The only time I came across the leader of the BNP was following the 2006 City Council Elections when I was helping out Jean Bowers in Birches Head. I went to the Wheatsheaf Pub in Stoke afterwards before the count with my brother. The pub was full of BNP supporters who were expecting big gains in the elections- they were to be disappointed. Sitting at a table enjoying a meal was the leader of the BNP surrounded by muscular, shaven headed men in suits. Griffin was eating a curry.
I tipped off the Guardian about Griffin’s multi cultural tastes and got £50 for my scoop.
The BNP were in the news again yesterday. A speedily arranged meeting was arranged in Essex following a decision by the courts which told the BNP that they were acting illegally in refusing membership to non whites. The party was ordered to amend its constitution to comply with race relations laws or face legal action by the Equality Commission. After the hearing on 28 January, the BNP rushed out letters to its 14,000 members in order to allow for the 14 days needed to alert them to the proposed changes.
The meeting was not without incident. As reported on the Harry’s Place blog.
“BNP security guards assaulted and expelled Dominic Kennedy, the Times journalist who was reporting the party’s meeting
Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, declared after the meeting: “We will carry on throwing The Times out until they report the truth. That’s all we ask.” The Times meets that request with journalistic scrupulousness and no little incredulity. If Mr Griffin wants the truth to be told about the BNP, we can recount it from direct observation. The BNP purports to be a legitimate party; yet its behaviour reveals it at every turn to be exploitative, cynical, xenophobic and thuggish.
Political parties by definition have a point of view. A newspaper’s responsibility is to report their actions and statements fairly but with critical detachment. When Mr Kennedy entered the BNP’s press conference, Richard Barnbrook, a BNP member of the London Assembly, demanded that he leave. Mr Barnbrook had taken exception to a profile of him published in Saturday’s edition of The Times. That was enough.
Mr Kennedy was not attending the meeting covertly. He had expressly been invited to report on it by Simon Darby, the party’s national press officer. On pointing this out, Mr Kennedy was physically ejected. His nose was grabbed, twisted and bloodied. A punch was thrown. He was pushed into a parked car outside the building.
The BNP now likes to pose as a normal British political party. In fact, they are no such thing. In this country, it is not normal for political parties to rough up journalists. In this country, it is not normal for people to disown racism for reasons of convenience, rather than conviction. In this country, it is not normal to hijack the birthday celebrations of a wounded soldier for electoral gain. The BNP like to boast their Britishness but seem to have forgotten the most essential British values: free speech and fairness, compassion and respect. Yesterday, the BNP showed they are many things, but not British”