No unity so far for anti-Griffin right

AFTER ALL THE HYPE AND PROMISES, the annual booze-up in memory of one of Britain’s most infamous postwar, jackbooted nazi leaders was a distinct disappointment. John Tyndall, who died in July 2005, founded the British National Party and led it until Nick Griffin became chairman in 1999.

Even the fact that the event was an opportunity for all those who had fallen out with Griffin, or have realised what a fraudster he is, to get together failed to boost attendance.

The upstairs room at the 55th Division Ex-Service club in Preston was a pretty seedy joint. The club is thought to have Ulster loyalist links but with a politically indifferent clientele. Even when news spread among the drinkers in the downstairs bar that the bunch of mugs upstairs who kept nipping down to top up their glasses were “National Front”, they paid little or no attention.

The audience of under 70 was overwhelmingly male, with probably fewer than half a dozen women, plus two small children who must have been very bored. Among the women was Linda Miller, not to be confused with the East End BNP and failed Ku Klux Klan leader of the same name. The Linda Miller who went to Preston attends and speaks at New Right meetings in London.

The meeting opened with a minute’s silence to remember dead comrades: not only Tyndall but his long-suffering fellow nazi wife Valerie, who died in June this year, and Dave Hannam, the former BNP treasurer, who died at the beginning of October aged 30.

In the weeks leading up to the meeting there had been speculation that this would be where Andrew Brons, one of the BNP’s two MEPs – the other being Griffin, would finally announce his departure from the BNP and launch a new party. In the event he failed to show, sending instead a long tribute to Tyndall that Peter Rushton, who chaired the meeting, read out.

Brons recalled that after the National Front (NF), predecessor of the BNP, split in 1980 it took more than 20 years for the nationalist movement in Britain to recover from the consequence, which perhaps explains his own reluctance to leave the BNP now. The split, he pointed out, had been engineered by Griffin and Patrick Harrington, now once again Griffin’s right-hand man.

Brons also highlighted Tyndall’s “honesty”, adding pointedly: “He certainly did not engage in personal abuse and character assassination of the sort that we have seen in the Party in recent months”. Most likely, Brons decided to keep his powder dry until his own conference on 22 October where he intends to launch a “think tank” called BNPIDEAS and have “an open and frank discussion on the position of the party and future strategies”.

Brons had also intimated that he was not happy about spending the evening with a bunch of losers and hardline nazis, despite having stumped up the cash for the printing of the smart event brochure. His reluctance was understandable. Apart from the BNP, groups represented at the meeting included the England First Party, which hosted the event, the extreme nazi British Movement, the National Socialist Movement – Britannia, the NF, the hardline North West Nationalists, the British People’s Party (BPP), the tiny Democratic Nationalists and the A K Chesterton Trust.

Also present was the notorious Benny Bullman who was clearly seen as the representative of the nazi skinhead music set-up Blood and Honour, which has been quietly resuming activities with a recent East Midlands gig that featured half a dozen nazi bands from Europe and ten from the UK.

The first speaker was James Lewthwaite, a former BNP councillor and organiser, who co-founded the Democratic Nationalists in 2008. He spoke on the anatomy of the far right – whether nationalists should appeal to voters’ hearts or their minds. He wanted to move away from the cult of the leader (a dig at Griffin) and thought it did not matter if several nationalist parties existed as long as they did not stand against each other in elections.

He was followed by Dave Jones of the BPP who won applause for his crossparty cooperation with Chris Jackson, the BNP’s former North West regional organiser and now an NF officer. Next came Paul Ballard, who shared a dock with Griffin in 1998 when Griffin was convicted of distributing racially inflammatory material in Ballard’s magazine The Rune. Unlike Griffin, Ballard had pleaded guilty, not best pleasing his future party leader, but turned yellow when Griffin was given a jail sentence, albeit suspended. Ballard used the Preston platform to sing the praises of the antisemitic and Holocaust denying Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson.

Tony Justice was the last-minute substitute for Brons. Until recently Justice, a former Ulster Defence Regiment solder, had been a member of the English Democrats, but claimed he could not remain in the party after discovering its support for Irish Republicanism and Sinn Fein.

After the break came Peter Barker, an ex-squaddie, who told the audience of his political journey from being BNP North West regional press officer, NF and BNP organiser for Rochdale, to founding the North West Nationalists website and blog. Several people present commented that the former licensed gun trader was very volatile which was why he had lost his gun licence.

Then it was the turn of Rushton, who regaled the meeting with a history of British nationalism and called for all leading nationalists to commit themselves to the reunification of the post-Griffin movement. Always too bright for his own good in far-right circles, he was one of the first to be purged from the BNP by Griffin, a distinction he carried with pride. Some of the audience observed over several beers later how much Rushton loves being at the centre of attention.

The keynote speaker was Richard Edmonds, the long time Holocaust denier and former NF national officer, who became Tyndall’s number two after he founded the BNP. For years Edmonds was at loggerheads with Griffin, but was brought onto the BNP’s advisory council in 2010. Edmonds still has a lot of clout in the international nazi movement and had just returned from Spain where he was a guest of the top Spanish nazi Pedro Varella. Although still in the BNP Edmonds recently announced that he had joined the NF.

Some had expected to see Martin Wingfield there but were disappointed. Wingfield, Griffin’s communications and campaigns officer, is currently facing party disciplinary charges.

Simon Sheppard, recently released from prison on licence after being convicted in 2008 of inciting race hatred on the internet, had told his friends that he would attend to lend support to a potential new far-right group, despite the terms of his release forbidding him from attending any extreme-right functions. When it came to putting his presence where his mouth is, he copped out.

Michael “Wigan Mike” Heaton, jailed for inciting racial hatred on the Aryan Strike Force website, likewise did not turn up, also probably frightened of being returned to prison for breaking the conditions of his licence by associating with nazis.

The evening was closed by Mark Cotterill, the EFP leader and editor of its publication Heritage and Destiny, who thanked two serving soldiers just back from Afghanistan for attending. Several groups ran book and merchandise stalls, including the revisionist Historical Review Press, Heritage and Destiny, and Candour, published by the A K Chesterton Trust.

The notorious Liverpool BNP convicted thug Peter Tierney won the football scratch card draw and being a bighearted soul pitched his winnings in the hat towards the cost of the meeting.

It was unclear whether activists from the violent nazi Racial Volunteer Force were present, but they were not listed as speakers. Perhaps the organisers thought it would have been a step too far to associate openly with an organisation of which several members were imprisoned for up to four years for inciting racial hatred in 2005.

No firm decisions were made, just nods in the direction of co-operation that might turn out to be empty promises.

The most worrying aspect was the presence of several people from groups dedicated to violence. The star turn of the evening was Tony B, who works on security at Gatwick airport, getting paralytically drunk and keeling over backwards unconscious. The entertainment made up for the bad ambience of the evening and the lack of any musical interlude.

From  Searchlight Magazine . October 2011. Report by Gerry Gable.

Editorial. Small in number the meeting may have been, but it sounds like the greatest gathering of the undead since the Temptation of Saint Anthony. Interesting to see Liverpool’s own Peter Tierney receiving a mention. Nice of him to donate his winnings to the cost of the meeting. But let’s face it, he of all people can afford to do so. Interesting also to see that the out and out Nazi British Movement is back in business after being laughed out of existence all those years ago.

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