Published on Sunday, 14 October 2012 23:59 Written by Sonia Gable
The British National Party has decided not to contest the elections for police and crime commissioners on 15 November. That’s not surprising as the party would have nothing to gain in these unwanted elections that most voters will ignore.
Unusually the BNP, in a website article on 29 September and follow-up email on 12 October, asked its members for their views before announcing its decision this afternoon, although the party revealed that its national executive had already come to a majority decision to abstain from the poll. The uniformity in decision is convenient of course: what would have happened if members had not gone along with the executive is not known.
The main reason for the BNP’s decision was the absence of free delivery of election leaflets. The party admitted it would have no hope of raising enough money to post leaflets nor the personnel to deliver them by hand. This practical difficulty, insurmountable for any small party, is one that Kevin Carroll, standing in Bedfordshire for the British Freedom Party, has largely ignored. The English Democrats, who are contesting at least four counties, are aware of the problem but have not been put off by it.
With free delivery, the £5,000 deposit per county would be “great value” the BNP says, “as it would have bought us some £25,000-worth of postage”. Without free delivery, the BNP estimates it would cost “at least £55,000 in deposit, printing and postage to fight each seat”.
Another significant consideration for the BNP is that “anyone with any kind of criminal record, however old or minor” is banned from standing. The BNP exaggerates here: only convictions for imprisonable offences disqualify a candidate. Nevertheless, the party admitted this excludes “some of our best people”.
The BNP’s announcement goes on to explain that what the party really needs to build its capacity for “future winnable elections” is to “invest in assets we need to raise our campaigning profile even higher and keep ourselves in the public eye”. What this means is “regional demo equipment”: “crisp new national flags on smart poles”, placards, “banners ready with slogans for all our most important campaigns” and stocks of “a standard leaflet on each key subject”.
This comes just a day after an email from Britain First, the tiny splinter from the BNP, which appealed for supporters to help raise £3,000 to pay for banners, placards, marshals’ jackets, communication equipment and literature ready for demonstrations. Small minds think alike.
Britain First announced on 18 September that it had evolved from a campaign group to a “fully fledged political party”. A demonstration against “Muslim sexual grooming” (what else?) called by Britain First on 6 October was largely hijacked by the BNP, though there were still only a handful of supporters present. Expect both to try to exploit Remembrance Sunday, in competition with the National Front, which has held its own march on that day since the 1970s.
Britain First’s begging email was written in the style used by Jim Dowson when he appealed for much larger sums for the BNP until he fell out with Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, in autumn 2010. Dowson remains Britain First’s administration manager: rumours that he is working for the English Democrats Party appear unfounded, although he may well have sold them an old BNP mailing list.
For more on the police commissioner elections, Britain First and other political developments, read the October issue of Searchlight.