The BNP lose their "peer"

Lord Bramall is off the hook

Has the BNP claimed its first parliamentarian? Early stories on the leaked membership list, which can now be seen on WikiLeaks, erroneously reported that a sitting peer was among those included.

Baron Bramall, a former chief of the defence staff, was branded as the guilty man and the fact that he once traded blows with Lord Janner after a series of anti-Israel comments did little to dampen speculation. But with a bit of digging I've found out that the individual in question is in fact the self-styled "Lord" Brian Bramhall of Newbury, a man who has certainly not been elevated to the House of Lords.

Meanwhile, Mary Riddell has an excellent piece in today's Daily Telegraph on the practical policies needed to counter the BNP, a welcome reminder that Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time is unlikely to swing many votes either way.

UPDATE: Lord Bramall has responded: "I'm completely apolitical and I've had no involvement with the BNP," he told the Guardian.

"I'm the last person who would have anything to do with them. I fought fascism in the second world war. People do have views of every sort in a democracy, but many of the BNP's views are very unattractive."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Benn vs McDonnell: how Brexit has exposed the fight over Labour's party machine

In the wake of Brexit, should Labour MPs listen more closely to voters, or their own party members?

Two Labour MPs on primetime TV. Two prominent politicians ruling themselves out of a Labour leadership contest. But that was as far as the similarity went.

Hilary Benn was speaking hours after he resigned - or was sacked - from the Shadow Cabinet. He described Jeremy Corbyn as a "good and decent man" but not a leader.

Framing his overnight removal as a matter of conscience, Benn told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I no longer have confidence in him [Corbyn] and I think the right thing to do would be for him to take that decision."

In Benn's view, diehard leftie pin ups do not go down well in the real world, or on the ballot papers of middle England. 

But while Benn may be drawing on a New Labour truism, this in turn rests on the assumption that voters matter more than the party members when it comes to winning elections.

That assumption was contested moments later by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Dismissive of the personal appeal of Shadow Cabinet ministers - "we can replace them" - McDonnell's message was that Labour under Corbyn had rejuvenated its electoral machine.

Pointing to success in by-elections and the London mayoral election, McDonnell warned would-be rebels: "Who is sovereign in our party? The people who are soverign are the party members. 

"I'm saying respect the party members. And in that way we can hold together and win the next election."

Indeed, nearly a year on from Corbyn's surprise election to the Labour leadership, it is worth remembering he captured nearly 60% of the 400,000 votes cast. Momentum, the grassroots organisation formed in the wake of his success, now has more than 50 branches around the country.

Come the next election, it will be these grassroots members who will knock on doors, hand out leaflets and perhaps even threaten to deselect MPs.

The question for wavering Labour MPs will be whether what they trust more - their own connection with voters, or this potentially unbiddable party machine.