has also made
prominent use of the Union flag and the colours red, white, and blue. Roger Griffin noted
that the terms “Britain” and “England” appear “confusingly interchangeable” in BNP literature,
while Copsey has pointed out that the BNP’s form of British nationalism is “Anglo-centric”.
The party employed militaristic rhetoric under both Tyndall and Griffin’s leadership; under
the latter for example its published material spoke of a “war without uniforms” and a “war
for our survival as a people”. Tyndall described the BNP as a revolutionary party, calling
it a “guerrilla army operating in occupied territory”.===Ethnic nationalism and biological racism
===The BNP adheres to biological racist ideas,
displaying an obsession with the perceived differences of racial groups. Both Tyndall
and Griffin believed that there was a biologically distinct white-skinned “British race” which
was one branch of a wider Nordic race, a view akin to those of earlier fascists like Hitler
and Arnold Leese.The BNP adheres to an ideology of ethnic nationalism. It promotes the idea
that not all citizens of the United Kingdom belong to the British nation. Instead, it
claims that the nation only belongs to “the English, Scots, Irish and Welsh along with
the limited numbers of peoples of European descent, who have arrived centuries or decades
ago and who have fully integrated into our society”. This is a group that Griffin referred
to as the “home people” or “the folk”. According to Tyndall, “The BNP is a racial nationalist
party which believes in Britain for the British, that is to say racial separatism.” Richard
Edmonds in 1993 told The Guardian’s Duncan Campbell that “we [the BNP] are 100% racist”.
The BNP does not regard UK citizens who are not ethnic white Europeans as “British”, and
party literature calls on supporters to avoid referring to such individuals as “Black Britons”
or “Asian Britons”, instead describing them as “racial foreigners”. Tyndall believed the white British and the
broader Nordic race to be superior to other races, and under his leadership, the BNP promoted
pseudoscientific claims in support of white supremacy. Following Griffin’s ascendency
to power in the party, it officially repudiated racial supremacism and insisted that no racial
group was superior or inferior to another. Instead it foregrounded an “ethno-pluralist”
racial separatism, claiming that different racial groups had to be kept separate and
distinct for their own preservation, maintaining that global ethno-cultural diversity was something
to be protected. This switch in focus owed much to the discourse of the French Nouvelle
Droite movement which had emerged within France’s extreme-right during the 1960s.
At the same time the BNP switched focus from openly promoting biological racism to stressing
what it perceived as the cultural incompatibility of racial groups. It placed great focus on
opposing what it referred to as “multiculturalism”, characterising this as a form of “cultural
genocide”, and claiming that it promoted the interests of non-whites at the expense of
the white British population. However, internal documents produced and circulated under Griffin’s
leadership demonstrated that—despite the shift in its public statements—it remained
privately committed to biological racist ideas.The party emphasises what it sees as the need
to protect the racial purity of the white British. It condemns miscegenation and “race
mixing”, claiming that this is a threat to the British race. Tyndall stated that he “felt
deeply sorry for the child of a mixed marriage” but had “no sympathy whatsoever for the parents”.
Griffin similarly stated that mixed-race children were “the most tragic victims of enforced
multi-racism”, and that the party would not “accept miscegenation as moral or normal … we
never will”. In its 1983 election manifesto, the BNP stated that “family size is a private
matter” but still called for white Britons who are “of intelligent, healthy and industrious
stock” to have large families and thus raise the white British birth-rate. The encouragement
of high birth rates among white British families continued under Griffin’s leadership.Under
Tyndall’s leadership, the BNP promoted eugenics, calling for the forced sterilisation of those
with genetically transmittable disabilities. In party literature, it talked of improving
the British ‘racial stock’ by removing “inferior strains within the indigenous races of the
British Isles”. Tyndall argued that medical professionals should be responsible for determining
who to sterilise, while a lowering of welfare benefits would discourage breeding among those
he deemed to be genetic inferiors. In his magazine Spearhead, Tyndall also stated that
“the gas chamber system” should be used to eliminate “sub-human elements”, “perverts”,
and “asocials” from British society.===Anti-immigrationism and repatriation===Opposition to immigration has been central
to the BNP’s political platform. It has engaged in xenophobic campaigns which emphasise the
idea that immigrants and ethnic minorities are both different from, and a threat to,
the white British and white Irish populations. In its campaign material it presented non-whites
both as a source of crime in the UK, and as a socio-economic threat to the white British
population by taking jobs, housing, and welfare away from them. It engaged in welfare chauvinism,
calling for white Britons to be prioritised by the UK’s welfare state. Party literature
included such as claims as that the BNP was the only party which could “do anything effective
about the swamping of Britain by the Third World” or “lead the native peoples of Britain
in our version of the New Crusade that must be organised if Europe is not to sink under
the Islamic yoke”.Much of its published material made claims about a forthcoming race war and
promoted the conspiracy theory about white genocide. In a 2009 radio interview, Griffin
referred to this as a “bloodless genocide”. It presents the idea that white Britons are
engaged in a battle against their own extinction as a racial group. It reiterated a sense of
urgency about the situation, claiming that both high immigration rates and high birth
rates among ethnic minorities were a threat to the white British. In 2010, it for instance
was promoting the idea that at current levels, “indigenous Britons” would be a minority within
the UK by 2060. The BNP calls for the non-white population
of Britain to either be reduced in size or removed from the country altogether. Under
Tyndall’s leadership it promoted the compulsory removal of non-whites from the UK, stating
that under a BNP government they would be “repatriated” to their countries of origin.
In the early 1990s it produced stickers with the slogan “Our Final Solution: Repatriation”.
Tyndall understood this to be a two-stage process that would take ten to twenty years,
with some non-whites initially leaving willingly and the others then being forcibly deported.
During the 1990s, party modernisers suggested that the BNP move away from a policy of compulsory
repatriation and toward a voluntary system, whereby non-white persons would be offered
financial incentives to leave the UK. This idea, adopted from Powellism, was deemed more
electorally palatable.When Griffin took control of the party, the policy of voluntary repatriation
was officially adopted, with the party suggesting that this could be financed through the use
of the UK’s pre-existing foreign aid budget. It stated that any non-whites who refused
to leave would be stripped of their British citizenship and categorised as “permanent
guests”, while continuing to be offered incentives to emigrate. Griffin’s BNP also stressed its
support for an immediate halt to non-white immigration into Britain and for the deportation
of any migrants illegally in the country. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in
2009, Griffin declared that, unlike Tyndall, he “does not want all-white UK” because “nobody
out there wants it or would pay for it”.===Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia===Under Tyndall’s leadership, the BNP was openly
anti-Semitic. From A. K. Chesterton, Tyndall had inherited a belief that there was a global
conspiracy of Jews bent on world domination, viewing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
as genuine evidence for this. He believed that Jews were responsible for both communism
and international finance capitalism and that they were responsible for undermining the
British Empire and the British race. He believed that both democratic government and immigration
into Europe were parts of the Jewish conspiracy to weaken other races. In an early edition
of Spearhead published in the 1960s, Tyndall wrote that “if Britain were to become Jew-clean
she would have no nigger neighbours to worry about… It is the Jews who are our misfortune:
T-h-e J-e-w-s. Do you hear me? THE JEWS?” Tyndall added Holocaust denial to the anti-Semitic
beliefs inherited from Chesterton, believing that the Holocaust was a hoax created by the
Jews to gain sympathy for themselves and thus aid their plot for world domination. Among
those to endorse such anti-Semitic conspiracy theories was Griffin, who promoted them in
his 1997 pamphlet, Who are the Mind Benders? Griffin also engaged in Holocaust denial,
publishing articles promoting such ideas in The Rune, a magazine produced by the Croydon
BNP. In 1998, these articles resulted in Griffin being convicted of inciting racial hatred.When
Griffin took power, he sought to banish overt anti-Semitic discourse from the party. He
informed party members that “we can get away with criticising Zionists, but any criticism
of Jews is likely to be legal and political suicide”. In 2006, he complained that the
“obsession” that many BNP members had with “the Jews” was “insane and politically disastrous”.
In 2004, the party selected a Jewish candidate, Pat Richardson, to stand for it during local
council elections, something Tyndall lambasted as a “gimmick”. References to Jews in BNP
literature were often coded to hide the party’s electorally unpalatable anti-Semitic ideas.
For instance, the term “Zionists” was often used in party literature as a euphemism for
“Jews”. As noted by Macklin, Griffin still framed many of his arguments “within the parameters
of recognizably anti-Semitic discourse”. The BNP’s literature is replete with references
to a conspiratorial group who have sought to suppress nationalist sentiment among the
British population, who have encouraged immigration and mixed race relationships, and who are
promoting the Islamification of the country. This group is likely a reference to the Jews,
an old fascist canard.Under Griffin, the BNP’s website linked to other web pages that explicitly
portrayed immigration as part of a Jewish conspiracy, while it also sold books that
promoted Holocaust denial. In 2004, secretly filmed footage was captured in which Griffin
was seen claiming that “the Jews simply bought the West, in terms of press and so on, for
their own political ends”. Sectors of the extreme-right were highly critical of Griffin’s
softening on the subject of the Jews, claiming that he had “sold out” to the ‘Zionist Occupied
Government’. In 2006, John Blean, editor of Identity, included an article in which he
reassured BNP members that the party had not “sold out to the Jews” or “embraced Zionism”
but that it remained “committed to fighting… subversive Jews”. Copsey noted that despite Griffin’s reforms,
a “culture of anti-Semitism” still pervaded the BNP. In 2004, a London activist told reporters
that “most of us hate Jews”, while a Scottish BNP group was observed making Nazi salutes
while shouting “Auschwitz”. The party’s Newcastle upon Tyne Central candidate compared the Auschwitz
concentration camp to Disneyland, while their Luton North candidate stated her refusal to
buy from “the kikes that run Tesco”. In 2009, a BNP councillor from Stoke-on-Trent resigned
from the party, complaining that it still contained Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathisers.Griffin
informed BNP members that rather than “bang on” about the Jews—which would be deemed
extremist and prove electorally unpopular—their party should focus on criticising Islam, an
issue that would be more resonant among the British public. After Griffin took over, the
party increasingly embraced an Islamophobic stance, launching a “Campaign Against Islam”
in September 2001. In Islam: A Threat to Us All, a leaflet distributed to London households
in 2007, the BNP claimed that it would stand up to both Islamic extremism and “the threat
that ‘mainstream’ Islam poses to our British culture”. In contrast to the mainstream British
view that the actions of militant Islamists—such as those who perpetrated the 7 July 2005 London
bombings—are not representative of mainstream Islam, the BNP insists that they are. In some
of its literature it presents the view that every Muslim in Britain is a threat to the
country. Griffin referred to Islam as an “evil, wicked faith”, and elsewhere publicly described
it as a “cancer” that needed to be removed from Europe through “chemotherapy”.The BNP
has called for the prohibition of immigration from Muslim countries and for the banning
of the burka, halal meat, and the building of new mosques in the UK. It also called for
the immediate deportation of radical Islamist preachers from the country. In 2005 the party
claimed that its primary issue of concern was the “growth of fundamentalist-militant
Islam in the UK and its ever-increasing threat to Western civilization and our implicit values”.
To broaden its anti-Islamic agenda, Griffin’s BNP made overtures to the UK’s Hindu, Sikh,
and Jewish communities; Griffin’s claim that Jews can make “good allies” in the fight against
Islam caused controversy within the international far-right.===Government===
Tyndall believed that liberal democracy was damaging to British society, claiming that
liberalism was a “doctrine of decay and degeneration”. Under Tyndall, the party sought to dismantle
the UK’s liberal democratic system of parliamentary governance, although was vague about what
it sought to replace this system with. In his 1988 work The Eleventh Hour, Tyndall wrote
of the need for “an utter rejection of liberalism and a dedication to the resurgence of authority”.
Tyndall’s BNP perceived itself as a revolutionary force that would bring about a national rebirth
in Britain, entailing a radical transformation of society. It proposed a state in which the
Prime Minister would have full executive powers, and would be elected directly by the population
for an indefinite period of time. This Prime Minister could be dismissed from office in
a further election that could be called if Parliament produced a vote of no confidence
in them. It stated that rather than having political parties, candidates standing for
election to the parliament would be independent. During the period of Griffin’s leadership,
the party downplayed its anti-democratic themes and instead foregrounded populist ones. Its
campaign material called for the devolution of greater powers to local communities, the
reestablishment of county councils, and the introduction of citizens’ initiative referendums
based on those used in Switzerland. The BNP has adopted a hard Eurosceptic platform
from its foundation. Under Tyndall’s leadership, the BNP had overt
anti-Europeanist tendencies. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he maintained the party’s
opposition to the European Economic Community. Antagonism toward what became the European
Union was retained under Griffin’s leadership, which called for the UK to leave the Union.
One of Vote Leave’s biggest donors during the Brexit referendum was former BNP member
Gladys Bramall and the party has claimed that its anti-Establishment rhetoric “created the
road” to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.Tyndall suggested replacing the EEC
with a trading association among the “White Commonwealth”, namely countries like Canada,
Australia, and New Zealand. Tyndall held imperialist views and was sympathetic to the re-establishment
of the British Empire through the recolonization of parts of Africa. However, officially the
BNP had no plans to re-establish the British Empire or secure dominion over non-white nations.
In the 2000s, it called for an immediate military withdrawal from both the Iraq War and the
Afghan War. It has advocated ending overseas aid to provide economic support within the
UK and to finance the voluntary repatriation of legal immigrants.Under Tyndall, the BNP
rejected both Welsh nationalism and Scottish nationalism, claiming that they were bogus
because they caused division among the wider ‘British race’. Tyndall also led the BNP in
support of Ulster loyalism, for instance by holding public demonstrations against the
Irish republican party Sinn Féin, and endorsing Ulster loyalist paramilitaries. Under Griffin,
the BNP continued to support Ulster’s membership of the United Kingdom, calling for the crushing
of the Irish Republican Army and the scrapping of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Griffin later
expressed the view that “the only solution that could possibly be acceptable to loyalists
and republicans alike” would be the reintegration of the Irish Republic into the United Kingdom,
which would be reorganised along federal lines. However, while retaining the party’s commitment
to Ulster loyalism, under Griffin the importance of the issue was downplayed, something that
was criticised by Tyndall loyalists.===Economic policy===
Tyndall described his approach to the economy as “National Economics”, expressing the view
that “politics must lead, and not be led by, economic forces”. His approach rejected economic
liberalism because it did not serve “the national interest”, although still saw advantages in
a capitalist system, looking favourably on individual enterprise. He called on capitalist
elements to be combined with socialist ones, with the government playing a role in planning
the economy. He promoted the idea of the UK becoming an autarky which was economically
self-sufficient, with domestic production protected from foreign competition. This attitude
was heavily informed by the corporatist system that had been introduced in Benito Mussolini’s
Fascist Italy.A number of senior members, including Griffin and John Bean, had anti-capitalist
leanings, having been influenced by Strasserism and National Bolshevism. Under Griffin’s leadership,
the BNP promoted economic protectionism and opposed globalisation. Its economic policies
reflect a vague commitment to distributist economics, ethno-socialism, and national autarky.
The BNP maintains a policy of protectionism and economic nationalism, although in comparison
with other far-right nationalist parties, the BNP focuses less on corporatism. It has
called for British ownership of its own industries and resources and the “subordination of the
power of the City to the power of the government”. It has promoted the regeneration of farming
in the United Kingdom, with the object of achieving maximum self-sufficiency in food
production. In 2002, the party criticised corporatism as a “mixture of big capitalism
and state control”, saying it favoured a “distributionist tradition established by home-grown thinkers”
favouring small business.When it comes to environmentalism, the BNP refers to itself
as the “real green party”, claiming that the Green Party of England and Wales engages in
“watermelon” politics by being green (environmentalist) on the outside but red (leftist) on the inside.
Influenced by the Nouvelle Droite, it framed its arguments regarding environmentalism in
an anti-immigration manner, talking about the need for ‘sustainability’. It engages
in climate change denial, with Griffin claiming that global warming is a hoax orchestrated
by those trying to establish the New World Order.===Social issues===The BNP is opposed to feminism and has pledged
that—if in government—it would introduce financial incentives to encourage women to
leave employment and become housewives. It would also seek to discourage children being
born out of wedlock. It has stated that it would criminalise abortion, except in cases
where the child has been conceived as a result of rape, the mother’s life is threatened,
or the child will be disabled. There are nevertheless circumstances where it has altered this anti-abortion
stance; an article in British Nationalist stated that a white woman bearing the child
of a black man should “abort the pregnancy… for the good of society”. More widely, the
party censures inter-racial sex and accuses the British media of encouraging inter-racial
relationships.Under Tyndall, the BNP called for the re-criminalisation of homosexual activity.
Following Griffin’s takeover, it moderated its policy on homosexuality, although opposed
the 2004 introduction of civil partnerships for same-sex couples. During his 2009 Question
Time appearance, Griffin described the sight of two men kissing as “really creepy”. The
party has also condemned the availability of pornography; its 1992 manifesto stated
that the BNP would give the “pedlars of this filth… the criminal status that they deserve”.
The BNP promoted the reintroduction of capital punishment, and the sterilisation of some
criminals. It also called for the reintroduction of national service in the UK, adding that
on completion of this service adults would be permitted to keep their standard issue
assault rifle.According to the academic Steven Woodbridge, the BNP had a “rather ambivalent
attitude toward Christian belief and religious themes in general” during most of its history,
but under Griffin’s modernisation the party increasingly utilised Christian terminology
and themes in its discourse. Various members of the party presented themselves as “true
Christians”, and defenders of the faith, with key ideologues claiming that the religion
has been “betrayed” and “sold out” by mainstream clergy and the British establishment. British
Christianity, the BNP claimed, was under threat from Islam, Marxism, multiculturalism, and
“political correctness”. On analysing the BNP’s use of Christianity, Davey argued that
the party’s emphasis was not on Christian faith itself, but on the inheritance of European
Christian culture.The BNP long considered the mainstream media to be one of its major
impediments to electoral success. Tyndall claimed that the media represents a “state
above the state” which was committed to the “left-liberal” goals of internationalism,
liberal democracy, and racial integration. The party has claimed that the mainstream
media has given disproportionate coverage to the achievements of ethnic minority sportsmen
and to the victims of anti-black racism while ignoring white victims of racial prejudice
and the BNP’s activities. Both Tyndall and Griffin have claimed that the mainstream media
is controlled by Jews, who use it for their own devices; the latter promoted this idea
in his Who are the Mind Benders? Griffin has described the BBC as “a thoroughly unpleasant,
ultra-leftist establishment”. The BNP has stated that if it took power, it would end
“the dictatorship of the media over free debate”. It claims that it would introduce a law prohibiting
the media from disseminating falsehoods about an individual or organisation for financial
or political gain, and that it would ban the media from promoting racial integration.
BNP policy pledges to protect freedom of speech, as part of which it would repeal all laws
banning racial or religious hate speech. It would repeal the 1998 Human Rights Act and
withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.==Support=====
Finances===In contrast to the UK’s mainstream parties,
the BNP received few donations from businesses, wealthy donors, or trade unions. Instead it
relied on finances produced by its membership. Under Tyndall, the party operated on a shoestring
budget with a lack of transparency; in 1992 it collected £5000 and in 1997 it collected
£10,000. It also tried raising money by selling extreme-right literature, and opened a bookshop
in Welling in 1989, although this was closed in 1996 after being attacked by anti-fascists
and proving too costly to run. In 1992 the party formed a dining club of its wealthier
supporters, which was renamed the Trafalgar Club in 2000. By the 1997 general election
it admitted that its expenses had “far out-stripped” its income, and it was appealing for donations
to pay off loans it had taken out.Griffin placed greater emphasis on fundraising, and
from 2001 through to 2008 the BNP’s annual turnover increased almost fivefold. Membership
subscriptions grew from £35,000 to £166,000, while its donations raised from £38,000 to
£660,000. However, expenses also rose as the BNP spent more on its electoral campaigns,
and the party reported a financial deficit in 2004 and again in 2005. Between 2007 and
2009 the BNP accumulated debts of £500,000.===Membership===For most of its history, the BNP had a whites-only
membership policy. In 2009, the state’s Equality and Human Rights Commission stated that this
was a violation of the Race Relations Act 1976 and called on the party to amend its
constitution accordingly. Responding to this, in early 2010 members voted to remove the
racial restriction to membership, although it is unlikely that many non-whites joined.
At its creation, the BNP had approximately 1,200 members. By the 1983 general election
this had grown to approximately 2,500, although by 1987 had slumped to 1000, with no significant
further growth until the 21st century. After taking control Griffin began publishing the
party’s membership figures: 2,174 in 2001, 3,487 in 2002, 5,737 in 2003, and 7,916 in
2004. Membership dropped slightly to 6,281 in 2005, but had grown to 9,297 in 2007 and
to 10,276 in spring 2010. In 2011, it was noted that this meant that the BNP had experienced
the most rapid growth since 2001 of any minor party in the UK.A party membership list dating
from late 2007 was leaked onto the internet by a disgruntled activist, containing the
names and addresses of 12,000 members. This included names, addresses and other personal
details. People on the list included prison officers (barred from BNP membership), teachers,
soldiers, civil servants and members of the clergy. The leaked list indicated that membership
was concentrated in particular areas, namely the East Midlands, Essex, and Pennine Lancashire,
but with particular clusters in Charnwood, Pendle, and Amber Valley. Many of these areas
had long been targeted by extreme-right campaigns, dating back to the NF activity of the 1970s,
suggesting that such longstanding activism may have had an effect on levels of BNP membership.
This information also revealed that membership was most likely in urban areas with low rates
of educational attainment and large numbers of economically insecure people employed in
manufacturing, with further correlations to nearby Muslim communities. Following an investigation
by Welsh police and the Information Commissioner’s Office, two people were arrested in December
2008 for breach of the Data Protection Act concerning the leak. Matthew Single was subsequently
found guilty and fined £200. The fine was criticised as an “absolute disgrace” by a
BNP spokesman and a detective sergeant involved said he was “disappointed” with the outcome.The
leaked membership list showed that the party was 17.22% female. While women have occupied
key positions within the BNP, men dominated at every level of the party. In 2009, over
80% of the party’s Advisory Council was male and from 2002 to 2009, three-quarters of its
councillors were male. The average percentage of female candidates presented at local elections
in 2001 was 6%, although this had risen to 16% by 2010. Since 2006, the party had made
a point of selecting female candidates, with Griffin stating that this was necessary to
“soften” the party’s image. Goodwin suggested that membership fell into three camps: the
“activist old guard” who had previously been involved in the NF during the 1970s, the “political
wanderers” who had defected from other parties to the BNP, and the “new recruits” who had
joined post-2001 and who had little or no political interest or experience beforehand.Having
performed qualitative research among the BNP by interviewing various members, Goodwin noted
that few of those he interviewed “conformed to the popular stereotypes of them being irrational
and uninformed crude racists”. He noted that most strongly identified with the working
class and claimed to have either been former Labour voters or from a Labour-voting family.
None of those interviewed claimed a family background in the ethnic nationalist movement.
Instead, he noted that members claimed that they joined the party as a result of a “profound
sense of anxiety over immigration and rising ethno-cultural diversity” in Britain, along
with its concomitant impact on “British culture and society”. He noted that among these members,
the perceived cultural threat of immigrants and ethnic minorities was given greater prominence
than the perceived economic threat that they posed to white Britons. He noted that in his
interviews with them, members often framed Islam in particular as a threat to British
values and society, expressing the fear that British Muslims wanted to Islamicise the country
and eventually impose sharia law on its population.===Voter base===Goodwin described the BNP’s voters as being
“socially distinct and concerned about a specific set of issues”. Under Griffin’s leadership,
the party targeted areas with high proportions of skilled white working-class voters, particularly
those who were disenchanted with the Labour government. It has attempted to appeal to
disaffected Labour voters with slogans such as “We are the Labour Party your Grandfather
Voted For”. The BNP had little success in gaining support from women, the middle classes,
and the more educated.Goodwin noted a “strong male bias” in the party’s support base, with
statistical polling revealing that between 2002 and 2006, seven out of ten BNP voters
were male. That same research also indicated that BNP voters were disproportionately middle-aged
and elderly, with three quarters being aged over 35, and only 11% aged between 18 and
24. This contrasted to the NF’s support base during the 1970s, when 40% of its voters were
aged between 18 and 24. Goodwin suggested two possibilities for the BNP’s failure to
appeal to younger voters: one was the ‘life cycle effect’, that older people have obtained
more during in their life and thus have more to lose, feeling both more threatened by change
and more socially conservative in their views. The other explanation was the ‘generational
effect’, with younger Britons who have grown up since the onset of mass immigration having
had greater social exposure to ethnic minorities and thus being more tolerant toward them.
Conversely, many older voters came of age during the 1970s, under the impact of the
anti-immigrant rhetoric promoted by Powellism, Thatcherism, and the NF, and thus have less
tolerant attitudes.Most BNP voters had no formal qualifications and the party’s support
was centred largely in areas with low educational attainment. According to the 2002–06 data,
two-thirds of BNP voters had either no formal qualifications or had left education after
their O-levels/GCSEs. Only one in ten BNP voters possessed an A-level, and an even smaller
percentage had a university degree. Most of the BNP’s voting base were from the financially
insecure lower classes. Research conducted from 2002 to 2006 indicated that seven out
of ten BNP voters were either skilled or unskilled workers or unemployed. A 2009 poll found that
six out of ten BNP voters fitted this profile. Goodwin suggested that it was the skilled
working classes rather than their unskilled or unemployed neighbours who were the main
support base behind the BNP, because they owned some assets and thus felt that they
had more to lose as a result of the economic threat posed by immigrants and ethnic minorities.Research
indicated that BNP voters also held opinions that were distinct from the average British
citizen. They were far more pessimistic about their economic prospects than average, with
seven out of ten BNP voters expecting their economic prospects to decline in future, contrasted
with four out of ten who held this view in the wider population. In the 2002–06 period,
59% of BNP voters considered immigration to be the most important issue facing the UK,
compared with only 16% of the wider population who agreed. By 2009, 87% of BNP voters identified
immigration and asylum as the most important issue, to 49% of the wider population. BNP
voters were also more likely to identify law and order, the EU, and Islamic extremism as
the most important issues facing the UK than other voters, and less likely than average
to rate the economy, NHS, pensions, and housing market as the most important. BNP voters were also more likely than average
to believe both that white Britons face unfair discrimination, and that Muslims, non-whites,
and homosexuals had unfair advantages in British society. 78% of BNP voters endorsed the belief
that the Labour Party prioritised immigrants and ethnic minorities over white British people,
to 44% of the wider population. When asked questions about immigration and Muslims, BNP
voters were found to be far more hostile to them than the average Briton, and also more
willing than average to support outright racially discriminatory policies toward them. Copsey
believed that “popular racism”—namely against asylum seekers and Muslims—generated the
BNP’s “largest reservoir of support”, and that in many Northern English towns the main
factors behind BNP support were white resentment toward Asian communities, anger at Asian-on-white
crime, and the perception that Asians received disproportionately high levels of public funding.Research
also indicated that BNP voters were more mistrustful of the establishment than average citizens.
In 2002–06, 92% of BNP voters described themselves as being dissatisfied with the
government, to 62% of the wider population. Over 80% of BNP voters were found to distrust
their local Member of Parliament, council officials, and civil servants, and were also
more likely than average to think that politicians were personally corrupt. There was also a
tendency for BNP voters to read tabloids like the Daily Mail, Daily Express, and The Sun,
all of which promote anti-immigration sentiment. Whether these voters gained such sentiment
as a result of reading these tabloids or they read these tabloids because it endorsed their
pre-existing views is unclear.The early stronghold of the BNP was in London, where it established
enclaves of support in the boroughs of Enfield, Hackney, Lewisham, Southwark, and Tower Hamlets,
with smaller units in Bexley, Camden, Greenwich, Hillingdon, Lambeth, and Redbridge. By the
late 1990s, the party was increasingly retreating from its original East End heartland, finding
that its electoral support had declined in the area. Griffin expressed the view that
it was too dangerous for BNP activists to campaign in the East End, suggesting that
they would likely be attacked by opponents. Instead the party shifted its focus to parts
of Outer London, in particular the boroughs of Barking, Bexley, Dagenham, Greenwich, and
Havering. After Griffin took power, the party focused on building support in the North of
England, taking advantage of the anxieties generated by the ethnic riots that took place
in Bradford, Oldham, and Burnley in 2001. In the period between 2002 and 2006, over
40% of the BNP’s voters were in Northern England.The decline of the BNP as an electoral force around
2014 helped to open the way for the growth of another right-wing party, UKIP. In a study
Goodwin produced with Robert Ford, the two political scientists noted that UKIP’s support
base mirrored the BNP’s in that it had the same “very clear social profile”: the “old,
male, working class, white and less educated”. One area where the two differed, they noted,
was in the fact that BNP support had been highest among the middle-aged before tailing
off among the over 55s, whereas UKIP retained strong support with those over 55. Ford and
Goodwin suggested that this might be because more over 55s had “direct or indirect experiences”
of the Second World War, in which Britain defeated the fascist powers, resulting in
them being less inclined to support fascist parties than their younger counterparts. Despite
these commonalities, UKIP proved far more successful at mobilising these social groups
than did the BNP. This was likely in part because UKIP had a “reputational shield”;
it emerged from within the Eurosceptic tradition of British politics rather than from the far-right
and thus, while often ridiculed by the mainstream, was regarded as a legitimate democratic actor
in a way that the BNP was not.==Organisation and structure==
On its formation, the BNP avoided the National Front’s committee-rule system of collective
leadership in the hope of evading the infighting and factionalism that had damaged the NF.
Instead it was founded around what it called the “leadership principle”, with a central
chairman having complete control over the party, which was then arranged in a highly
hierarchical structure. The BNP lacked any internal democracy, with the grassroots membership
having no formal powers. On taking power, Griffin retained the leadership principle
inherited from Tyndall. He nevertheless established an Advisory Council which would meet several
times a year; the members were to be selected by Griffin himself and would serve as his
advisors.The party’s branches and local groups were referred to as “units” within the party.
These were designed to recruit followers, raise funds, and campaign during elections.
Under Tyndall, the party operated with a skeleton organisation. It had no full-time staff and
for most of the 1980s lacked a telephone number. Instead it relied on a handful of geographically
scattered, unpaid regional organisers. Its early activists were recruited from within
the extreme-right movement, and thus lacked the experience and skills in electoral campaigning.
When Griffin took control, he introduced a variety of internal departments to help manage
the party’s activities: the administration and enquiries department, department for group
development, legal affairs department, security department, and communications department.
Griffin tried to build a more professional party machine by educating and training BNP
members, providing them with incentives, establishing a steady income stream, and overcoming factionalism
and dissent. He launched an “annual college” for activists in 2001 and formed an education
and training department in 2007. In 2008 and 2010 he oversaw the establishment of “summer
schools” for high-ranking officials. The party also began employing full-time members of
staff, having three in 2001 and 13 in 2007.To incentivise members to remain committed to
the party, Griffin followed the example of the Swedish National Democrats by implementing
a new “voting membership” scheme in 2007. This meant that those who had been BNP members
for two years could become a “voting member”, at which they would go on a year’s probation.
During this year they were required to attend educational and training seminars, to engage
in a certain amount of activism, and to donate a specified amount of money to the party.
Once completed, they were allowed to vote on certain matters at general members’ meetings
and annual conferences, to participate in policy debates, and to be eligible for intermediate
and senior positions. This policy ensured that those who reached the higher echelons
of the BNP were fully trained in the party’s ideology and electoral strategy.===Sub-groups and propaganda output===Griffin hoped to build a wider social movement
around the BNP by establishing affiliated networks and organisations. In many cases,
these were presented to the public in a way that concealed any direct connection to the
BNP. Most of these affiliated groups were poorly funded and had few members. The party
established its own record label, Great White Records, a radio station, and a trade union
known as Solidarity – The Union for British Workers. It formed a group for young people
known as the Young BNP, although in 2010 renamed this group as the BNP Crusaders, “to pay homage
to our ancestors from the Middle Ages who saved Christian Europe from the onslaught
of Islam”. It established a Land and People group to recruit support in rural areas, a
Family Circle to recruit women and families, and both a Veterans Group and an Association
of British ex-Servicemen for former military servicemen. A group called Families Against
Immigrant Racism was established to counter perceived racism against white Britons, while
an Ethnic Liaison Committee was created to build links with anti-Muslim Hindu and Sikh
groups active in Britain. Another group was the American Friends of the British National
Party (AFBNP), set up by Mark Cotterill in 1999 to gain support from sympathisers in
the United States. In 2001 it had 100 members, and by 2008 had 107.A group called Islands
of the North Atlantic (IONA) was established to promote the BNP’s view of British culture
and identity. The British Students Association was founded to promote the party’s views among
university students in 2000. Albion Life Insurance was set up in September
2006 as an insurance brokerage company established on behalf of the BNP to raise funds for its
activities. The firm ceased to operate in November 2006. In 2006, the BNP launched the
Christian Council of Britain (CCB), a group designed to rival the Muslim Council of Britain
and oppose the growing “Islamification” of inner city areas. The CCB was established
and run by BNP member Robert West, who claimed to have been ordained by the Apostolic Church,
a claim that the church denies. West is a Calvinist and espouses a theology of nations
which is influenced by Calvinist theologians like Abraham Kuyper, holding that God wishes
every race and nation to remain separate until end time.Griffin’s BNP also established an
annual Red, White and Blue festival, which was based on the ‘Blue Blanc Rouge’ organised
by France’s National Front. The festival brought party activists together and aimed to promote
a more family friendly image for the group, although it also provided a venue for white
power skinhead bands like Stigger, Nemesis and Warlord. Around 1,000 BNP members attended
the party’s 2001 festival.Under Griffin’s leadership, the BNP zealously embraced the
use of alternative media to promote itself in a way different from the negative portrayal
that featured in the mainstream media. On its website—which had been established in
1995—it created an internet television channel, ‘BNPtv’. It has created blogs that cover different
themes without being explicitly political in order to promote the party’s message. The
BNP established an online marketing platform, Excalibur, through which to sell its merchandise.
In 2003, the BNP claimed that it had the most viewed website of a political party in Britain,
and by 2011 was claiming to have the most viewed such website in Europe. In September
2007, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Hitwise, the online competitive intelligence
service, said that the BNP website had more hits than any other website of a British political
party.===Affiliations in the wider extreme-right
===Under Griffin, the BNP forged stronger links
with various extreme-right parties elsewhere in Europe, among them France’s National Front,
Germany’s National Democratic Party (NPD), Sweden’s National Democrats, and Hungary’s
Jobbik. Griffin unsuccessfully urged the NPD to move away from neo-Nazism and embark on
the same ‘modernisation’ project that he had taken the BNP. Jean-Marie Le Pen of the French
Front National was the guest of honour at an “Anglo-French Patriotic Dinner” held by
the BNP in April 2004. Griffin met leaders of the Hungarian far right
party Jobbik to discuss co-operation between the two parties and spoke at a Jobbik party
rally in August 2008. In April 2009, Simon Darby, deputy chairman of the BNP, was welcomed
with fascist salutes by members of the Italian nationalist Forza Nuova during a trip to Milan.
Darby stated that the BNP would look to form an alliance with France’s Front National in
the European Parliament. Following the election of two BNP MEPs in 2009, the following year
saw the BNP join with other extreme-right parties to form the Alliance of European National
Movements, with Griffin becoming its vice president. The party also had close links
with the Historical Review Press, a publisher focused on promoting Holocaust denial. Britain’s extreme-right has long faced internal
and public divisions. Disgruntled BNP members left the party to found or join a wide range
of rivals, among them the British Freedom Party, White Nationalist Party, Nationalist
Alliance, Wolf’s Hook White Brotherhood, British People’s Party, England First Party, Britain
First, Democratic Nationalists, and the New Nationalist Party. Various BNP members were
involved in the nascent English Defence League (EDL)—with EDL leader Tommy Robinson having
been a former BNP activist—although Griffin proscribed the organisation and condemned
it as having been manipulated by “Zionists”. The political scientist Chris Allen noted
that the EDL shared much of the BNP’s ideology, but that its “strategies and actions” were
very different, with the EDL favouring street marches over electoral politics. By 2014,
both the BNP and EDL were in decline, and Britain First—founded by former BNP members
James Dowson and Paul Golding—had risen to prominence. It combined the electoral tactics
of the BNP with the street marches of the EDL.The Steadfast Trust was established as
a charity in 2004 with the stated aims of reducing poverty among those of Anglo-Saxon
descent and supporting English culture. It has many former and current BNP, NF and British
Ku Klux Klan members. It was deregistered as a charity by the Charity Commission in
February 2014. In 2014, after Nick Griffin lost the leadership of BNP, he set up British
Voice, but before it was launched, he decided to set up a different group, British Unity.Some
members of the BNP were radicalised during their involvement with the party and subsequently
sought to carry out acts of violence and terrorism. Tony Lecomber was imprisoned for three years
for possessing explosives, after a nail bomb exploded while he was transporting it to the
offices of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party in 1985. He was imprisoned for three years
in 1991 whilst serving as the BNP’s Director of Propaganda for assaulting a Jewish teacher.
In 1999, the ex-BNP member David Copeland used nail bombs to target homosexuals and
ethnic minorities in London. In 2005, the BNP’s Burnley candidate Robert Cottage was
convicted of stockpiling chemicals for use in what he believed was a coming civil war,
while a Yorkshire BNP member, Terry Gavan, was convicted in 2010 for stockpiling firearms
and nail bombs.===Party leaders===
Shown by default in chronological order of leadership==
Electoral performance==The BNP has contested seats in England, Wales,
Scotland and Northern Ireland. Research from Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin shows that
BNP support is concentrated among older and less educated working-class men living in
the declining industrial towns of the North and Midlands regions, in contrast to previous
significant far-right parties like the National Front, which drew support from a younger demographic.===General elections===The BNP placed comparatively little emphasis
on elections to the British House of Commons, aware that the first past the post voting
system was a major obstacle.The British National Party has contested general elections since
1983. The BNP in the 2001 general election saved
five deposits (out of 33 contested seats) and secured its best general election result
in Oldham West and Royton (which had recently been the scene of racially motivated rioting
between white and Asian youths) where party leader Nick Griffin secured 16% of the vote.The
2005 general election was considered a major breakthrough by the BNP, as they picked up
192,746 votes in the 119 constituencies it contested, took a 0.7% share of the overall
vote, and retained a deposit in 40 of the seats.The BNP put forward candidates for 338
out of 650 seats for the 2010 general election gaining 563,743 votes (1.9%), finishing in
fifth place and failing to win any seats. However, a record of 73 deposits were saved.
Party chairman Griffin came third in the Barking constituency, behind Margaret Hodge of Labour
and Simon Marcus of the Conservatives, who were first and second respectively. At 14.6%,
this was the BNP’s best result in any of the seats it contested that year.===Local elections===The BNP’s first electoral success came in
1993, when Derek Beackon was returned as a councillor in Millwall, London. He lost his
seat in elections the following year. The next BNP success in local elections was not
until the 2002 local elections, when three BNP candidates gained seats on Burnley council.
The BNP’s first councillor for six years was John Haycock, elected as a parish councillor
for Bromyard and Winslow in Herefordshire in 2000. Haycock failed to attend any council
meetings for six months and was later disqualified from office.The party had 55 councillors for
a time in 2009. After the 2013 local county council elections, the BNP was left with a
total of two borough councillors in England:As of 2011, the BNP had yet to make “a major
breakthrough” on local councils. The BNP’s councillors usually had “an extremely
limited impact on local politics” because they were isolated as individuals or small
groups on the council. Councillors from the main parties often disliked their BNP colleagues
and deemed having to work alongside them as an affront to dignity and decency.
Questions were often raised as to whether BNP councillors could adequately represent
the interests of all of their local constituents. On being elected, Beackon for instance stated
that he refused to serve his Asian constituents in Millwall. There were also allegations made
that BNP councillors had particularly low attendance at council meetings, although research
indicated that this was not the case, with the BNP’s attendance record being largely
average.There is evidence to suggest that racially and religiously motivated crime increased
in those areas where BNP councillors had been elected. For instance, after the 1993 election
of Beackon, there was a spike in racist attacks in the borough of Tower Hamlets. BNP members
were directly responsible for some of this; the party’s national organiser Richard Edmonds
was sentenced to three months imprisonment for his part in an attack on a black man and
his white girlfriend.===Regional assemblies and parliaments===BNP lead candidate Richard Barnbrook won a
seat in the London Assembly in May 2008, after the party gained 5.3% of the London-wide vote.
However, in August 2010, he resigned the party whip and became an independent.In the 2007
Welsh Assembly elections, the BNP fielded 20 candidates, four in each of the five regional
lists, with Nick Griffin standing in the South Wales West region. It did not win any seats,
but was the only minor party to have saved deposits in the electoral regions, one in
the North Wales region and the other in the South Wales West region. In total the BNP
polled 42,197 votes (4.3%). In the 2011 Welsh Assembly elections, the
BNP fielded 20 candidates, four in each of the five regional lists and for the first
time 7 candidates were fielded in FPTP constituencies. On the regional lists, the BNP polled 22,610
votes (2.4%), down 1.9% from 2007. In 2 out of the 7 FPTP constituencies contested the
BNP saved deposits: (Swansea East and Islwyn).In the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, the
party fielded 32 candidates, entitling it to public funding and an election broadcast,
prompting criticism. The BNP received 24,616 votes (1.2%), no seats were won, nor were
any deposits saved. In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, the BNP fielded 32 candidates in
the regional lists. 15,580 votes were polled (0.78%).The BNP fielded 3 candidates for the
first time in three constituencies each in the 2011 Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly
elections (Belfast East, East Antrim and South Antrim). 1,252 votes were polled (0.2%), winning
no seats for the party.===European Parliament===The BNP has taken part in European Parliament
elections since 1999, when they received 1.13% of the total vote (102,647 votes).
In the 2004 elections to the European Parliament, the BNP won 4.9% of the vote, making it the
sixth biggest party overall, but did not win any seats.The BNP won two seats in the European
Parliament in the 2009 elections. Andrew Brons was elected in the Yorkshire and the Humber
regional constituency with 9.8% of the vote. Party chairman Nick Griffin was elected in
the North West region, with 8% of the vote. Nationally, the BNP received 6.26%.
The British Government announced in 2009 that the BNP’s two MEPs would be denied some of
the access and information afforded to other MEPs. The BNP would be subject to the “same
general principles governing official impartiality” and they would receive “standard written briefings
as appropriate from time to time”, but diplomats would not be “proactive” in dealing with the
BNP MEPs and that any requests for policy briefings from them would be treated differently
and on a discretionary basis.==Association with violence==
The leaders and senior officers of the BNP have criminal convictions for inciting racial
hatred. John Hagan claims that the BNP has conducted
right-wing extremist violence to gain “institutionalized power”. Critics of the BNP, such as Human
Rights Watch in a 1997 report, have asserted that the party recruits from skinhead groups
and that it promotes racist violence.In the past, Nick Griffin has defended the threat
of violence to further the party’s aims. After the BNP won its first council seat in 1993,
he wrote that the BNP should not be a “postmodernist rightist party” but “a strong, disciplined
organisation with the ability to back up its slogan ‘Defend Rights for Whites’ with well-directed
boots and fists. When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational
debate”. In 1997 he said: “It is more important to control the streets of a city than its
council chambers.”A BBC Panorama programme reported on a number of BNP members who have
had criminal convictions, some racially motivated. Some of the more notable convictions include: John Tyndall had convictions for assault and
organising paramilitary neo-Nazi activities. In 1986 he was jailed for conspiracy to publish
material likely to incite racial hatred. In 1998, Nick Griffin was convicted of violating
section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986, relating to incitement to racial hatred. He received
a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was fined £2,300.
Joseph Owens, a BNP candidate in Liverpool’s local elections, served eight months in prison
for sending razor blades in the post to Jewish people and another term for carrying CS gas
and knuckledusters. Colin Smith, who in 2004 was the BNP’s South
East London organiser, has 17 convictions for burglary, theft, possession of drugs and
assaulting a police officer. Richard Edmonds, at the time BNP National
Organiser, was sentenced to three months in prison in 1994 for his part in a racist attack.
Edmonds threw a glass at the victim as he was walking past an East London pub where
a group of BNP supporters was drinking. Others then ‘glassed’ the man in the face and punched
and kicked him as he lay on the ground, including BNP supporter Stephen O’Shea, who was jailed
for 12 months. Another BNP supporter, Simon Biggs, was jailed for four and a half years
for his part in the attack.==Reception==In 2011, Goodwin described the BNP as being
“the most successful party in the history of the extreme right in Britain”. That same
year, John E. Richardson noted that it had achieved “a level of electoral success that
is unparalleled in the history of British fascism”. The historian Alan Sykes stated
that “in electoral terms”, the BNP achieved “more in the first three years of the twenty-first
century” than the British far right “as a whole achieved in the previous seventy”. However,
Copsey noted that the party’s belief that one day the conditions would be right for
it to win a general election belonged to the “Never-Never Land of British politics”. Copsey
also noted that the BNP’s electoral successes had been modest in comparison to those achieved
by extreme-right groups elsewhere in Western Europe such as France’s National Front, Italy’s
National Alliance, and Belgium’s Vlaams Blok.The BNP’s growth met a hostile reaction, and in
2011 the political scientists Copsey and Macklin described it as “Britain’s most disliked party”.
It was widely reviled as racist and even following Griffin’s “modernisation” project it was still
heavily tainted by its associations with neo-Nazism. For many years it remained closely associated
with the National Front in the British public imagination.
The BNP remained unable to gain a broad appeal or widespread credibility. In a 2004 poll,
seven out of ten voters said that they would never consider voting for the BNP. A 2009
poll found that two-thirds would “under no circumstances” consider voting BNP, while
only 4% of respondents would “definitely consider” voting for them.The Conservative leader Michael
Howard stated that the BNP were a “stain” on British democracy, adding that “this is
not a political movement, this is a bunch of thugs dressed up as a political party”.
His successor David Cameron described it as a “completely unacceptable” organisation which
“thrives on hatred”. The Labour prime minister, Tony Blair, called it a “nasty, extreme organisation”,
while the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg termed it a “party of thugs and fascists”.
In 2004, the General Synod of the Church of England declared that supporting the BNP was
incompatible with Christianity, comparing it to “spitting in the face of God”. Christian
groups throughout Britain have maintained that the BNP’s hostility toward cultural and
ethnic diversity in the country was at odds with mainstream Christianity’s emphasis on
inclusiveness, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue. Winston Churchill’s family has criticised
the BNP’s use of his image and quotations, labelling it “offensive and disgusting”. The
singer Vera Lynn condemned the party for selling her CD on its website. In 2009, the Royal
British Legion asked Griffin—at first privately and then publicly—to not wear their poppy
symbol.The British police, Fire Brigades Union, and Church of England, prohibited its members
from joining the BNP. In 2002, Martin Narey, banned BNP membership among prison workers;
he subsequently received death threats. In 2010, the Education Secretary Michael Gove
announced bans allowing headteachers to ban their staff from being party members.
Individuals whose membership of the party was made public sometimes faced ostracism
and the loss of their job: examples include a school headmaster who had to resign, a caretaker
who was sacked after attending a BNP rally, and a police officer dismissed from his position.
After BNP membership lists were leaked on the Internet, a number of police forces investigated
officers whose names appeared on the lists.In 2005, an invitation to Nick Griffin by the
University of St Andrews Union Debating Society to participate in a debate on multiculturalism
was withdrawn after protests. The BNP says that National Union of Journalists guidelines
on reporting “far right” organisations forbid unionised journalists from reporting uncritically
on the party. In April 2007, an election broadcast was cancelled by BBC Radio Wales whose lawyers
believed that the broadcast was defamatory of the Chief Constable of North Wales Police,
Richard Brunstrom. The BNP claimed that BBC editors were following an agenda.===Mainstream media and academia===Attitudes toward the BNP in both mainstream
broadcast media and print journalism have been overwhelmingly negative, and no mainstream
newspaper has endorsed the party. This hostile coverage has even been found in right-wing
tabloids like the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun which otherwise share the BNP’s
hostile attitude toward issues like immigration. In 2003, the Daily Mail described the BNP
as “poisonous bigots”, while in 2004 The Sun printed the headline of “BNP: Bloody Nasty
People”. Senior BNP figures nevertheless believed that these tabloids’ hostile coverage of immigration
and Islam helped to legitimise and normalise the party and its views among much of the
British public, a view echoed by some academic observers. When, in 2004, anti-racist activists
picketed outside the Daily Mail office in central London to protest against its negative
coverage of asylum seekers, BNP members organised a counter-picket at which they displayed the
placard “Vote BNP, Read the Daily Mail”.The BNP initially faced a ‘no platform for fascists’
policy from the broadcast media, although this eroded as Griffin was invited on to a
number of television programmes amid the party’s growing electoral success. When the BBC invited
him to appear on Question Time in 2009 it was criticised by several trade unions, sections
of the media, and several Labour politicians, all of whom believed that the BNP should not
be given a public platform. Anti-fascist protesters assembled outside of the television studio
to protest Griffin’s inclusion.The first academic attention to be directed at the BNP appeared
after it gained a councillor in the 1993 local elections. Nevertheless, throughout the 1990s
it remained the subject of little academic research. Academic interest increased following
its victories at local elections from 2002 onward. The first detailed monograph study
to be devoted to the party was Nigel Copsey’s Contemporary British Fascism, first published
in 2004. In September 2008, an academic symposium on the BNP was held at Teesside University.===The wider extreme-right and anti-fascists
===Opposition to the BNP also came from the organised
anti-fascist movement. By the mid-1990s, the BNP’s attempts to stage public events in Scotland,
the North West and the Midlands were largely thwarted by the militant disruption of the
Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) group. The BNP’s modernisation and move away from street demonstrations
and toward electoral campaigning caused problems for the AFA, who proved unable to successfully
change their tactics; on those occasions when AFA activists tried to forcibly disrupt BNP
activities, they were prevented and arrested by riot police. More liberal sections of the anti-fascist
movement sought to counter the BNP through community-based initiatives. Searchlight encouraged
trade unions to establish localised campaigns that would ensure that ethnic minority and
other anti-BNP locals voted. It suggested that such campaigns should avoid associating
with the mainstream parties from which BNP voters felt disenfranchised and that they
should not be afraid of calling out Islamic fundamentalists and extremists active in the
area. The Unite Against Fascism group also sought to maximise anti-BNP turnout at elections,
calling on the electorate to vote for “anyone but fascists”. Evidence suggests that such
anti-fascist activities did little to erode the far-right vote; this was in part because
anti-fascist groups had encouraged the stereotype that BNP candidates were violent skinheads,
something which conflicted with the more normal, friendly image that BNP activists cultivated
when canvassing.The BNP often received a hostile response from other sections of the British
extreme-right. Some extreme-right-wingers, such as the British Freedom Party, expressed
frustration at the party’s inability to moderate itself further on the issue of race, while
those such as Colin Jordan and the NF accused the BNP—particularly under Griffin’s leadership—of
being too moderate. This latter view was articulated by an extreme-right groupuscule, the International
Third Position, when it claimed that the BNP “has been openly courting the Jewish vote
and pumping out material which confirms what most us knew years ago: the BNP has become
a multi-racist, Zionist, queer-tolerant anti-Muslim pressure group”.In ASLEF v. United Kingdom,
the European Court of Human Rights overturned an employment appeal tribunal ruling that
awarded BNP member and train driver Jay Lee damages for expulsion from a trade union.
In Redfearn v United Kingdom, the court ruled that members of racist organisations could
lawfully be dismissed on health and safety grounds if there was a danger of violence
occurring in the workplace. In November 2012, the European Court of Human Rights made a
majority ruling (4 to 3) that in Redfearn’s case against the UK government, his rights
under Article 11 (free association) had been infringed, but not those under Article 10
(free expression) or Article 14 (discrimination).==See also==
List of political parties in the United Kingdom opposed to austerity==Notes

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