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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Theresa May's U-Turn may have just traded one problem for another

The problems of the policy have been moved, not eradicated. 

That didn’t take long. Theresa May has U-Turned on her plan to make people personally liable for the costs of social care until they have just £100,000 worth of assets, including property, left.

As the average home is valued at £317,000, in practice, that meant that most property owners would have to remortgage their house in order to pay for the cost of their social care. That upwards of 75 per cent of baby boomers – the largest group in the UK, both in terms of raw numbers and their higher tendency to vote – own their homes made the proposal politically toxic.

(The political pain is more acute when you remember that, on the whole, the properties owned by the elderly are worth more than those owned by the young. Why? Because most first-time buyers purchase small flats and most retirees are in large family homes.)

The proposal would have meant that while people who in old age fall foul of long-term degenerative illnesses like Alzheimers would in practice face an inheritance tax threshold of £100,000, people who die suddenly would face one of £1m, ten times higher than that paid by those requiring longer-term care. Small wonder the proposal was swiftly dubbed a “dementia tax”.

The Conservatives are now proposing “an absolute limit on the amount people have to pay for their care costs”. The actual amount is TBD, and will be the subject of a consultation should the Tories win the election. May went further, laying out the following guarantees:

“We are proposing the right funding model for social care.  We will make sure nobody has to sell their family home to pay for care.  We will make sure there’s an absolute limit on what people need to pay. And you will never have to go below £100,000 of your savings, so you will always have something to pass on to your family.”

There are a couple of problems here. The proposed policy already had a cap of sorts –on the amount you were allowed to have left over from meeting your own care costs, ie, under £100,000. Although the system – effectively an inheritance tax by lottery – displeased practically everyone and spooked elderly voters, it was at least progressive, in that the lottery was paid by people with assets above £100,000.

Under the new proposal, the lottery remains in place – if you die quickly or don’t require expensive social care, you get to keep all your assets, large or small – but the losers are the poorest pensioners. (Put simply, if there is a cap on costs at £25,000, then people with assets below that in value will see them swallowed up, but people with assets above that value will have them protected.)  That is compounded still further if home-owners are allowed to retain their homes.

So it’s still a dementia tax – it’s just a regressive dementia tax.

It also means that the Conservatives have traded going into the election’s final weeks facing accusations that they will force people to sell their own homes for going into the election facing questions over what a “reasonable” cap on care costs is, and you don’t have to be very imaginative to see how that could cause them trouble.

They’ve U-Turned alright, but they may simply have swerved away from one collision into another.  

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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