What is the British National Party?
The British National Party (BNP) is a far-right political party that operates throughout the UK. It was formed in 1982 from the remnants of the old National Front.
The BNP claim around 7,000 members, However it exaggerates its support and paid up members number between 3000-5000.
When the party was led by its founder John Tyndall (1982-1999) it was easily identified with Nazism through its extreme and provocative activities, associations and publications as well as its active denial of the facts of the Holocaust.
However, the BNP has undergone a number of ideological shifts and personnel changes during its 28 years.
John Tyndall (left) poses with fellow Spearhead members in the Notting Hill HQ of Colin Jordan's National Socialist Movement in 1962Tyndall (pictured left) was deposed as chairman in 1999 by a faction of “modernisers” led by Griffin who, ironically, had been responsible for some of the more extreme articles in BNP publications such as Spearhead (which he secretly edited for a period) and in his own journal The Rune, which led to his conviction for inciting racial hatred in 1998.
The organisation still rejects integration, equality and basic human and civil rights for people it describes as “non-indigenous” or “civic British” and claims to put the interests of “the British people”, by which it means white Britons, first. So, while the BNP has attempted to distance itself from its past it remains a racist party in the European fascist tradition.
The BNP has described itself as British nationalist, racial nationalist and more recently, ethno-nationalist. Its leader, Nick Griffin, has at times also referred to the party as a civil rights movement, especially since its electoral defeat in May 2010.
In recent years the party has concentrated on opposing Islam and actively campaigns against the establishment of mosques, halal meat and what it calls the “Islamification” of the UK.
It claimed in January 2011 that white people were being “exterminated” from British cities by means of “ethnic cleansing”. It also seeks to build support by a populist opposition to the war in Afghanistan.
Griffin and his colleague Andrew Brons were elected to the European Parliament in 2009. Since then the party has gone downhill, with severe financial problems and disastrous management by Griffin, who acts as a dictator. Andrew Brons quit the party at the end of 2012 to form his own political party in 2013 The British Democratic Party, (BDP). The BDP has done little since.
In 2013 the BNP's poor state of political health was exposed when in the County Council elections, the party stood some 300 candidates less than at the reciprocal elections in 2009 and very few of them managed to gain more than 10% of the poll. For the first time since 2002 the party are without representation in Burnley and remains divided and moribund in most parts of London and Yorkshire.
The party has survived financially on pressuring members to leave the BNP property and cash in their wills. The BNP's leader, Nick Griffin, has fought a desperate battle with Stephen Lennon of the English Defence League (EDL), for control of the hearts and minds of the far-right presence on the streets, but in a see-saw battle, is at the moment on the back foot.
With the party in both financial and electoral decline, the BNP has had to rely on more controversial means of gaining publicity, including the use of conspiracy theories. A planned march by the BNP in Woolwich in June 2013 was banned by the police, forcing Griffin into a humiliating public appeal for help from the EDL's leader. This help was refused.
Including Griffin, the party now only has three elected officials in the whole of the UK.