Published on Thursday, 09 February 2012 00:11 Written by Sonia Gable
Another two former British National Party activists have thrown in their lot with the English Democrats in a move that will boost the tiny party’s organisation in the capital in the run-up to the elections for the London Assembly and mayor in May.
Michael Barnbrook stood several times as a BNP council election candidate in southeast London, once coming just nine votes short of winning a seat. Until he supported Eddy Butler’s failed challenge to Nick Griffin’s leadership of the party, he was known in the party as the BNP “sleazebuster”. This was, he claimed in a statement on Butler’s blog in July 2010, “because I am the individual responsible for starting the Parliamentary Expenses Scandal”, adding, “I have been personally responsible for ending the careers of several Members of Parliament”.
That no one outside the BNP knows this is not, as he claims, because the facts “are never reported because of the amount of votes it would bring the British National Party”, but because no one was fooled by his grandiose claims.
Barnbrook has now followed Butler into the EDs, as has Johnny Leech, a BNP organiser in Greenwich. Butler also claims success for the EDs in Salford for collecting 8,500 signatures on a petition last summer for a referendum on whether Salford should have a directly elected mayor. The referendum held on 26 January 2012 resulted in a yes vote, and the EDs are now looking to repeat their victory in Doncaster when the mayoral election is held in May.
Nevertheless two swallows do not a summer make. The EDs remain insignificant, though not “still born”, as Griffin described all the BNP’s rival far-right parties in his speech at the BNP organisers’ conference on 4 February.
Griffin also echoed the claim by party treasurer Clive Jefferson that the BNP had put its financial troubles behind it. Speaking at the same conference, Jefferson admitted that the 2010 figures were “frankly dire” but claimed that the 2011 accounts would “show very clearly that the financial difficulties and accounting difficulties of 2009 and 2010 have been put behind us”.
Griffin was more specific. The 2010 accounts, which will reach the Electoral Commission later this month, would show that the party owed £850,000, a considerably higher sum than officially admitted in the past. Yet in a claim that should stretch the imagination of even his most gullible supporters – but probably won’t – Griffin said: “we’re out of that”, it has been “sorted out on my watch … we are going to make progress”.
In reality, Griffin and Jefferson have to say that. They cannot withhold the 2010 accounts for ever – they are already over seven months later, which is likely to result in fines of over £1,000, and once they are published, the huge hole in the party’s finances will be all too obvious. But anyone who can add two and two together and make four will realise that a party that in 2009, its best year ever for fundraising, had income of under £2 million and a similar amount of expenditure cannot possibly have paid off liabilities of £850,000 as well as maintain its day-to-day running costs and run the occasional campaign. Remember too that Jefferson was claiming last July already that the party only owed £52,000 to its creditors.
Jefferson promised that the BNP’s 2011 accounts would be submitted early. I for one won’t hold my breath.