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14 April 2010

The British National Party and the Holocaust

The far-right party admits that it is a tricky subject for candidates.

By Daniel Trilling

The British National Party, whose leader, Nick Griffin, is standing for parliament in Barking, has made great efforts to present itself as a legitimate political organisation. But what other party would give media training to its election candidates on how to avoid questions about the Holocaust?

Alby Walker, a former BNP councillor in Stoke-on-Trent who is now sitting as an independent, has told the New Statesman that he received the training before last year’s elections for the European Parliament. “We were given advice on answers and the kind of questions you’d be asked. BNP candidates had previously been tripped up by questions about the Holocaust.”

The training consisted of practice interviews with a panel of three party officials, Walker said. “For example, they would tell us to say there wasn’t just one Holocaust but that there were left-wing ones, too. Or [to say]: ‘Yes, it was a terrible thing that happened, but it’s not relevant to the modern day.’ “

When asked by the New Statesman about Walker’s claims, the BNP leader Nick Griffin initially dismissed them as “lies” and said: “We have media training on a whole range of subjects.” But, asked if that training specifically covered the Holocaust, he admitted: “That subject does come up, yes.”

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Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “The Holocaust is a historical fact, and if it has any relevance to the current election, it is as a stark reminder of where bigotry and intolerance can lead. Perhaps that explains the discomfort some politicians feel in talking about it.”

You can read a full report on the BNP’s election campaign in Barking in tomorrow’s New Statesman.