Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Ructions in the BNP

The British National Party is undergoing one of its periodic attempts at self-destruction. Little of the turmoil in the party has reached public notice. The BBC tersely reported that London Assembly Member Richard Barnbrook has resigned the party whip but doesn't report why.

In fact the reason is difficult to discern. Barnbrook himself isn't saying.

It's a measure of his dissatisfaction though that he attempted to stand against Nick Griffin, the incumbent Chairman, at this year's leadership election. He only got 23 nominations from members - he needed 840 (20% of voting members) to get on the ballot. Pub landlord Derek Adams received four votes and ex-national elections officer Eddy Butler got 214. Griffin himself received 995 nominations and was returned as Chairman without a vote being held. (Source)

There is now considerable disquiet about how the party is being run. Griffin is a charismatic leader but he seems to lack administrative know-how. The party's finances are in a dire state, £580,000 in debt and there are several court cases in progress, including the infamous EHRC case now progressing to the High Court, cases from suppliers who haven't been paid, and from former employees of the party sacked without due process. Each of these cases will have a price tag associated with it.

Marmitegate went to court when Unilever issued a writ for misuse of their logo. This cost the party tens of thousands of pounds (the exact amount is secret) when Unilever would have settled for an apology.

In addition substantial funds are being paid out to a fund-raising consultant based in Northern Ireland, over £160,000 a year. This person is not a member of the party and many feel he is not value for money and what he does would be better done by volunteer members.

The fact that the party is haemorrhaging cash and could be declared bankrupt is spooking people fearful that they may have liability for the party's debts. The EHRC would love to make Griffin personally bankrupt, that would disqualify him from standing for parliament.

Griffin is trying to remedy the situation but it's all a bit late. A significant anti-Griffin camp has built up and it won't easily be mollified. There's a perception that Griffin is profiteering from his position as Chairman, and clinging to power by dubious means, for example the requirement to have 840 nominations to challenge him is onerous. The party's constitution is riddled with clauses that give Griffin near-autocratic power, including the authority to change the constitution itself without a plebiscite.

Ironically, the BNP going bankrupt might be a good thing! A new Nationalist party would certainly arise from the ashes and it would be able to start with no debt and a fresh constitution, and without the ill-will that Griffin has engendered and so be acceptable to the large number of former BNP members not prepared to help the party while Griffin is running it.

1 comment:

Ape said...

A well-balanced post. You're right about the "anti-Griffin" camp, it grows by the day.