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2 May 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:21am

Why is the postman trying to force BNP leaflets on me?

Hateful literature thrust upon me in my own doorway.

By Sholto Byrnes

I was sifting through the post with the front door to my shared house open on Friday afternoon when a man appeared and attempted to thrust a bunch of garishly coloured leaflets on me.

“What are they for?” I asked, for although I was crouching next to the recycling box, I saw no need to load it down with yet more pizza delivery adverts when I could merely say we didn’t want them.

“The BNP,” said the man, whom I then realised was in fact the postman. “We don’t want them,” I replied. “Just take them,” he insisted. “You can always throw them away.” “No,” I refused, my voice raised by now, as I was angry that anyone should attempt to force the BNP’s literature on me in my own home.

After a bit more of this toing and froing, the postman eventually departed, still bearing the leaflets. I last saw him entering the premises of the Israeli-born designer Ron Arad, whom I imagine was just as delighted to receive him.

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What made the incident all the more shocking was that the postman was south Asian. Now I don’t know if he, like David Cameron’s black man in Plymouth, is of the view that levels of immigration in the UK are too high. But I can say that his accent was sufficiently strong for me to doubt that he was born here, and that I never expected to have BNP leaflets almost forced on me by someone the party would like out of the country — so much so that Nick Griffin would offer him £50,000 to return to his “ancestral home”.

I discovered later that all parties have the right to one free leaflet drop by the Royal Mail. However, according to the Communication Workers Union, there is supposed to be a “conscience clause” that allows postal workers to refuse to deliver literature they find offensive. If so, it’s not something of which my postman seemed to be aware.

“You shouldn’t be giving these out,” the (part-Cypriot) shopkeeper next door had said to him. “I have to,” was the response. There were complaints about this a year ago, with the CWU accusing the Royal Mail of “effectively bullying” posties into handing such leaflets out.

In a highly racially mixed area like Camden, where I live, this could easily be putting postal workers at risk of physical attack. If anyone had tried to deliver BNP leaflets yesterday or today, when the streets have been packed with well-refreshed hordes going on the “Camden Crawl“, I hate to think what could have happened.

“I feel quite sick now,” said my shopkeeper neighbour afterwards — and so did I.

In the past I have gone out of my way to defend the BNP’s right to free speech. After having some of their hateful literature thrust upon me in my own doorway, a doorway that leads to a house in which every single flat has at least one Asian or Jewish occupant — and by my own postman! — I think I will be ever-so-slightly less inclined to do so in future.

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