Nick Griffin under investigation by police - but back on Twitter

BNP leader's account reactivated after he was suspended for posting the address of B&B case gay couple online.

With the BNP beset by splits and financial problems, Nick Griffin's decision to publish the address of a gay couple who won a court case against a Christian B&B owner (before encouraging his supporters to demonstrate outside their home) was a transparent attempt to distract from his party's woes. He tweeted:

A British Justice team will come up to [their Huntington address] & give you [the couple, Michael Black and John Morgan] a … bit of drama by way of reminding you that an English couple's home is their castle. Say No to heterophobia!

An earlier message read:

If anyone can give us address of the 2 bullying 'gay' activists who've won case v Christian B&B owners, we'll hold demo … for rights of all home owners, gays included, to rent or not rent rooms to whomsoever they wish

Unsurprisingly, Griffin is now under investigation by Cambridgeshire police, who said they were "looking into" the complaints they had received. A spokeswoman added that "officers will also visit the men mentioned in the tweets as part of our inquiries."

Griffin's Twitter account was suspended after he posted the couple's address but was reactivated this morning, albeit without the offending tweet.

Incidentally, one wonders if we will hear from our new Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, who has previously defended the right of B&B owners to turn away gay couples. In April 2010, he was revealed to have told a Centre For Policy Studies meeting:

I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences. I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it's a question of somebody who's doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home.

In response to yesterday's ruling, Michael Black and John Morgan said:

We're doing this to try and make sure that all B&B owners realise what the law is and think twice before discriminating against gay people, black people, Christians, Muslims, Irish, any other group.

Hear, hear.

British National Party leader Nick Griffin was briefly suspended from Twitter after posting the address of a gay couple who won a court case against a Christian bed and breakfast owner. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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If the cuts are necessary, where's Philip Hammond's deficit target gone?

The Chancellor ripped up his predecessor's plans and has no plan to replace them. What's going on?

Remember austerity?

I’m not talking about the cuts to public services, which are very much still ongoing. I’m talking about the economic argument advanced by the Conservatives from the financial crisis in 2007-8 up until the European referendum: that unlesss the British government got hold of its public finances and paid down its debt, the United Kingdom would be thrown into crisis as its creditors would get nervous.

That was the rationale for a programme of cuts well in excess of anything their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, campaigned on in the run-up to the 201 election. It was the justification for cuts to everything from English language lessons to library hours. It was the stick used to beat Labour in the 2015 election. Now it justifies cuts to payments to families that lose a parent, to mental health services and much else besides.

Which is odd, because there’s something missing from this election campaign: any timetable from the Tories about when, exactly, they intend to pay all that money back. Neither the government’s day-to-day expenditure nor its existing debt can meaningfully be said to be any closer to being brought into balance than they were in 2010.

To make matters worse, Philip Hammond has scrapped George Osborne’s timetable and plan to secure both a current account surplus and to start paying off Britain’s debts. He has said he will bring forward his own targets, but thus far, none have been forthcoming.

Which is odd, because if the nervousness of Britain’s creditors is really something to worry about, their causes for worry have surely increased since 2015, not decreased. Since then, the country has gone from a byword for political stability to shocking the world with its vote to leave the European Union. The value of its currency has plummetted. Its main opposition party is led by a man who, according to the government at least, is a dangerous leftist, and, more to the point, a dangerous leftist that the government insists is on the brink of taking power thanks to the SNP. Surely the need for a clear timetable from the only party offering “strong and stable” government is greater than ever?

And yet: the government has no serious plan to close the deficit and seems more likely to add further spending commitments, in the shape of new grammar schools, and the possible continuation of the triple lock on pensions.  There seems to be no great clamour for Philip Hammond to lay out his plans to get the deficit under control.

What gives?

Could it all, possibly, have been a con to advance the cause of shrinking the state?

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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