Neo-Nazi former BNP members launch new far-right party

They hope the new British Democratic Party will kill off the BNP, while security for the launch meeting will be provided by EDL activists.

Andrew Brons, a former Chair of the National Front and until recently one of the British National Party’s MEPs, will launch a new far-right party this weekend – one he and his supporters hope will finally kill off the BNP.

The British Democratic Party (BDP) launches tomorrow in a village hall in Leicestershire, as the hardline alternative for disillusioned BNP members and supporters.

Security for the meeting is being provided by EDL activists, bussed into the area from as far as Newcastle, to provide protection from the possibility of attack – not from antifascists, but from the rival BNP who are meeting in nearby Leicester.

Ageing Brons, who is 66 this year, has positioned himself as the new party’s ideological mentor and president.

The interim chairman of the new party is former BNP organiser Kevin Scott from Newcastle. Scott has maintained a steady line of attack for nearly two years against what he and Brons’ supporters allege is the ongoing corruption and watering down of the BNP.

The new party comes eighteen months after Brons failed to unseat BNP leader and fellow MEP, Nick Griffin, in a bitter leadership election for control of the ailing party. Since the party’s disastrous showing in the 2010 General and Local elections, hundreds of disillusioned BNP members have made their way to smaller parties like the English Democrats. Thousands of others just quit the far-right altogether. Brons however, waited patiently, believing the perilous financial state of the party would eventually account for Nick Griffin.

Brons finally resigned from the BNP in October of last year, claiming that he had been “constructively expelled” by what he considered to be merely the “rump” of what was left of the BNP. Griffin loyalists had already launched a series of claims for unfair dismissal and religious and sexual discrimination against Brons’s European office in anticipation of his departure.

In over fifty years of far-right activity, Brons has maintained an impressive collection of hardline “admirers”. A speaking tour last year drew audiences from such groups as the National Front, British Movement and Combat 18. Many of those attendees were former BNP members who either left or were driven from the BNP during its drastic modernisation in the 2000’s. Brons did not join the BNP himself until 2005. He and Griffin had previously shared a passionate hatred of each other during their time together in the NF during the 1980’s.

Brons began his political career way back in the 1960s when he joined the openly Nazi National Socialist Movement, before going on to become Chairman of the National Front in 1980. Under Brons’s tutelage, the BDP is expected to re-focus efforts on promoting scientific racism, calling for the compulsory repatriation of non-whites and push heavily the notion that the Holocaust is a hoax – core policies that Nick Griffin tried to either disguise or extinguish entirely after taking over the BNP in 1999.

Others backing Brons include London-based Barrister Adrian Davies who registered the party and is a long-term opponent of Griffin. As well as registering the party and writing its constitution, Davies most recently defended (unsuccessfully) a businessman from Northern Ireland convicted and jailed for sending death threats to Griffin and his family.

John Bean, a former Mosleyite who previously edited the BNP’s monthly periodical and was often and openly lauded by Nick Griffin, has also now thrown his weight in with Brons, as has Dr James Lewthwaite, who split from the BNP to form his own, Bradford-based, National Democratic Party in 2010. Andrew Moffat who works for Brons in Brussels, and has previously worked closely with Holocaust Denier David Irving, will be the party’s Deputy Chairman.

Despite claiming it will be a democratic party, the new party has no plans to hold elections for posts. All positions in the party were decided weeks ago.

Nick Lowles of the antifascist campaign group Hope not Hate says the new party will be a serious challenge to Nick Griffin’s BNP. “The BDP brings together all of the hardcore Holocaust deniers and racists that have walked away from the BNP over the last two to three years, plus those previously, who could not stomach the party’s image changes.

“They and the BNP already have a mutual hatred of each other and neither party will stop until they’ve killed the other one off. The gloves will be off and it will be toxic”.

UPDATE 9 February 2013 14:30:

Shortly after nine o'clock this morning members of the British Democratic Party (BDP) arrived at  a small village hall in Leicestershire and began setting up for the party's launch meeting.

Six miles away, in the car park of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, neo-Nazis and far-right activists from across the UK were arriving to be redirected to the secret venue.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the meeting, members of the Hope Not Hate research team were able to infiltrate the redirection point and photograph a number of well known far-right activists, many of them disgruntled former BNP members.

Among those providing security for the redirection point was Gary Pudsey from Bridlington, in Yorkshire. A former BNP and C18 activist, Pudsey is one of a number of "former" extremists who made their way into the English Democrats when the BNP began imploding in 2010.

The village hall had about sixty far-right activists inside listening to a serious of speeches from people like Andrew Brons MEP and Kevin Scott on why they have quit the BNP. According to Lowles, there is great anger that the details of the meeting have been leaked by Hope Not Hate researchers. "A number of EDL activists [who were there to provide security for the meeting] are currently prowling the inside of the hall to look for hidden cameras, such is their paranoia.

"They're not happy, obviously. But I think people have a right to know that these groups of people are lying and cheating their way onto public property to cultivate their message of hate. There should be no hiding place for hatred."

Matthew Collins is a researcher for Hope Not Hate and author of "Hate: My Life in the British Far Right" (Biteback Books) #

Editor's note: comments on this article are closed. If you want to discuss it, please do so on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

Hope Not Hate understand that after this article was published, Andrew Moffat refused to be confirmed as the BDP's deputy chair. Moffat also disputes the fact that he held the position of political secretary to David Irving. The article has been updated to reflect the fact that he may never have been formally employed by Irving, but has worked closely with him in the past.

Andrew Brons with Nick Griffin in 2009. Photograph: Getty Images

Matthew Collins is a researcher for Hope Not Hate and author of Hate: My Life in the British Far Right (Biteback Books).

Garry Knight via Creative Commons
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Why Barack Obama was right to release Chelsea Manning

A Presidential act of mercy is good for Manning, but also for the US.

In early 2010, a young US military intelligence analyst on an army base near Baghdad slipped a Lady Gaga CD into a computer and sang along to the music. In fact, the soldier's apparently upbeat mood hid two facts. 

First, the soldier later known as Chelsea Manning was completely alienated from army culture, and the callous way she believed it treated civilians in Iraq. And second, she was quietly erasing the music on her CDs and replacing it with files holding explosive military data, which she would release to the world via Wikileaks. 

To some, Manning is a free speech hero. To others, she is a traitor. President Barack Obama’s decision to commute her 35-year sentence before leaving office has been blasted as “outrageous” by leading Republican Paul Ryan. Other Republican critics argue Obama is rewarding an act that endangered the lives of soldiers and intelligence operatives while giving ammunition to Russia. 

They have a point. Liberals banging the drum against Russia’s leak offensive during the US election cannot simultaneously argue leaks are inherently good. 

But even if you think Manning was deeply misguided in her use of Lady Gaga CDs, there are strong reasons why we should celebrate her release. 

1. She was not judged on the public interest

Manning was motivated by what she believed to be human rights abuses in Iraq, but her public interest defence has never been tested. 

The leaks were undoubtedly of public interest. As Manning said in the podcast she recorded with Amnesty International: “When we made mistakes, planning operations, innocent people died.” 

Thanks to Manning’s leak, we also know about the Vatican hiding sex abuse scandals in Ireland, plus the UK promising to protect US interests during the Chilcot Inquiry. 

In countries such as Germany, Canada and Denmark, whistle blowers in sensitive areas can use a public interest defence. In the US, however, such a defence does not exist – meaning it is impossible for Manning to legally argue her actions were in the public good. 

2. She was deemed worse than rapists and murderers

Her sentence was out of proportion to her crime. Compare her 35-year sentence to that received by William Millay, a young police officer, also in 2013. Caught in the act of trying to sell classified documents to someone he believed was a Russian intelligence officer, he was given 16 years

According to Amnesty International: “Manning’s sentence was much longer than other members of the military convicted of charges such as murder, rape and war crimes, as well as any others who were convicted of leaking classified materials to the public.”

3. Her time in jail was particularly miserable 

Manning’s conditions in jail do nothing to dispel the idea she has been treated extraordinarily harshly. When initially placed in solitary confinement, she needed permission to do anything in her cell, even walking around to exercise. 

When she requested treatment for her gender dysphoria, the military prison’s initial response was a blanket refusal – despite the fact many civilian prisons accept the idea that trans inmates are entitled to hormones. Manning has attempted suicide several times. She finally received permission to receive gender transition surgery in 2016 after a hunger strike

4. Julian Assange can stop acting like a martyr

Internationally, Manning’s continued incarceration was likely to do more harm than good. She has said she is sorry “for hurting the US”. Her worldwide following has turned her into an icon of US hypocrisy on free speech.

Then there's the fact Wikileaks said its founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the US if Manning was released. Now that Manning is months away from freedom, his excuses for staying in the Equadorian London Embassy to avoid Swedish rape allegations are somewhat feebler.  

As for the President - under whose watch Manning was prosecuted - he may be leaving his office with his legacy in peril, but with one stroke of his pen, he has changed a life. Manning, now 29, could have expected to leave prison in her late 50s. Instead, she'll be free before her 30th birthday. And perhaps the Equadorian ambassador will finally get his room back. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.