It is now almost two years since the British National Party scraped over the 5% hurdle and won a seat on the London Assembly, so this is an appropriate point to examine the BNP’s political record at City Hall.
Over that period the role of the party’s London Assembly member, Richard Barnbrook, has been exactly what you would expect from a representative of the BNP. One of his first contributions to Mayor’s Question Time was to demand a ban on the Notting Hill Carnival. On whatever subject he has intervened at MQT, Barnbrook has invariably reduced the issue to the BNP’s obsession with race and immigration.
By way of variety, at last month’s MQT he treated us to an exposition of his party’s line that human activity is not the primary cause of global warming – despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. But then the BNP spent many years rejecting the equally incontrovertible evidence concerning the Nazi genocide against the Jews. From Holocaust denial they have now moved on to climate change denial.
Eighteen months ago I wrote that Barnbrook’s rambling and incoherent interventions at MQT had reduced him to an object of ridicule, which led to the first of three complaints by Barnbrook against myself to the GLA Standards Committee. They were all rejected, along with another complaint against my colleague John Biggs, who had referred to Barnbrook’s Nazi politics. The decision was reported by Searchlight under the heading “Rambling, incoherent and Nazi to boot”!
A central feature of Nick Griffin’s rebranding of the BNP has been an attempt to publicly dissociate the BNP from its Nazi-sympathising past. This has been seriously undermined by the discovery that veteran far-right activist Tess Culnane is working in Barnbrook’s office. Culnane was forced out of the BNP for several years because of her insistence on speaking at meetings of the British People’s Party, which advertises busts of Hitler on its website at £15 a pop.
As for Barnbrook, it would appear that Griffin has finally lost patience with him, and he may well step down from the Assembly next month, to be replaced by Bob Bailey, currently BNP leader on Barking and Dagenham Council. Unlike Barnbrook, Bailey does possess the ability to string two meaningful sentences together. But he suffers from a severe anger management problem and an inclination to shoot his mouth off – for example in his recent disgusting outburst against Nigerian churches at a council planning committee meeting.
Some people argue that it is a mistake to give publicity to the BNP, but in my opinion the more widely the party’s role on the London Assembly and borough councils is publicised the better. Now we have to make sure that we throw the BNP out of their local government base in Barking and Dagenham on the 6th of May by showing voters what you really get when they attain public office.
Published in Tribune on the 2nd of April, 2010.