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).

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We're racing towards another private debt crisis - so why did no one see it coming?

The Office for Budget Responsibility failed to foresee the rise in household debt. 

This is a call for a public inquiry on the current situation regarding private debt.

For almost a decade now, since 2007, we have been living a lie. And that lie is preparing to wreak havoc on our economy. If we do not create some kind of impartial forum to discuss what is actually happening, the results might well prove disastrous. 

The lie I am referring to is the idea that the financial crisis of 2008, and subsequent “Great Recession,” were caused by profligate government spending and subsequent public debt. The exact opposite is in fact the case. The crash happened because of dangerously high levels of private debt (a mortgage crisis specifically). And - this is the part we are not supposed to talk about—there is an inverse relation between public and private debt levels.

If the public sector reduces its debt, overall private sector debt goes up. That's what happened in the years leading up to 2008. Now austerity is making it happening again. And if we don't do something about it, the results will, inevitably, be another catastrophe.

The winners and losers of debt

These graphs show the relationship between public and private debt. They are both forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, produced in 2015 and 2017. 

This is what the OBR was projecting what would happen around now back in 2015:

This year the OBR completely changed its forecast. This is how it now projects things are likely to turn out:

First, notice how both diagrams are symmetrical. What happens on top (that part of the economy that is in surplus) precisely mirrors what happens in the bottom (that part of the economy that is in deficit). This is called an “accounting identity.”

As in any ledger sheet, credits and debits have to match. The easiest way to understand this is to imagine there are just two actors, government, and the private sector. If the government borrows £100, and spends it, then the government has a debt of £100. But by spending, it has injected £100 more pounds into the private economy. In other words, -£100 for the government, +£100 for everyone else in the diagram. 

Similarly, if the government taxes someone for £100 , then the government is £100 richer but there’s £100 subtracted from the private economy (+£100 for government, -£100 for everybody else on the diagram).

So what implications does this kind of bookkeeping have for the overall economy? It means that if the government goes into surplus, then everyone else has to go into debt.

We tend to think of money as if it is a bunch of poker chips already lying around, but that’s not how it really works. Money has to be created. And money is created when banks make loans. Either the government borrows money and injects it into the economy, or private citizens borrow money from banks. Those banks don’t take the money from people’s savings or anywhere else, they just make it up. Anyone can write an IOU. But only banks are allowed to issue IOUs that the government will accept in payment for taxes. (In other words, there actually is a magic money tree. But only banks are allowed to use it.)

There are other factors. The UK has a huge trade deficit (blue), and that means the government (yellow) also has to run a deficit (print money, or more accurately, get banks to do it) to inject into the economy to pay for all those Chinese trainers, American iPads, and German cars. The total amount of money can also fluctuate. But the real point here is, the less the government is in debt, the more everyone else must be. Austerity measures will necessarily lead to rising levels of private debt. And this is exactly what has happened.

Now, if this seems to have very little to do with the way politicians talk about such matters, there's a simple reason: most politicians don’t actually know any of this. A recent survey showed 90 per cent of MPs don't even understand where money comes from (they think it's issued by the Royal Mint). In reality, debt is money. If no one owed anyone anything at all there would be no money and the economy would grind to a halt.

But of course debt has to be owed to someone. These charts show who owes what to whom.

The crisis in private debt

Bearing all this in mind, let's look at those diagrams again - keeping our eye particularly on the dark blue that represents household debt. In the first, 2015 version, the OBR duly noted that there was a substantial build-up of household debt in the years leading up to the crash of 2008. This is significant because it was the first time in British history that total household debts were higher than total household savings, and therefore the household sector itself was in deficit territory. (Corporations, at the same time, were raking in enormous profits.) But it also predicted this wouldn't happen again.

True, the OBR observed, austerity and the reduction of government deficits meant private debt levels would have to go up. However, the OBR economists insisted this wouldn't be a problem because the burden would fall not on households but on corporations. Business-friendly Tory policies would, they insisted, inspire a boom in corporate expansion, which would mean frenzied corporate borrowing (that huge red bulge below the line in the first diagram, which was supposed to eventually replace government deficits entirely). Ordinary households would have little or nothing to worry about.

This was total fantasy. No such frenzied boom took place.

In the second diagram, two years later, the OBR is forced to acknowledge this. Corporations are just raking in the profits and sitting on them. The household sector, on the other hand, is a rolling catastrophe. Austerity has meant falling wages, less government spending on social services (or anything else), and higher de facto taxes. This puts the squeeze on household budgets and people are forced to borrow. As a result, not only are households in overall deficit for the second time in British history, the situation is actually worse than it was in the years leading up to 2008.

And remember: it was a mortgage crisis that set off the 2008 crash, which almost destroyed the world economy and plunged millions into penury. Not a crisis in public debt. A crisis in private debt.

An inquiry

In 2015, around the time the original OBR predictions came out, I wrote an essay in the Guardian predicting that austerity and budget-balancing would create a disastrous crisis in private debt. Now it's so clearly, unmistakably, happening that even the OBR cannot deny it.

I believe the time has come for there be a public investigation - a formal public inquiry, in fact - into how this could be allowed to happen. After the 2008 crash, at least the economists in Treasury and the Bank of England could plausibly claim they hadn't completely understood the relation between private debt and financial instability. Now they simply have no excuse.

What on earth is an institution called the “Office for Budget Responsibility” credulously imagining corporate borrowing binges in order to suggest the government will balance the budget to no ill effects? How responsible is that? Even the second chart is extremely odd. Up to 2017, the top and bottom of the diagram are exact mirrors of one another, as they ought to be. However, in the projected future after 2017, the section below the line is much smaller than the section above, apparently seriously understating the amount both of future government, and future private, debt. In other words, the numbers don't add up.

The OBR told the New Statesman ​that it was not aware of any errors in its 2015 forecast for corporate sector net lending, and that the forecast was based on the available data. It said the forecast for business investment has been revised down because of the uncertainty created by Brexit. 

Still, if the “Office of Budget Responsibility” was true to its name, it should be sounding off the alarm bells right about now. So far all we've got is one mention of private debt and a mild warning about the rise of personal debt from the Bank of England, which did not however connect the problem to austerity, and one fairly strong statement from a maverick columnist in the Daily Mail. Otherwise, silence. 

The only plausible explanation is that institutions like the Treasury, OBR, and to a degree as well the Bank of England can't, by definition, warn against the dangers of austerity, however alarming the situation, because they have been set up the way they have in order to justify austerity. It's important to emphasise that most professional economists have never supported Conservative policies in this regard. The policy was adopted because it was convenient to politicians; institutions were set up in order to support it; economists were hired in order to come up with arguments for austerity, rather than to judge whether it would be a good idea. At present, this situation has led us to the brink of disaster.

The last time there was a financial crash, the Queen famously asked: why was no one able to foresee this? We now have the tools. Perhaps the most important task for a public inquiry will be to finally ask: what is the real purpose of the institutions that are supposed to foresee such matters, to what degree have they been politicised, and what would it take to turn them back into institutions that can at least inform us if we're staring into the lights of an oncoming train?