I sent out an e-mail on 10th May (which is reproduced on this Blog – see Dear Colleague below) and the Party Leadership responded on 11th May with it’s own e-mail entitled ‘An Update from BNP Leader Nick Griffin’.
It soon became apparent that the BNP Leadership was going into overdrive in setting out its stall in the event of a leadership challenge materialising. A further Chairman’s e-mail bulletin soon followed, along with a six page Organiser’s bulletin, a two day conference, two Radio RWB interviews with the Chairman and a special BNPtv interview. All of these were for internal Party political consumption.
I did not respond to any of these moves as I had earlier written a private e-mail to Nick Griffin asking him to meet and talk about trying to solve what I perceived as the Party’s internal problems. As protracted negotiations were taking place via various third parties in order to facilitate this meeting, I did not want to prejudice the possibility of it taking place.
This meeting has taken place and unfortunately did not resolve matters. Accordingly as the various messages sent out are clearly part of the Chairman’s own leadership campaign, as they are written to justify his own position within the Party, it is now appropriate that they be answered.
Initially I will look at the e-mail sent out on 11th May.
An Update from BNP Leader Nick Griffin
BNP Leader Mr Griffin has responded to an email sent out to BNP supporters purportedly by the party’s former National Elections Officer, Eddy Butler, which contained a number of explicit and implicit attacks on the current leadership team.
“I have not yet had an opportunity to speak to Mr Butler over the email, and as of yet don’t know if it is another fake email like the one rapidly rebutted by Bob Bailey,” Mr Griffin said.
No attempt was made to find out if the e-mail was fake – in fact they knew it was not as otherwise they wouldn’t have sent out their rebuttal.
“I find it somewhat difficult to believe that it could be real, as the email says that the election has been a setback ‘after five years work’ and that the party must ‘move out of stagnant waters’.
“First, our General Election results – though they did not reflect the enormous ‘soft’ public sympathy we all encountered on the doorsteps – were significantly better than five years ago. Second, Mr Butler was responsible for all our election campaigns for nearly a decade, including all the planning for the most recent one, so I cannot imagine he is actually criticising his own performance or seeking to blame others, since any ‘stagnation’ that has occurred in our campaigning abilities would primarily be his responsibility,” Mr Griffin said.
Despite being National Elections Officer I was excluded from the first election planning meeting (held in Brussels last November) which set in stone virtually all aspects of the campaign and was removed from post before the campaign proper started. I agreed in his e-mail that the results this year were a slight improvement but pointed out that slight improvements were not good enough. For big elections such as the General Election, local tactics, for a small party such as ours, count for little. The most important thing is to get the election address out – which the Party failed to do in many constituencies including Harlow which was contested by me! The main factor which affects our overall vote is our general rating in the population’s mind – conditioned by the overall image that we have managed to promote for ourselves. The stagnation referred to in my e-mail clearly referred to this, not to stagnation in electoral technique which for us only has relevance in smaller local elections.
“The email also calls for financial transparency. Once again, I cannot see how this email can be from Mr Butler and in good faith because he has sat on the BNP’s advisory council for nearly ten years and has never once mentioned this as an issue before. As National Organiser he had the position from which to raise any genuine concerns, but has never done so.
Members of the AC have frequently asked to see accounts and these have never been provided. Excuses and vague figures are all that have ever been presented.
“Mr Butler knows the party’s accounts are always published in full and are subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny by forces intensely hostile to the BNP,” continued Mr. Griffin.
The accounts lodged with the Electoral Commission for the past few years have been late and resulted in numerous fines. Last years accounts (for the calendar year 2008) were incomplete which was a total embarrassment for the Party and a disgrace.
“The Advisory Council on which Mr. Butler sat until very recently is responsible for choosing and appointing the independent chartered accountant who scrutinises and audits every single penny of income and expenditure. Neither Mr. Butler nor his close friend Mark Collett, nor any other member of the A.C., have ever questioned our employment of Frank Hogarth of Messrs Silver & Co as our professional independent auditor.
Mr Griffin knows that the AC has never appointed the Auditor or even been asked to approve the auditor that he has always chosen.
“Nor have Messrs Butler or Collett made the slightest attempt to exercise their right as members of the Advisory Council to inspect the party’s central and regional accounts and to question any National Treasurer about any aspect of the party’s finances at any of the dozens of Advisory Council and senior management meetings they have attended over their years in post.
“Additionally, Mr. Butler is also well aware that our independently audited accounts are every years subjected to intense and detailed scrutiny by the Electoral Commission – a body which has a clearly established record of bias against and hostility to our party. The Electoral Commission has a brief to ensure full transparency in the accounts of all political parties, and holds us to the highest standards of accountability.
“Mr Butler, who was until recently a European staff member employee, also knows that Andrew Brons and I are not permitted to so much as touch a cent of our European staff salary allowance money. This is paid direct from the European Parliament to our Paying Agent, another chartered accountant, who is approved by them and bound not only by law but also by his professional code of conduct to handle all such funds with the utmost probity. Mr. Butler would be extremely well aware of this reality, since he has been paid a substantial salary for his work for us as MPs every month since August last year.
“Our office expenses money is transferred directly to our constituency office managers into accounts run by two signatories. A full account of this income and the expenditure of this money in the North West region has been kept from Day 1 by Tina Wingfield and has been available on my website for months.
I made no mention of the European related finances.
“However, the thing that really makes me the most sceptical as to whether Mr Butler has written this email and whether it is written in good faith is its shockingly shallow discussion about party leadership.
“I don’t believe for a second that Mr Butler would really think that having a ‘pretty face’ as a new leader would stop a single attack against the BNP by the controlled mass media.
I didn’t mention a ‘pretty face’.
“Mr Butler has been in nationalist politics for decades and knows very well that it is the ideas for which the party stands which cause them to attack us. The personality or style of the leader, election candidates and others make not one jot of difference to those professional liars,” Mr Griffin said.
“The suggestion that it would, might fool a handful of the most naive new members – as it is clearly someone’s intention – but no seasoned nationalist could really believe such naive and politically juvenile nonsense for one moment.
This is clearly nonsense otherwise we may just as well have stuck with John Tyndall – and Nick Griffin was indeed fond of pointing out the baggage that JT carried. It is clearly absurd to suggest that: “The personality or style of the leader, election candidates and others make not one jot of difference to those professional liars”. Is he saying it makes no difference to the public? or the electorate? Mr Griffin has since conceded that he carries too much baggage and that for the good of the Party he needs to go before the next big election.
“That said, it is clear that someone is out to cause trouble, and appears to have done so using an email list acquired during his or her time working for us. That, of course, is a breach of our Constitution as well as of our members’ rights under the Data Protection Act. Formal solicitor’s letters have today been sent to three former members of staff reminding them of their obligations in this regard and warning that any flouting of the law will be met with injunctions and claims for damages.”
No such letter has been received by me or anyone else I know, so he must be talking about three other people not known to me. I have personal e-mail addresses that I have on my personal e-mail accounts – as everyone does. If I chose to send those people an e-mail then it is none of the Chairman’s business. I have never misused any membership list that I have ever had access to.
In conclusion, Mr. Griffin has this message for all our members and supporters: “Of course the local council results were deeply disappointing, but the answer has to be to learn from how Labour organised to maximise their vote and depress not only ours but also those of Respect and the Christians. We are already well into that process, and I’m looking forward to our rolling out the Education & Training programme that will turn our new knowledge and techniques into productive action for the future.
“Most important of all, more than 8,000 enquiries have already been passed from our Belfast admin centre to our Regional Organisers. That’s a huge harvest of potential new members and activists just waiting to be visited and signed up. Speed is of the essence here, so this is no time for ‘what ifs?’ and navel gazing. Together, we’ve got work to do!”
Mr Griffin will recall that the National Front contested the 1983 General Election with about 60 candidates who got a paltry vote. They got about 6,000 enquiries. I would suggest that the 10,000 or so obtained this time are actually a poor return – but understandably poor as a very high proportion of our election addresses did not get delivered by the Royal Mail due to late delivery from the Belfast printer that the contract was awarded to. Obviously the enquiries that have been received need to be followed up efficiently.
Nick Griffin, MEP”