Brouhaha in Britain over leaked list of BNP members

The Independent reports,

The British National Party’s membership list has been published on the internet in defiance of a court order. It was put up on the internet on Monday night but has since been removed, although by then copies had already been made. Nick Griffin, the party’s leader, tried to cover his embarrassment by claiming yesterday that the range of ages and occupations of his members disproved the caricature that the typical member was a “skinhead oik”.

What was on the list?

It was the full list of the party’s 13,500 UK members, up to date last year, including their home addresses, in and in many cases their occupations, phone numbers and email addresses. The occupations included teachers, ministers of religion, doctors, nurses, two solicitors, members of the armed forces, several “government employees” and a small number of police officers – who have not been permitted by law since 2004 to belong to the BNP.

The article continues,

The original publication was on the face of it a clear breach of the Data Protection Act 1998, and may also have been in contempt of court, in that the BNP obtained an injunction against its publication earlier this year. The legality of subsequent publication is less clear.

In one of the more piquant twists of the affair, Griffin was forced yesterday to admit that his party was hoping to rely on the right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights in its attempts to limit further publication. The BNP is opposed both to the Convention and to the Human Rights Act that incorporates it into British law.

It makes the further observation that

The exposure of party members’ names and personal details has opened many of them to harassment, ostracisation and even dismissal from their jobs.

In describing the BNP, author John Rentoul says

Are BNP members racist?

Many of the callers to phone-ins were keen to stress how respectable they and fellow members were, and to put a distance between themselves and the thuggish image of the National Front, one of the BNP’s precursors. Even so, it becomes quickly apparent that the party is largely motivated by the single issue of immigration, and that racism is never far from the surface. Several variants of the classic “I’m not a racist but” line were heard yesterday, including “I’ve got a friend who is Indian”, but sadly none of the honesty heard by Daniel Finkelstein, who claims when canvassing for the Conservative Party to have come across someone who said: “I’m not a racist but I hate black people.”

Although Nick Griffin was acquitted on the charge of inciting racial hatred two years ago, his words at a private meeting of BNP members, filmed covertly, were in sharp contrast to his attempts to present himself in public as a reasonable moderate who just happens to be opposed to immigration. He described Islam as a “wicked, vicious faith” and said Muslims were turning Britain into a “multi-racial hell hole”, while another BNP speaker said: “Let’s show these ethnics the door in 2004.”

And as anti-BNP bloggers pointed out yesterday, the BNP’s constitution is explicitly racist in that it says: “Membership of the party shall be open only to those who are 16 years of age or over and whose ethnic origin is listed within Sub-section 2.”

The BNP – and some of its left-wing opponents – claim that the focus on the issue of immigration by Labour and Conservative parties gives it legitimacy. Griffin, who is an occasionally plausible media performer, has pursued a long-term strategy of portraying the party as democratic and non-violent.

As further fallout from the leaked BNP list, the Times Online reports

The Green Party was forced to admit today that two of its former leading lights were on a list of British National Party members leaked on the internet this week.

The party conceded this morning that Keith Bessant, a two-time parliamentary candidate, and Rev John Stanton, a former local party chairman, had defected to the far-right nationalist organisation.

A spokesman for the Green Party claimed today that Mr Bessant was in the BNP not because he was a racist but because he felt they had better environmental policies. “He formed the opinion that the BNP climate change policy was more radical than ours,” he said.

“He didn’t hold any racist or bigoted views and I believe he left after a couple of weeks. It’s amazing how little people know about the BNP.”

Mr Bessant, who ran for MP as a Green Party candidate in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in 2001 and 2005, claims to have left the BNP soon after joining.

The party also confirmed that a church minister, the Rev John Stanton, from Rochford, Essex, whose name also appeared on the membership list, was once a local Green Party chairman.

Rev Stanton, 76, said he joined the BNP because of immigration concerns. “I am not a racist,” he said. “It’s Islam I don’t like, not Muslims. If a Muslim family moved next door, I would treat them like any other family.”

In the Independent’s Open House, John Rentoul writes:

What I meant was “one of the names that was not surprising at all”, because there has been a philosophical overlap between the “deep” green movement and fascism from the early years of both.

This reminded me of the origins of the British National Party in the break-up of the National Front in 1980, and the confusion that followed. For a while there were two National Fronts, as well as a growing BNP. The larger NF fell under the influence of Patrick Harrington, the most recent prophet of the “Third Way” before Tony Blair (the phrase has both fascist and centrist antecedents, with Oswald Mosley’s New Party and Harold Macmillan both using it in the 1930s).

The NF relaunched itself as the National Democrats in 1995 as a final spasm before lapsing into its present almost moribund state. But that whole phase was heavily influenced by an eco-nationalist message based on the “blood and soil” notion of a smaller, more sustainable, culturally and ethnically homogenous population, a kind of sub-Tolkien Anglo-Saxon fantasy.It is a fantasy that can come uncomfortably close to some of the more backward-looking politics of the fundamentalist wing of the green movement.

21 thoughts on “Brouhaha in Britain over leaked list of BNP members

  1. Trent Hill

    “and a small number of police officers – who have not been permitted by law since 2004 to belong to the BNP. ”

    Wow.

  2. JimDavidson

    Are they brewing beer with laughter, or talking about an uproar. If uproar, the word is brouhaha. Brouhaha, meaning a lot of confused Frenchmen making a hubbub.

  3. paulie cannoli Post author

    I guess the BNP is a xenophobic British third party, like the Know-Nothings were here?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party

    “and a small number of police officers – who have not been permitted by law since 2004 to belong to the BNP. ”

    Wow.

    From one of the articles:

    “A policeman in Liverpool was facing the sack today after the police watchdog ruled that the Merseyside force could take robust action against Steve Bettley if he was found to be a genuine member of the BNP.

    Since 2004, the police bans membership of the BNP because of its perceived racist views. A spokesman said: “Whether Merseyside PC Steve Bettley was, or is, a member of BNP is subject to an ongoing inquiry.

    “Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe has reiterated our position that membership of the BNP is totally incompatible with the duties and values of Merseyside Police. We will not accept a police officer or police staff being a member of the BNP.” “

  4. paulie cannoli Post author

    From wikipedia:

    ——————–

    Organisations which ban BNP membership

    Police

    Membership of the BNP, C18 and the National Front in the police forces was specifically prohibited by David Blunkett[citation needed], following an undercover TV exposure of racism in a police training centre[166]. Despite this, Simon Darby has claimed that the BNP still has members who remain covert. Police authorities have taken this very seriously and Manchester Police Authority have viewed footage taken at BNP events in order to identify off-duty officers in attendance at a BNP St George’s Day rally, wearing BNP badges and T-shirts, with the slogan “Love Britain or Fuck Off”. [167] A retired police officer, standing as a European Assembly candidate, Inspector Phazey, has said that he was a member in defiance of the prohibition and that other serving officers remained members. He denied that he was a racist or that the police were institutionally racist, saying;

    Of course you heard words like Paki and nigger, but it didn’t mean much more than someone saying Paddy for an Irishman or Jerry for a German. It was just the language of working-class blokes. There was a fair bit of leg-pulling but it was never malicious. I remember there was one officer who, whenever an Asian officer came into the room, would go, ‘Coon, coon,’ like he was making the noise of a pigeon. But it was a joke. It’s like saying Paddies are as thick as two short planks or Jocks are tight-fisted. It was just jokes in the canteen. You’ll get that anywhere when you have men in their 20s and 30s together.[168]

    A Police Community Support Officer, Ellis Hammond, was found to be a BNP member after he was discovered stockpiling weapons at his home, including tasers.[169]

    Prison service

    A ban on BNP membership was imposed by Martin Narey, Director of the Prison Service in 2002. Narey told the BBC that he received hate mail and a death threat as a result. [170]

    Other professions

    Bans on BNP membership in the probation service and the civil services have been under consideration.[171][172] A proposal to ban the BNP from Dorset Fire Brigade, proposed by the management and the Fire Brigades Union, was turned down by the Fire Authority.[173] The chairman of the BNP-linked trade union “Solidarity”, Adam Walker, was sacked by his college for accessing BNP websites and posting comments. He has been summoned to a hearing of the General Teaching Council, which could result in him being banned from working as a teacher in England.[174] His brother, Mark Adams, was suspended from another college, for looking at the BNP website on a school computer. The school denies it has acted because of his political affiliation.[174][22]

    The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has refused to act against a BNP council candidate, Ian Johnson, after he wrote in his election leaflets that he was a retained firefighter, despite Fire Brigades Union pressure to do so.[175]

    Liam Birch, a sociology student standing as a BNP council candidate for Southway was sacked as assistant warden at Plymouth University, when his BNP membership was known via an internet blog concerning the Holocaust, in which he declared “The Jews declared war on Germany, not the other way round”.[176]

    Simone Clarke was a principal ballerina at the English National Ballet and a deputy for the entertainer’s union Equity. Clarke’s membership of the BNP was unknown until exposed by an undercover Guardian journalist in 2006. Her performances were picketted by anti-fascists demanding her sacking. However the ENB refused to do so, as she had done nothing else to warrant this. She was supported by her union Equity.[177]

  5. paulie cannoli Post author

    And from the first article:

    ——

    The publication of the membership list is likely, if anything, to prompt calls for members of other occupations to be banned from BNP membership. So far, only police officers and prison service employees are banned from membership of the BNP and similar organisations, on the grounds that racial discrimination, which is BNP policy, is against the law.

    Far from gaining acceptance, the exposure of teachers as BNP members, in particular, is likely to increase pressure to ban the profession from membership.

  6. paulie cannoli Post author

    I think they are afraid that racists will infiltrate the police and prison guards and abuse their authority.

    Much of Europe actually bans these type of parties entirely, far from our sometime view of Europe as socially liberal or civil libertarian.

  7. Ross Levin

    If you’re taking a libertarian perspective, it’s not ridiculous for organizations to ban party membership. It’s their decision, and you don’t have to join an organization that bans membership to the BNP.

  8. Trent Hill

    Government jobs dont get to ban people Ross–they are public institutions. Study up a bit more on libertarianism.

  9. Ross Levin

    I meant other than the police. But don’t even the police get to ban people, like the military gets to take civil rights away from its members? You have to agree to the police’s terms before accepting a job there, and you’re not required to accept a job there.

  10. Trent Hill

    Ross,

    But should applying for a government job require holding certain political beliefs or not-joining certain civic, charity, or political groups?

    Imagine it was backwards and the police didnt allow anyone from the Green party to join out of fear that they might irrationally puling over every car in an attempt to lower the Carbon Footprint of the city.

  11. popeye67

    Im not a racist but – wounded british soldiers returning from iraq and afghanistan told not to wear their uniforms on hospital visits after muslim hospital staff verbally abused them and refused to treat them, being told to take down the national flag on st georges day so not to offend muslims, if your a white straight male and you want to join the police forget it your application wont even be looked at , all tv radio and newspapers have to sign an agreement not to report racist offences carried out by ethnic minorities, police officers proven to have links with extreme islamic groups like al-qaeda not sacked despite MI5 finding Jihad literature and films of be-headings on their computers, when channel four ran a documentary about the wide spread grooming of white underage schoolgirls by asian men there was an immediate police investigation, not into the accusations but into whether the documentary maker should face charges of inciting racial predjudice (only dropped when they discovered the reporter was herself an asian), asians are ltterally getting away with murder in britain, the govrnment and the police are too scared of being branded racist to say anything so they stick their head in the sand and hope the problem will go away, the problem hasnt gone away its getting worse and the BNP are the only people willing to talk about it never mind do anything, am i a racist, no more than the next man, i dont want to be treated any better than anyone else i just dont want to be treated like a second class citizen in my own country and at the moment thats exactly whats happening.

  12. JimDavidson

    Well, popeye67, here’s the thing. In the 13th Century your fellows fought against a tyrant. Yeomen and barons made King John sign the Magna Carta. In it, you yeomen were promised in perpetuity the right to keep and bear arms. It says so. I’ve read it. You should too.

    You feel like a second class citizen in the country you live in because you have no power. Power blossoms from the barrel of a gun, even if you don’t ever shoot it.

    You were disarmed. Among the other harm being disarmed brings to you, it causes you to be despised.

    Yes, you are despised in your own country by your own government. When the government does not fear the people, the people come to fear the government.

    You might well be a racist, I don’t know you at all. I will say that being in the BNP does not mean you must necessarily be a racist. A racist is someone who does certain things, like bashing Pakistanis because they’re from Pakistan. A racist is someone who says certain things, especially about other ethnicities or races. I don’t really see anything you’ve said that is exceptionally bad in that way. (But, I don’t know what you say to yer mates in the pub when you’ve had a few, either.)

    A racist might also be someone who does nothing and says nothing but thinks racist thoughts. And, so far, they can’t stop you from thinking. And since everyone thinks, anyway, I don’t mind what you think.

    Let’s not beat around the bush, though. You are a second class citizen. The guys with hounds and horses who go hunting in Canada, those are the first class citizens in your country. The lords and the ladies, with their insipid conversations and their curtsying and bowing and prating.

    If you want what’s yours to stay yours, you need to be able to defend it. And with the UK looking at knives, banning swords and knives, you’d best take up archery. It served your ancestors in the 13th Century well. You might also look into zip guns and other technologies. Molotov cocktails.

    The problems you describe are not in other people, other races, but in your government. And if you want your life, your liberty, and your property, then you need a better government. I think it very doubtful the BNP are going to bring you a better government. Which leaves it up to you, and your mates.

    You might not be able to get rid of the bad government you have. It’s always tougher for a people who have already been disarmed. But it has been done. Look at the Czechs or the Estonians, say.

    You might be able to make the country unlivable for those who think they own you. And that might be worth doing. Would you rather live on your knees as a slave, or die on your feet as a man?

    Perhaps it hasn’t come to that. But you ought to be thinking about whether it has.

  13. popeye67

    Maybe its coming to that point when when the police arrest 13 people for handing out a leaflet called “racism cuts both ways” that highlights the racist murders and attacks that the media wont cover, there was a lad in Glasgow who was tortured for hours and had petrol poured over him and set alight and the police did nothing, they knew who had done it and that they had returned to pakistan, it wasnt untill the BNP got involved that that anything was done, the funny thing is if it ever does kick off in this country it wont be black against white, black people are as sick of this as the rest of us, the problem is asians many of them born in this country, not all of them most just want to get on and earn a butty, if i am a racist why does every black person i talk to seem to agree with me.

  14. darolew

    “The larger NF fell under the influence of Patrick Harrington, the most recent prophet of the “Third Way” before Tony Blair (the phrase has both fascist and centrist antecedents, with Oswald Mosley’s New Party and Harold Macmillan both using it in the 1930s).”

    Looks like someone is conflating “Third Way” with “Third Positionist”.

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