Published on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 14:31 Written by Sonia Gable
Less than a week after it emerged that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the street leader of the English Defence League, was to become the deputy leader of the British Freedom Party, other BFP members are walking out. This was predictable as there was never any chance that the various dissident former British National Party members who had gathered around Andrew Brons MEP would find common ground with Lennon’s EDL thugs, or even manage to sit in the same room with them without an ample supply of nose pegs.
Last year Brons, who since he failed to oust Griffin as BNP leader in summer 2011 has rebuffed calls to form a new party claiming the time was not right, supported the formation of an umbrella group called the Brent Group. Its stated aim was “to provide a centre for fellow patriots who have left the old party, disgusted by the incompetence and mismanagement of its leaders”.
In late January 2012 some in the Brent Group finally got impatient with Brons. They had attended Brons’s Ideas group conference on 22 October 2011 in the hope that a new party would be launched there, but in contrast to Brons, they now considered that the opportunity to launch a new party successfully had been lost because members had drifted off. Instead, the Group’s chairman Roger Bennett announced his support for the BFP, a breakaway from the BNP in autumn 2010.
In the event only a few Brent Group supporters moved over to the BFP. The majority refused, saying the BFP was “not nationalist” and was merely trying to be another version of the UK Independence Party, a view obviously confirmed by the fact that the BFP’s leader Paul Weston is a former UKIP election candidate.
The move to link up with the EDL arose out of desperation. The BFP, originally formed by supporters of Eddy Butler’s failed BNP leadership bid in 2010, was going nowhere and had already suffered one split. Although some antifascists have suggested the BFP was on the verge of taking over as the main far-right threat, it has only been able to muster six candidates in Thursday’s local elections, five in Liverpool and one lone activist in Basildon.
But it didn’t take long for Bennett to see the error of his ways. Announcing his resignation from the BFP on the South West Nationalists blog on 30 April, he explained that he had recommended Brent Group members join the BFP “in all good faith based upon information I had been given”, but now had to admit that those who did not join were right. Offering his “sincere apologises” [sic] to them, he continued: “The bottom line regarding British Freedom is, that there are some good Nationalists as members, but the party itself has moved away from it’s [sic] original concept”.
He also revealed that another Brent Group member, the BFP organiser for Swale, had resigned last week and added that he had received “a number of emails informing me of new developments in British Nationalism”, though didn’t say what they were.
As well as his complaint that the BFP was becoming a UKIP lookalike, Bennett had strong words about the link-up with Lennon, which would result in the EDL controlling the BFP. “You will not be able to stop them,” he wrote, “Their numbers will control the party. You will have given the party away.” He also complained about receiving regular emails from the EDL asking for donations, despite never giving his email address to the EDL. “This means that the party has given details of our members to the EDL” without their permission, a “breach of confidentiality which may prove to be illegal”. We suggest he complain to the Information Commissioner about this apparent breach of data protection legislation.
Bennett’s full resignation letter is illuminating and we reproduce it here.
This letter is to inform you of my resignation from the British Freedom Party (BFP) and the offices I hold, with immediate effect.
I have written to you several times over the last weeks expressing my alarm at the direction the party was taking and with certain persons now running the party.
You advised I would receive a call from you Wednesday morning, April 25th., to discuss these matters. I had two important appointments for that morning but gave your call priority and rearranged them. In the event no call was received and at the time of writing, the evening of Friday April 27th. No call or apology has been received.
There is no point in my raising the same issues as I have raised with you over the last weeks but I will refer to the main reasons for my resignation.
The party was formed by basically three nationalists, Lee Barnes, Simon Bennett and Peter Mullins. I came into the party around that time and still have the membership number 07.
The party was formed to be the face of moderate, democratic and thinking British Nationalism. I was assured that this vital and basic concept had not changed. In the event I have witnessed the party being guided away from our root belief of nationalism towards what I would describe as a third rate version of UKIP. This is not surprising as the three most senior officers, yourself and Lee Cooper, came from UKIP and in the case of Mr Whale from 25 years of serving the Labour party.
I am still the Chairman of the Brent Group, and will be corresponding with the members.
I took the decision after many consultations with Peter Mullins, to advise all Brent Group members to join the British Freedom Party. Some did but the majority would not, telling me my decision was wrong that the BFP was not nationalist and was trying to be another version of UKIP. In the event their opinion was correct and mine was wrong. I shall apologise to the members for my sincere but wrong advice.
With regard to combining with the English Defence league (EDL), I have advised caution in too close a liaison.
It has now been decided to offer Tommy Robinson, or to give him his real name, Stephen YaxleyLennon, the leader of the EDL, the deputy leadership of the British Freedom Party together with a place on the Executive Council. Mr Robinson will be advising his members to join the BFP. This increase in membership, has blinded most senior officers to the potential of this action. The membership of the BFP, is low with around half the members on free membership. What the party is blind to is that if or when the EDL members join in any numbers, MR Robinson is then deputy leader, the EDL will control the party and vote whoever they wish on and off the executive and vote their own people to the most senior offices in the party. You will not be able to stop them. Their numbers will control the party. You will have given the party away.
The EDL are not nationalists and openly state that. There is no secret in what they are this is published and shown on their website.
I now receive, and have checked that other members are now receiving regular emails from the EDL asking for donations, etc. I have never given details of my personal email address but the EDL have it. This means that the party has given details of our members to the EDL. This is a very serious matter. I did not give my permission for this information to be given to anyone, I was not asked by the party for this permission.
BFP members must demand who is responsible for this breach of confidentiality which may prove to be illegal.
You have this week confirmed in writing that any ex members of the BNP are not allowed to serve on the Executive Council. I find this extraordinary as these members are the very people who worked and guided the BNP to the success of June 2009 when one million people voted nationalist, over one hundred councillors elected, two MEP’s and a member voted on the London Assembly.
These members are not considered fit to be EC members, when ex UKIP, labour party and now EDL members are.
Totally unacceptable to me Paul and I suspect to all British nationalists.
I have been a committed British Nationalist for almost fifty years, committed to the cause of Democratic, moderate British nationalism.
British Nationalism is not the following of political policies, first and foremost it is in the heart, you feel it and follow it. That is why those leading the BFP who have never been nationalists will not understand the reasons for this letter of resignation, will not understand the depth of feeling all nationalists have.
It is a noble cause, the only cause that has a chance of repairing the damage done to our country after
decades of damage by self serving British politicians of all colours, particularly red. This betrayal of the
interests of our country and our people is still taking place only nationalism will save it.
As chairman you are responsible for allowing the party to be guided away from it’s core belief and given away to the EDL. That may have been your plan from the beginning as you have repeatedly said you wish to capture the support of middle England. However, you will never capture the support of middle England with the EDL pulling your strings.
Finally, I confirm that the confidential information you imparted to me in conversations will of course remain confidential and never disclosed by me.
Yours Most Sincerely
Roger C Bennett