Published on Thursday, 31 January 2013 09:35 Written by Sonia Gable
A party that hopes to bring together “nationalists” who have deserted the British National Party in recent years will have its national launch meeting on Saturday 9 February. It follows four months of intensive planning after Andrew Brons MEP was persuaded that the time was finally right for a new party.
Brons was elected to the European Parliament as a BNP MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, but soon fell out with Nick Griffin, the BNP leader and MEP for the North West. Brons was only narrowly defeated when he challenged Griffin for the party leadership in July 2011, but remained in the BNP, insisting that there was not yet enough momentum for a new party. It was only on 30 September 2012 at a private meeting of activists that a game plan for a new party was finally drawn up, and Brons’s resignation from the BNP followed on 16 October.
Since then the steering committee for the new organisation, the British Democratic Party, has held regional meetings to build support for the launch, though its website remains “under construction”. Brons, reluctant at his age to take on the chairmanship as well as his MEP duties, will be its president, with Kevin Scott as chairman, Adrian Davies as treasurer and Ken Booth as national nominating officer.
All have long track records on the far right. Scott, who has a first-class politics and history degree, joined the BNP in 1983 and was its North East organiser for a period, as was Booth. Davies is a barrister who previously helped form a rival party, which failed. It was Davies who registered the British Democratic Party with the Electoral Commission in May 2011.
Others involved include Andrew Moffat, one-time political secretary for the Holocaust revisionist writer David Irving, who stood as a UK Independence Party candidate in the 2005 general election, Sam Swerling, a former Tory councillor currently active in the Traditional Britain Group, Chris Roberts, a former BNP London organiser, and many more.
The announcement of the national launch appeared on a website that Brons registered in March 2012 to take over from his bnpideas website on which he tried to establish a rival powerbase in the BNP to Griffin. In an attempt to contrast itself with the BNP, it claimed that the BDP would be “a party with a difference … built from the bottom upwards, contesting carefully-selected council seats, rather than by making grand gestures of fighting council or Westminster elections in uncharted territory. Westminster seats will be contested only with established candidates with a proven personal following.”
It will be “thoroughly democratic”, the announcement added, the initial party appointments being only temporary pending elections “in the near future”. Its constitutional principles will be to protect “the distinctive identity of the British Nation”, the “independence and territorial integrity” of the UK and “the economic and social interests of the British people”. Nothing new there then for a party on the far right.
A further policy statement opposes the EU, urges a ban on corporate and trade union donations to political parties (well the BDP won’t get any so no one should), calls for strong deterrent sentences for offenders and a referendum on capital punishment, “economic nationalism”, an end to all immigration (naturally), and the enhancement of Britain’s “ancient ethno-cultural identities … [and] traditional folk cultures”. Immigrants would be given incentives to return to their countries of origin. The rest is even less exciting.
The BDP is working hard to attract those who have left the BNP – which it puts at 85-90% of that party’s members: an exaggeration – and are languishing in such groups as the hardline National Front, the Islamophobic near-dead British Freedom Party, Britain First, the English Democrats and others, or are in “the political wilderness”. It is pitching itself to a broader nationalist audience and its organisers mostly have creditable records, in far-right terms, so it starts off better placed to make an impact than any of these.
However the odds are stacked against it. It took the BNP around 20 years from its formation to achieve electoral success (ignoring one isolated councillor elected in 1993), and many of those involved in the new party are impatient for early success and will be unwilling to put in the sustained long-term effort needed, especially those who have already done that once in the BNP. Above all, the UK Independence Party, with its anti-immigration and anti-Europe platform not tinged by the Nazi associations of some of those involved with the BDP, appeals far more successfully to the same voters.
The new party was not at first going to be the BDP. On 20 October at a conference of the Traditional Britain Group, Scott had distributed a leaflet under the name “True Brits”, vaguely calling for people to “do something about” the “nation destroying changes” that have occurred in Britain. Brons had lined up Peter Phillips as leader of the new party. A long-time BNP activist and architect, Phillips had registered True Brits as a party back in November 2011. However he walked off at the last minute, taking the party with him, upset at the sniping over the fact that he is openly gay. What did he expect? As a result a planned national launch for the beginning of November was postponed. It is not the case, as one misinformed report had it, that the BDP fell to pieces after being launched under the name True Brits in November. There was no launch and the BDP and True Brits are two different parties, the latter likely to remain dormant.