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British National Party

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God Save the King?
Yes. There is a wider range of takeaway food. That's it.
—Nick Griffin, when asked if there was anything good about immigration[1]

The British National Party (BNP) is a far-right British political party tracing back to a 1980 split with the National Front. The party was created by John Tyndall and in the 1980s had a bovver bootWikipedia image because of racist skinheads and football hooligans. A populist faction in the early 1990s tried to lose the violent subcultures and fascist bully-boys attracted to the party for professional local-electioneering which resulted in the BNP gaining a councillor in Tower Hamlets. The populist wing of the party was later led by Nick Griffin who replaced Tyndall as chairman in October 1999 with the intention of modernising the party by removing what he called "careless extremism"[2]:101-102 and "swapping bovver boots for sober suits"[3][4] to gain electoral support. The heyday of the BNP (2006-2009) saw the party win 55 local councillors, including 12 on Barking and Dagenham council and a seat on the London Assembly. At their height, the BNP achieved nearly a million votes in the 2009 European Parliament election; Griffin and Andrew Brons were elected as MEPs. In the 2010 general election the BNP failed to win a single seat and lost all of its councillors in Barking and Dagenham.

Infighting and party splits resulted in a collapse of the BNP's vote in the 2011 and 2012 local elections; its membership halved, with former members going off to join the English Democrats. By 2013 it was clear UKIP was the popular alternative to the BNP with Nigel Farage boasting: "I am proud to have taken a third of the BNP's support".[5] Brons resigned from the BNP in October 2012 and lost his seat with Griffin in the 2014 European Parliament election; Griffin was replaced as chairman by Adam Walker.

In January 2016 the BNP was deregistered as a political party by the Electoral Commission for failing to send in financial reports.[6] However, it was later re-registered.[7]

While the version formed in 1980 is the best known, the name had also been used by other far-right bodies. One version was formed in 1960, led by John Bean;Wikipedia it merged into the newly-formed National Front in 1967.[8] The name was also used by Edward Godfrey in 1942 for an antisemitic group sponsored by Duke of Bedford; in 1943 it was disbanded and reconstituted as the English National Association, which didn't last long either, due to attention from the security services and general unpopularity during World War II.[9]



Bovver boots, designed for kicking the shit out of innocent bystanders

John Tyndall left the National Front in June 1980 and set up the New National Front (NNF); Tyndall cooperated with Andrew Brons of the National Front creating a Committee for Nationalist Unity (1981) and managed to absorb the membership of various NF splinter groups (including the British Democratic PartyWikipedia). In 1982, the New National Front was renamed by Tyndall as the British National Party. The BNP throughout the 1980s had a bovver boot image like the NF, associated with racist skinheads. This image resulted in poor election results for the party and Tyndall in 1989 complained "during all these long years we cannot claim to have broken through to greatly increased public support".[10]:124 Tyndall a virulent antisemite had little interest in trying to make the party moderate and respectable in terms of how the electorate perceived the BNP; in 1986 Tyndall was imprisoned in 1986 for inciting racial hatred.[11] In 2005, Tyndall was again charged with inciting racial hatred, but he died shortly before his trial was set to begin.[11] The Sunday Times exposed that Richard Edmonds deputy leader of the party was a Holocaust denier.[12]

Tyndall is also known to have remarked, "Mein Kampf is my bible"[13] and Edmonds had described the BNP in the 1980s as "100 per cent racist".[14]

In contrast to the hardliners in the party, a populist faction associated with Eddy ButlerWikipedia appeared by 1990 with the aim of losing the bovver boots and violence for professional local-electioneering:

Where during the 1980s the BNP had purposely refrained from heavy engagement in local electoral arenas, at the beginning of the 1990s the Tower Hamlets branch stole the initiative and set itself on a course of local electioneering. The origin of this strategy did not lie with John Tyndall, who rarely left his Sussex redoubt, but with Eddy Butler the Tower Hamlets branch organiser… Butler's strategy was local community politics, addressing neighbourhood concerns through a populist campaigning style.
—Nigel Copsey[2]:55

Tower Hamlets, Rights for Whites[edit]

Butler was responsible for creating a stronghold in Tower HamletsWikipedia for the BNP by focusing on a local political campaign for social housing. Butler's campaign highlighted a "bias" that Bangladeshi immigrants were being housed by the council before white residents who had family in the Tower Hamlets London borough going back decades. His campaign Rights for Whites benefited from the Liberal Democrats who made the same argument and therefore the BNP could not be accused of racism since a mainstream political party was saying the same thing.[10]:125 The BNP however put out leaflets stating the Liberal Democrats only pretend they are against immigration and the "trick failed, as local whites had heard it all before".[10]:134 In 1990, a BNP candidate polled 130 votes (8%) in a Tower Hamlets council ward; the BNP built on this success.[10]:124-125 In October 1992, a local by-election in Millwall ward of Tower Hamlets saw the BNP obtain 657 votes (20%) and the following year in the same ward, the BNP polled 1480 votes (34%) winning the seat; Derek BeackonWikipedia was the first elected BNP councillor. In the 1994 local elections, Beackon lost his seat despite polling 2041 votes (28%). This was because a large turn out increased the Labour Party vote in opposition to the BNP. In three surrounding wards in Tower Hamlets, the BNP averaged 22% of the vote; in the neighbouring London borough of Newham, a BNP candidate came within 65 votes of winning a council seat.[10]:125 During the early 1990s the BNP had overtaken the NF in terms of electoral activity and its membership (estimated at 2000 in 1994.[2]:72

Millwall was just the beginning. The British National Party will soon be enjoying greater electoral successes.
British Nationalist (BNP newspaper) October 1993, page 1

In total, 29 BNP candidates in the May 1994 local elections (mostly based in the East End of LondonWikipedia) averaged 13% of the vote in council seats contested. Eddy Butler remarked, "Compared with results achieved by nationalist candidates in the recent past, our votes were nothing short of phenomenal".[2]:65 In June 1994 Tyndall stood in a parliamentary by-election in Dagenham retaining his deposit, polling 1,511 votes (7%). The BNP's rise in electoral support in the East End of London was met with hostility by the national and local press at the time; the Daily Mirror after Beackon's win printed its front-page: "SIEG HEIL… and now he's a British councillor".[10]:137 The East London Advertiser, formerly neutral, also adopted an anti-BNP stance. The bad publicity may have caused a slump in the BNP vote; Beackon polled 562 votes (19%) in a Tower Hamlet council by-election (Lansbury wardWikipedia) in December 1994; another by-election in 1995 saw the BNP vote fall to 16%, although these are relatively high figures.

Populists vs. Tyndall, 1996-1998[edit]

Eddy Butler, the BNP's press-officer Michael Newland, and Mark Deavin a PhD student at the London School of Economics who had close ties to the BNP wanted the party to model itself on the right-wing populism of the Front National and Austrian Freedom Party for the 1997 general election, by making the BNP "less abrasive" through non-threatening political discourse, i.e. moderating its policies on race and immigration.[2]:102-103 Tyndall disagreed, "who insisted that the drive for acceptability would lead the BNP down the path to oblivion".[2]:69 Butler and Newland briefly resigned from the BNP in 1996 joining the Bloomsbury Forum an ultra-conservative think tank founded by Adrian Davies, formerly an executive council member of the Conservative Monday Club.Wikipedia Both though re-joined the BNP at the beginning of 1997 with the intention to reform the party for the general election: "A properly run party free from Nazi cranks could do far better" remarked Newland.[2]:69 The populists were marginalised by Tyndall who invested £60,000 in contesting 57 parliamentary seats in the general election with minimal to no electioneering; the BNP's average vote was a mere 1% in contested seats and membership declined.[2]:71

Leadership election, Nick Griffin[edit]

After more disappointing election results (34 BNP candidates in the May 1998 local elections averaged only 3%[2]:72) the populists challenged Tyndall for chairmanship of the party. Their candidate was Nick Griffin who joined the populist faction in November 1998 after defending Michael Newland's comments about immigration made on the James Whale Talk Radio show (however Griffin had previously opposed the populists as much as Tyndall, even describing them as a "spiral of sickly moderation"[2]:70). Newland criticized the BNP's policy of compulsory repatriation as too extreme for the electorate:

"NICK GRIFFIN says the 'extremists' need to grow up", was how his [Griffin's] Spearhead article started in its support for Newland's comments. Significantly, Griffin recommended that the party should drop its commitment to compulsory repatriation — a policy move that he had ridiculed less than three years earlier. By launching a stinging attack on those hardliners who this this move as a 'sell out'. Griffin was now all but certain of the support of the modernisers.[2]:73

Griffin borrowed the language of Deavin who earlier wrote: "we must present ourselves nationally as the party of democracy against plutocracy, of freedom against Euro-tyranny, of security against fear and of identity against multi-culturalism".[2]:103 Griffin used these same four words as a "rejection of the verbal extremism of the past… a remodelling of the BNP's political style (if not its core ideology) on national-populism".[2]:103 In September 1999 Nick Griffin succeeded in winning the leadership contest against Tyndall; Griffin won with 1,082 votes (70%) of paid-up BNP members with a high turnout.[2]:100

Modernisation, 2000-2005[edit]

For the 2000 local elections and London mayoral election, Griffin modernised the BNP by revamping its structure, softening its views on race and immigration (i.e. dropping the compulsory repatriation policy) and making the party voter-friendly by "seeking to shed the party of associations with skinheads and violent behaviour, for instance by recruiting more female election candidates".[15] Griffin was impressed by the electoral gains achieved by Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National and the BNP's new journal Identity seems to have taken its title from the FN's Identité. The BNP stood 13 candidates in the 2000 local elections, averaging 8% of the vote in contested seats.[16] While no councillors were elected, Stephen Edwards the BNP candidate in SandwellWikipedia polled 781 votes (24%).[2]:116 Newland, the BNP mayoral candidate polled 33,569 votes (2%) across London; his vote share in the East End was a high as 9%.[2]:116 In December 2000, Edwards left the party with Newland to form the ring-wing populist Freedom PartyWikipedia, both criticised Griffin for not moderating its policies enough on immigration as well as financial irregularities.[2]:121 The Freedom Party's emphasis was culture, not race. Subsequently, despite Griffin's "sober suit" modernisation he managed to keep "hardliner support in the BNP, because many activists regarded the Freedom Party as not being hard-line enough in their policies".[17]

Disillusioned with the government over the 2001 OldhamWikipedia and Burnley race riots, a significant number of white working class voters turned to the BNP. In the June 2001 general election, Griffin stood in Oldham West and Royton polling 6,552 votes (16%) and in Burnley, Steven Smith, the local BNP branch organiser also received quite a high vote share (11%). After the result, Griffin commented: "There are large numbers of whites who feel there is nothing for them in the political process."[18] In other words the British National Party hoovered up protest votesWikipedia which had normally gone to the Liberal Democrats. In three Burnley council by-elections in November 2001, the BNP averaged 21% of the vote. The following year, the BNP won 3 councillors in Burnley.[2]:149 The BNP campaigned on the perceived imbalances in council spending on different ethnic communities as well as Muslim attacks on white British, Hindus and Sikhs; Griffin attempted to forge links with the Sikh and Hindu communities to appear non-racist.[19][20] Rajinder Singh working with Griffin set up an "Asian Friends of the BNP" group for Sikhs and Hindus sympathetic to the BNP's anti-Islamic stance. Although a handful of Sikhs and Hindus joined forces with the BNP, Singh's group was condemned by all leading Hindu and Sikh organisations at the time. In the 2003 local elections the BNP stood 217 candidates, averaging an impressive 17% of the vote in seats contested.[21] The BNP won a further 7 councillors in Burnley, making it the official opposition to the Labour Party; Griffin described the gains as "absolutely fantastic".[22]

The modernisation of the BNP was opposed by Tyndall who argued it was unnecessary since the success of the party was because of "favourable external circumstances" such as the Oldham and Burnley race riots.[23] Tydnall wanted the compulsory repatriation policy restored. Griffin responded by expelling Tyndall in August 2003, but after an out of court settlement he was reinstated as a party member. In September 2003, a BNP candidate won a Thurrock council by-election, polling 552 votes (38%).[24] For the 2004 European election, Nick Griffin promised more policy moderation and ideological change: "the essential difference between the old BNP of John Tyndall and the new BNP, Griffin claimed, was the rejection of fascist totalitarianism".[23] Griffin now allowed some ethnic minorities to join the party, despite the official party constitution restricting membership to "indigenous British".[note 1] Patricia RichardsonWikipedia was the first Jewish candidate to stand for the BNP, winning a seat on Epping Forest District Council.[26] In the 2004 European election the BNP polled 808,200 votes (5%) and came close to winning a seat in the North West.Wikipedia[16] Griffin permanently expelled Tyndall from the party in December 2004 after he criticized Richardson's membership and Rajinder Singh being allowed to write an article in the BNP's newspaper (Singh also appeared in the 2004 local election broadcast[27] for the BNP).

It is often argued that "even if the image and tactics have changed under Griffin there has been little modification of the party’s core ideology".[2]:3 Copsey (2007) who has analysed Griffin's modernisation of the party leading up to the BNP's 2005 general election manifesto, concluded that while the BNP opposes totalitarian government and has adopted a populist agenda, there is a "recalibration of fascism":[23]

ideological renewal under Griffin constitutes a recalibration of fascism rather than a fundamental break in ideological continuity. All the same, the party's ideological face-lift lends support to Griffin's broader normalization strategy… The party's opposition to a central state, rejection of ID cards, its call for devolved and decentralized government, its demand for a bill of rights, and the introduction of citizens initiative referenda hardly conveys the impression of a fascist party that seeks totalitarian control over state, society and the individual… Outward appearances suggest that personal freedom and cultural pluralism would remain under a BNP government. But, if we probe its manifesto more closely, we soon find evidence of an instinctive susceptibility to illiberal thinking. The proposals include the introduction of a Clause-28 style proscription against the promotion of racial integration in schools and media… its promise that law-abiding minorities would "enjoy the full protection of the law against harassment or hostility" starts to ring somewhat hollow. (emphasis added)

Goodwin & Ford (2014) similarly argue the BNP has not completely transformed into a right-wing populist party like UKIP and still has fascist undertones.[28] Others disagree with this analysis and categorize the BNP as "radical populist right" with the Front National, Lega NordWikipedia and Party for Freedom.[29] For Kessel (2015), the modern BNP is no longer a fascist party because: "In recent years, the BNP explicitly aimed to present itself as a democratic party. The manifesto for the 2005 general election was actually titled 'Rebuilding British democracy' and warned against excessive central state control."[30]

Some have argued Griffin's own comments reveal his "modernisation" is a deceptive strategy:[31]

Once we're in a position where we control the British broadcasting media, then perhaps one day the British people might change their mind and say, 'yes, every last one must go'. But if you hold that out as your sole aim to start with, you're not going to get anywhere. So, instead of talking about racial purity, we talk about identity … The British National Party isn't about selling out its ideas, which are your ideas too, but we are determined now to sell them, and that means basically to use the saleable words, as I say, freedom, security, identity, democracy. Nobody can criticise them. Nobody can come at you and attack you on those ideas. They are saleable.
—Nick Griffin, addressing an audience with David Duke by his side.

The BNP stood 117 candidates in the 2005 general election polling 192,746 votes (averaging 4% in seats contested[25]:45). In Barking, BNP candidate Richard BarnbrookWikipedia polled 4,916 votes (17%) which remains the highest vote share for a far right party in a parliamentary seat; Griffin contested KeighleyWikipedia and gained 9%; in Burnley the BNP vote was 10%, a minor decrease from the previous election.

Heydey of the BNP, 2006-2009[edit]

The BNP launched an intensive campaign in Barking for the 2006 local elections; Eddy Butler the same year was made National Elections Officer by Griffin. By attempting to broaden its appeal to voters, more ethnic minorities stood as candidates for the party. These included Sharif Abdel Gawad, a Greek-Armenian.[32] However this "provoked a backlash among BNP hardliners who described Gawad as an 'ethnic' who should be barred from the party on race grounds."[33] According to Griffin, the BNP is no longer a white nationalist party; writing in Identity he said: "unlike racial nationalist purists, we would be opposed to the arrival at Dover of several million German or Swedish immigrants".[34] The BNP clings still to an ethnic view of British identity, but calls its new ideology "Popular Nationalism":

…while we are determined to become a party of Popular Nationalism, we are not bend-with-the-wind populists. Our proposals are not a mishmash of simplistic short-term policies cynically designed to evoke maximum sympathy and minimum hostility from an electorate bored with political ideas. They are instead a tightly argued, moderately presented, blueprint for the radical transformation of Britain and British society.
—Nick Griffin[23]

In May 2006 the BNP stood 363 council candidates and got 33 elected, averaging a record 18% of the vote in contested seats.[16] Twelve councillors were elected onto Barking and Dagenham council and Barnbrook won a seat in Gorebrook ward,Wikipedia polling 1,434 votes (42%). Elsewhere, the BNP won council seats in Epping Forest, Stoke-on-Trent and Sandwell.[35] This success led to a journalist to infiltrate the BNP. He reported in December 2006 that: "techniques of secrecy and deception [are] employed by the British National party in its attempt to conceal its activities and intentions".[36] The BNP expected to keep up momentum at the 2007 local elections with 744 candidates, but their average vote in council seats fell to 13%.[16] They did though win a few more councillors.[37] In the Welsh Assembly elections held the same year the BNP came just short (2,580 votes) of gaining a regional seat on the Assembly.[38] In August 2007 the BNP won a council by-election in Epping Forest, polling 393 votes (32%).[39]

Griffin fought off an attempted leadership challenge in December 2007. For the 2008 London Assembly election,Wikipedia the BNP spent £75,000 on producing and delivering over a million leaflets across London; Barnbrook narrowly secured a seat on the Assembly, polling 130,714 votes (5%). In the FPTP constituency seat covering Barking and Dagenham, the BNP won 18,020 votes (10%). The BNP also slightly increased their average vote (14%) in contested local council seats that year, winning three seats on Stoke-on-Trent council and another in Epping Forest.[16] In November 2008, the entire 11,000 BNP membership list with names, addresses, telephone numbers and employment details was leaked on the internet.[40] Simon Darby,Wikipedia deputy leader of the BNP commented, "In a way it's a compliment, a sign of how worried people are about how well we're doing." Griffin has argued since the list contains members from all backgrounds, jobs and professions — the BNP is respectable: "What could do more to distance the party from its image as a reservoir of white working-class discontent than a ballerina - Simone Clarke - with a Cuban boyfriend espousing the party's anti-immigration policies?"[41]

WikiLeaks map showing geographical distribution of BNP members.

Support for the BNP peaked in the 2009 European Parliament election when the party won 943,598 votes (6%); Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons were elected as MEP's by proportional representation. In Yorkshire and the HumberWikipedia, Brons won a seat with 10% of the vote share and Griffin with 8% in the North West.Wikipedia Griffin has stated the electoral breakthrough was the result of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives allowing mass-immigration from eastern European Union countries: "by leaving the door to Britain open, has forced people to turn to a party which speaks openly about the problem of immigration".[42]

The protest against Griffin appearong on Question Time

Nick Griffin appeared in October 2009 on BBC's political discussion show Question Time with 8 million viewers, three times its normal audience.[43] There was an organised protest outside the BBC Television Centre; Griffin accused the protesters of "attacking the rights of millions of people to listen to what I've got to say and listen to me being called to account by other politicians".[44] Griffin was regarded to have performed poorly on the show by members of his own party.[45] A YouGov poll taken hours after Griffin’s appearance on the show, found 22% would "seriously consider" voting for the BNP in a future election.[46][47] However of these, only 4% said they would "definitely" vote for the party. A 2009 study by Robert Ford found that the BNP is only "realising a fraction of its electoral potential".[48] One in five of the British electorate agree with key BNP policies but the majority are "reluctant to endorse a policy when they become aware of a BNP connection" because of a "severe image problem".

In November 2009 the BNP contested a parliamentary by-election in Glasgow North EastWikipedia. The BNP candidate polled 1,013 votes (5%) and nearly pushed the Conservatives into 4th place, coming within 20 votes of saving his deposit, which was a shock to the Scottish parties; the BNP rarely stood any candidates north of England.[49] At the end of 2009, BNP had 55 councillors.[50]

Membership policy change[edit]

The Equality and Human Rights Commission took legal action against the BNP's "indigenous British" membership policy.[51] Griffin had already allowed ethnic minorities to join such as Lawrence RustemWikipedia a Turkish Cypriot, but a small section in the BNP constitution said membership was restricted to "indigenous British ethnic groups" including the "Anglo-Saxon (English) folk community" and the "Celtic Scottish folk community". In February 2010, the BNP agreed to amend the constitution with Griffin proclaiming: "We recognise legal reality... they can't call us racist anymore".[52] Griffin used the change to persuade voters who consider voting BNP but are off-put by the party's "angry white men" image.[53] Rajinder Singh who became a member expressed his opinion: "They are trying to soften up. Shouldn't the nation welcome that? It's a positive move if they get people like me, and if I'm sitting in a BNP meeting they won't say 'Throw all of them out' because they'll realise one of 'them' is among 'us'."[54]

The membership was still ruled be discriminatory by a judge, who said, "I hold that the BNP are likely to commit unlawful acts of discrimination within section 1b Race Relations Act 1976 in the terms on which they are prepared to admit persons to membership under the 12th addition of their constitution."[55] This remains a matter of legal compliance, and is unlikely to signify any more policy change.

The Battle for Barking, 2010[edit]

In the 2010 general election the BNP stood 338 candidates polling 564,321 votes. Their average vote (4%) for parliamentary seats contested was the same as the previous election.[56] A documentary was produced called The Battle for BarkingWikipedia which filmed the BNP campaign in Barking where Nick Griffin was a candidate. Griffin failed to win the seat, polling 6,620 votes (15%). In Burnley, the BNP vote share fell to 9%. Simon Darby stood for the party in Stoke-on-Trent Central and thought he had a good chance of winning.[57] However, Darby polled only 2,502 votes (8%). Overall, the BNP won no seats and £132,500 was wasted on lost deposits.[58] In the 2010 local elections, the BNP lost 26 council seats, including all of its councillors in Barking and Dagenham.[59][60] The new image Griffin was trying to sell to the electorate — a respectable multi-ethnic BNP with a black member on the Barking campaign[61] was jeopardised by violence when white BNP activists brawled with Asians on a street-corner.[62]

In June 2010 Eddy Butler challenged Griffin for the leadership of the party, but failed to obtain the nominations required. Infighting over Griffin as chairman led to around a hundred members to leave and create the British Freedom PartyWikipedia which made contacts with the English Defence League; Griffin in response called the BFP "militant homosexuals" (it had a gay member) and the EDL as "Zionists", ending his phase of trying to appear moderate. In July 2010, Barnbrook stood in a council by-election in Barking (in the same ward he was formerly a councillor); he came second with 642 votes (34%).[63]

Vote collapse, 2011-present[edit]

The BNP's vote fully collapsed in the 2011 and 2012 local elections when they lost all their councillors in Stoke-on-Trent and Burnley.[64][65] Brons resigned from the BNP in October 2012.[66] Half of the BNP's membership (including Eddy Butler) quit to join the English Democrats or form their own splinter-groups such as the British Democratic Party,Wikipedia Britain First, Patria and Britannica Party. Hardliners like Richard Edmonds re-joined the National Front. The poor election results were not the only reason for members resigning; Griffin was accused of financial mismanagement and being a dictator. In the 2012 London Assembly election,Wikipedia the BNP polled 47,024 votes (2%) and failed to re-elect a candidate. By 2013, the United Kingdom Independence Party emerged as the popular alternative to the BNP:

What we did, starting with the Oldham by-election in the North of England is for the first time ever try to deal with the BNP question by going out and saying to BNP voters, if you are voting BNP because you are frustrated, upset with the change in your community, but you are doing it holding your nose because you don't agree with their racist agenda, come and vote for us. I would think that we have probably taken a third of the BNP vote directly from them.
Nigel Farage[67]

Farage admitted that UKIP had been campaigning to attract BNP voters since the 2011 parliamentary by-election in Oldham East and SaddleworthWikipedia where UKIP polled 2,029 votes (6%) and the BNP, 1,560 (5%). In 2012 by-elections the BNP vote further declined, while the UKIP vote massively increased; an exception was RotherhamWikipedia where the BNP managed to retain a fairly significant vote share (9%) based on the local popularity of its candidate Marlene Guest. In the 2013 local elections the BNP stood 100 candidates averaging a mere 6% in seats contested; UKIP stood 1742 candidates and averaged a spectacular 24%.[68] The BNP won no councillors, but UKIP gained 147. According to Matthew Goodwin, "There is a clear relationship between the rise of UKIP in local elections and the disintegration of the BNP".[69] He also noted that UKIP can succeed where the BNP failed since UKIP "is not tainted by a violent, fascist past". Free of extremist baggage, it is able to appeal to a more diverse range of voters.

Griffin lost his seat in the 2014 European parliament election and was later expelled from the party and replaced as chair by Adam Walker, a former college lecturer and more recently a karate teacher.[70] By 2015, the BNP was left with a single councillor in Pendle, Lancashire. The collapse of the BNP has recently seen the party abandon trying to appear moderate and respectable, calling UKIP "plastic nationalists" and Farage having "sold out to the Zionist lobby".[71]

In January 2016, the BNP was temporarily stripped of official political party status by the Electoral Commission after failure to submit its annual accounts and other reporting formalities. At this time, it was estimated that BNP assets totalled less than £50,000.[72] The BNP re-registered with the Electoral Commission for the May 2016 London Assembly election,Wikipedia but polled a dismal 15,833 votes (1%).

Griffin attempted to emigrate to Hungary in 2017, but was banned from the country.[73] Meanwhile the few remaining members of the party were up to their old tricks: Paul Sturdy, BNP candidate for Dagenham in Essex, was criticised after sharing a Facebook post with a cartoon Evil Jew saying, "we want to create a one world state ruled by JEWS".[74] 10 BNP candidates stood in the 2017 UK general election, the best showing being Adam Walker's 2.3% in Bishop Auckland (County Durham); he came fourth out of four candidates.[75]

Electoral performance[edit]

Local elections[edit]

Local elections results for BNP (2000-2013)[28][16]
Year Candidates Average Vote %
2000 13 8%
2001 4 4%
2002 67 16%
2003 217 17%
2004 312 16%
2005 41 11%
2006 363 18%
2007 744 13%
2008 612 14%
2009 442 11%
2010 716 9%
2011 264 9%
2012 132 8%
2013 100 6%


The BNP had long been "committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent, the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948."[76]:3 In 2009, Griffin said he "no longer wants to see an all-white United Kingdom" because "nobody out there wants it or would pay for it."[77]


We are pledged to stemming and reversing the immigration and migration of peoples into our British Homeland that has, without the express consent of the Indigenous British, taken place since 1948, and to restoring and maintaining, by legal changes, negotiation and consent, the Indigenous British as the overwhelming majority in the make up of the population of and expression of culture in each part of our British Homeland.
—BNP Constitution 2010, v12.2, Section 3, Clause 3.2.3, page 7.[78]:114-115

The raison d'etre of the BNP has always been strong opposition to immigration with few exceptions; Griffin has described this as "exceptional immigration". The 2005 BNP manifesto stated that immigration from "Africa, Asia, China, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America would all be placed on an immediate ‘stop’ list", but would accept foreign students with visas.[79] The BNP would deport all illegal immigrants and oppose refugees since "international law provides that such persons must be given – and must seek – refuge in the nearest safe country. So, unless a flood of refugees from a civil war in France or Denmark shows up on our shores, these refugees are simply not Britain’s responsibility and have no right to refuge here." In their 2010 manifesto, the BNP said it would allow for foreign work permits, but "only [to] be issued in exceptional circumstances, for example, when the Government determines there is a need to rebuild British industry or when there is a genuine shortage of skills." Regarding ethnic minorities, "The BNP recognises the right of legally settled and law-abiding minorities to remain in the UK and enjoy the full protection of the law, on the understanding that the indigenous population of Britain has the right to remain the majority population of our nation."[80]

Voluntary repatriation[edit]

The BNP would offer immigrants already settled ₤50,000 per person to leave the country as part of its "voluntary repatriation" programme.[81]

The BNP's voluntary repatriation policy would apply not to just to recent immigrant arrivals in the last few decades, but all members of the sizeable Asian and West Indian communities that have grown in Britain since the 1950s (two or three generations).

European Union[edit]

The British National Party since 1982 advocated British withdrawal from the European Union.


In a statement of the party's policies and intentions, Griffin repeatedly emphasised that the party is "not racist," while describing Britain as a "fundamentally white nation," condemning miscegenation as unnatural, and reiterating that he considers non-Caucasians, or white citizens who choose non-whites as sexual or marriage partners, as unsuitable for party membership. He stated that, once the BNP has removed the majority of immigrant groups from the country, "[t]hose non-Europeans who stay will have British passports and will be protected by our laws, but they will be regarded as permanent guests, and not as native English, Scots, Welsh or Irish, because such status springs from blood and not from printers’ ink."[82] Griffin claims to be opposed to racism, describing the Ku Klux Klan as "a vile organisation" despite meeting with its Grand Dragon, Don Black.[83] He also claims to be "the most loathed man in Britain in the eyes of Britain's Nazis",[84] saying that they see him as "a sell-out". Clearly he hasn't read his article on Metapedia.[85]

Anti-Semitism has also been a significant aspect of BNP ideology, and BNP leaders have made several statements of Holocaust denial. On Question Time, Nick Griffin was challenged on it but refused to comment on why he changed his views or why he originally denied it, muttering something about it being illegal and free speech or something, even after Justice Secretary Jack Straw pointed out that he could not, and would not be prosecuted for it (Holocaust denial is not a crime in the UK, as it is some European countries[86]). However, in recent years the party has decided that its major enemy is — you guessed it — Islam. A BNP statement during 2006 asserted that "[t]he real enemies of the British people are home grown Anglo-Saxon Celtic liberal-leftists who seek to destroy the family as the building blocks of society and impose multiculturalism on a reluctant indigenous population and the Crescent Horde - the endless wave of Islamics who are flocking to our shores to bring our island nations into the embrace of their barbaric desert religion."[87]

The BNP's attempts to disguise its racialist roots and pose itself as a legitimate political force are hardly convincing, especially as many of its prominent members have past convictions for violent offences and hate crimes. Its attempts to sound the alarm about the supposed Islamic "threat to all of us" also comes off as hollow in the wake of this quote from Griffin, which manages to be both bigoted and unprincipled:

We bang on about Islam. Why? Because to the ordinary public out there it's the thing they can understand. It's the thing the newspaper editors sell newspapers with. If we were to attack some other ethnic group — some people say we should attack the Jews… But… we've got to get to power. And if that was an issue we chose to bang on about when the press don't talk about it… the public would just think we were barking mad. They'd just think oh, you're attacking Jews just because you want to attack Jews. You're attacking this group of powerful Zionists just because you want to take poor Manny Cohen the tailor and shove him in a gas chamber. That's what the public would think. It wouldn't get us anywhere other than stepping backwards. It would lock us in a little box; the public would think 'extremist crank lunatics, nothing to do with me.' And we wouldn't get power."[88]

Predictably, their law and order policies follow the "hang 'em and flog 'em" line. But they mean it literally. They would "re-introduce corporal punishment for petty criminals and vandals" and "Restore capital punishment for paedophiles, terrorists and murderers as an option for judges in cases where their guilt is proven beyond dispute."

The party has also advocated the recognition of November as White History Month.[89][90]


As with its predecessor the National Front, the BNP has spawned a good number of splinter groups. Generally, these were founded by people loyal to far-right politics but critical of Griffin's leadership. Examples include the British "Freedom" Party, the British Democratic Party,Wikipedia Britain First and Patria.

People associated with the BNP[edit]

Man with the knickers on his head (or did Gumby[91] buy a suit?): Britain First leader, Paul Golding, former BNP activist (here he was still in the National Front). The man in the middle of the photo appears to be Mark Collett.
  • John Tyndall: Founder; dethroned and deceased.
  • Nick Griffin: Leader from 1999-2014. Quit to form the BUP.
  • Adam Walker: Current leader.[92]
  • Lee Barnes: Former legal officer, now a dissident after falling out with Griffin.
  • Jonathan Bowden: Served as cultural officer before falling out with Griffin; deceased.
  • Andrew Brons: One of the BNP's two MEPs, until he left to start his own party after falling out with Griffin.
  • Jack Buckby: former BNP member who now claims to be a "counter-extremist". Many people however doubt he's really changed his racist views.
  • Sarah "Maid of Albion" Davies: Blogger.
  • Mark Collett, a young BNP leader, who featured in a Channel 4 documentary Young, Nazi and ProudWikipedia[93] and RE:BRAND Naziboy, where he called HIV/AIDS a "friendly disease" and expressed his admiration for Adolf Hitler to the Jewish journalist, unaware he was being filmed.[94]
  • Michael Coombs: a neo-Nazi Twitter troll who claims to have been a former BNP member and has described Nick Griffin as a "good man"
  • Carlos Cortiglia: Uruguayan-born candidate for Mayor of London in 2012.
  • Jim Dowson: Former fundraiser; later left the party to create Britain First with comrade Paul Golding (has since left BF)
  • Kenneth McKilliam‎: Involved in the party in its early days; died in 1993.
  • Alan O'Reilly: Activist and raving fundie.
  • Clive Potter: Former parliamentary candidate and leader of alleged BNP front Solidarity; now involved with English nationalism.
  • Jack "Boot" Renshaw, the leader of the Youth BNP[note 2] in the North West, Jack "Boot" Renshaw, made international news[note 3] after claiming that his gay dog undermined his principles by "licking the penises of other male dogs" (The horror! It's almost as is this sort of thing happened in nature…[note 4]), claiming that "my principles will likely win!.[96] The party consequently crashed dramatically in the European electionsWikipedia of that year.

See also[edit]

  • Golden Dawn: Nick Griffin, as leader of the BUP (British Unity Party), is a deputy chairman of the Alliance for Peace and FreedomWikipedia Besides the president of the party, which is a member of the Italian political party Forza Nuova (New Force), there is another deputy chairman of that same alliance which is member of a very famous far-right Greek political party? Can you guess how that political party is called?
  • Oswald Mosley
  • Persecution complex
  • Reductio ad Hitlerum

External links[edit]


  1. "The BNP had actually begun discussing the possibility of allowing 'non-white' members in 2004, when Griffin hinted at the possible benefits that might accompany a more inclusive membership."[25]:122)
  2. Not a typo, it's been through many incarnations. See the Wikipedia article on Resistance (YBNP).
  3. Such as from The Young Turks, who describe him as "conservative", showing that they really don't understand British politics at all.[95]
  4. Yes, this is an appeal to nature


  1. The Battle for Barking (Jun 26, 2016) YouTube (archived from March 28, 2017).
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy by Nigel Copsey (2004) Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403902143.
  3. Who's afraid of the BNP? (10:32 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 11:32 UK) BBC News.
  4. The BNP's breakthrough: Booted and suited. Britain is not about to go fascist, but the BNP’s success is worrying all the same (Jun 11th 2009) The Economist.
  5. Nigel Farage: I am proud to have taken a third of the BNP's support: The Ukip leader says his party actively targeted BNP voters who were 'frustrated' and 'upset' by their changing communities by Georgia Graham (31 March 2014 • 6:46pm) Telegraph.
  6. BNP removed from official list of political parties (8 January 2016) BBC News.
  7. BNP Re-Registers As Political Party: BNP's Political Party Application Contains One Glaring Reason Why It Should Be Rejected by Aubrey Allegretti (January 27, 2016) Huffington Post.
  8. See the Wikipedia article on British National Party (1960).
  9. See the Wikipedia article on English National Association.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 "Contemporary Fascism in the Local Arena: The British National Party and Rights for Whites" by Nigel Copsey (1996) In: The Failure of British Fascism: The Far Right and the Fight for Political Recognition, edited by Mike Cronin. Macmillan. ISBN 0333646746. Pages 118-140.
  11. 11.0 11.1 A racist, violent neo-nazi to the end: BNP founder Tyndall dies by Sandra Laville & Matthew Taylor (20 July 2005 00.24 BST) The Guardian.
  12. "Holocaust hate sheet alarms British Jews" by Jon Craig & Jo Revill (6.3.1988) The Sunday Times.
  13. Expelled BNP founder plans court battle by Jamie Doward (23 Aug 2003 19.37 EDT) The Guardian.
  14. BNP: under the skin BBC.
  15. "The Canary in a Coalmine? Explaining the Emergence of the British National Party in English Local Politics." by Stuart Wilks-Heeg (2008) Parliamentary Affairs 62(3): 377-398. doi:10.1093/pa/gsn043.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Electoral performance of the British National Party in the UK by Edmund Tetteh (15 May 2009) House of Commons Library.
  17. Explaining the support of the British National Party (BNP) in the 1999, 2004 and 2009 European Parliament Elections by Jonathan Richard Willis (2011) M.A. Thesis, University of Central Florida.
  18. BNP makes its mark in Oldham by Helen Carter and Paul Kelso (8 Jun 2001 12.56 EDT) The Guardian.
  19. Sikhs urged to reject BNP approach (6 September, 2001, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK) BBC News.
  20. Hindu and Sikh extremists in link with BNP by Paul Harris (23 Dec 2001 12.10 EST) The Guardian.
  21. Tetteh, 2009.
  22. BNP becomes Burnley's second party (2 May, 2003, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK) BBC News.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Changing Course or Changing Clothes? Reflections on the Ideological Evolution of the British National Party, 1999–2006 by Nigel Copsey (2007) Patterns of Prejudice 41(1):61-82. doi:10.1080/00313220601118777.
  24. BNP takes Essex council seat by Matthew Tempest (5 Sep 2003 08.26 EDT) The Guardian.
  25. 25.0 25.1 New British Fascism: Rise of the British National Party by Matthew Goodwin (2011) Routledge. ISBN 0415465001.
  26. BNP Jewish Win by Leslie Bunder (11/06/2004) Something Jewish News (archived from June 16, 2004).
  27. British National Party Election Broadcast, 2004 from the YouTube channel RockAndRollMassacre 27 April 2007
  28. 28.0 28.1 Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain by Robert Ford & Matthew Goodwin (2014) Routledge. ISBN 041569051X.
  29. "Inclusion and mainstreaming?" by Tjitske Akkerman et al. (2016) In: Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe, edited by Tjitske Akkerman et al. Routledge. ISBN 1138914835.
  30. Populist Parties in Europe: Agents of Discontent? by Stijn van Kessel (2015) Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1137414103.
  31. Panorama: Under the Skin Interview between Jane Corbin and Nick Griffin (November 25, 2000) BBC.
  32. BNP's 'ethnic' man defies the far right by Shirin Aguiar-Holloway (09 April 2006 00:00 BST) Independent.
  33. BNP in turmoil as members row about 'ethnic' candidate by Michael White & Martin Wainwright (7 Apr 2006 21.11 EDT) The Guardian.
  34. Copsey, 2007.
  35. BNP doubles number of councillors (5 May 2006, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK) BBC News.
  36. Exclusive: inside the secret and sinister world of the BNP by Ian Cobain (21 Dec 2006 07.32 EST) The Guardian.
  37. Mixed poll results so far for BNP (4 May 2007, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK) BBC News.
  38. Record Welsh election for the BNP (4 May 2007, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK) BBC News.
  39. BNP win Loughton Alderton by-election by Edmund Tobin (30th August 2007) Guardian-Series.
  40. BNP membership list leaked onto internet by James Kirkup & Christopher Hope (18 November 2008 • 7:36pm) The Telegraph.
  41. Privacy issues for BNP members by Iain Watson (14:52 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008) BBC News.
  42. BNP secures two European seats (14:07 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 15:07 UK) BBC News.
  43. BNP leader's Question Time appearance draws almost 8m viewers by Jason Deans (23 Oct 2009 05.30 EDT) The Guardian.
  44. Angry scenes face Griffin at BBC (22 October 2009 00:08 UK) BBC News.
  45. Nick Griffin attacked by his own BNP supporters over Question Time by Jamie Doward (24 Oct 2009 19.06 EDT) The Guardian.
  46. One in five 'would consider voting BNP' after Nick Griffin Question Time appearance by Rosa Prince (23 October 2009 • 9:45pm) The Telegraph.
  47. BNP support in poll sparks anger (24 October 2009 08:56 UK) BBC News.
  48. Twenty per cent of British voters agree with BNP (19 May 2009) The University of Manchester (archived from February 16, 2017).
  49. That was Brit close by Andrew Nicoll & Kenny McAlpine (13 Nov 2009) The Scottish Sun (archived from November 16, 2009).
  50. Tetteh, 2009.
  51. BNP to consider non-white members (14:32 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 15:32 UK) BBC News.
  52. BNP votes to ditch whites-only membership rule (8:57 GMT, Sunday, 14 February 2010) BBC News.
  53. "Angry White Men: Individual and Contextual Predictors of Support for the British National Party" by Robert Ford & Matthew J. Goodwin (2010) Political Studies. 58(1):1-25. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9248.2009.00829.
  54. 'Every Hindu and Sikh should be praising the BNP' by Jenny Kleeman (11 Feb 2010 04.00 EST) The Guardian.
  55. BNP membership rules still discriminatory, court rules (23:03 GMT, Friday, 12 March 2010) BBC News.
  56. Goodwin, 2011: 45.
  57. General election 2010: 'There is real risk from BNP here'. The Guardian. April, 2010.
  58. Goodwin, 2011: 45.
  59. General election 2010: the defeat of the BNP. The Guardian. May, 2010.
  60. BNP loses all 12 seats in Barking and Dagenham council. BBC News. May, 2010.
  61. BNP's Ethnic Minority Member (Apr 30, 2010) YouTube.
  62. Asian men and BNP candidate Bob Bailey clash in Barking. BBC News. May, 2010.
  63. BNP beaten by Labour in east London by-elections. The Guardian. July, 2010.
  64. Vote 2011: BNP suffers council seat losses. BBC News. May, 2011.
  65. BNP crashes out in local elections. The Guardian. May, 2012.
  66. A fatal blow? The latest split within the British National Party. New Statesman. October, 2012.
  67. Nigel Farage says he is 'proud' to have secured former BNP supporters. Independent. April, 2014.
  68. Goodwin & Ford, 2014.
  69. What killed the BNP?. New Statesman. January, 2016.
  70. BNP leader is coaching children despite lifetime teaching ban by Nazia Parveen (31 Jan 2017) The Guardian.
  71. BNP Accuses Ukip Of Being ‘Zionists’ Because Of Support For Israel by Tom Moseley (April 1, 2013) Huffington Post.
  72. BNP stripped of official status as a political party by the Electoral Commission by Kate Mccann & Steven Swinford (08 January 2016 • 3:19pm) Telegraph.
  73. Far right leader Nick Griffin banned from Hungary by Sue Austin (May 29, 2017) Shropshire Star.
  74. Election 2017: ‘Jews use Islam to rule world’ claims post by Dagenham BNP hopeful by Sebastian Murphy-Bates (Published: 16:49 07 June 2017 | Updated: 12:51 08 June 2017) Barking and Dagenham Post (archived from November 28, 2020).
  75. See the Wikipedia article on British National Party election results.
  76. Constitution of the British National Party (2004) British National Party. Eighth Edition. Archived from June 29, 2007. Note: pages are out of order in this copy.
  77. BNP 'does not want all-white UK' (12 July 2009 16:01 UK) BBC News.
  78. Citizenship, the Self and the Other: Critical Discussions on Citizenship and How to Approach Religious and Cultural Difference by Malik Ajani (2015) Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443875127.
  79. Rebuilding British Democracy: British National Party General Election Manifesto, 2005 via BBC.
  80. Democracy, Freedom, Culture and Identity: British National Party General Election Manifesto, 2010 (archived from December 22, 2014).
  81. BNP would offer £50,000 to leave the country by Jon Smith (29 April 2010 09:22 BST) Independent.
  82. The BNP: Anti-asylum protest, racist sect or power-winning movement? by Nick Griffin, British National Party (archived from June 19, 2003).
  83. Nick Griffin met US head of Ku Klux Klan by Andrew Pierce (22 October 2009 • 8:31pm) The Telegraph.
  84. Griffin: 'I am not a Nazi' by Gavin Cordon (22 October 2009 22:00 BST) Independent.
  85. Nick Griffin Metapedia (archived from March 3, 2018).
  86. See the Wikipedia article on Legality of Holocaust denial.
  87. News article filed by BNP news team (28th July 2006) British National Party (archived from October 14, 2007).
  88. Islamic Movements of Europe: Public Religion and Islamophobia in the Modern World, edited by Frank Peter & Rafael Ortega (2014) I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1848858442.
  89. Anger over BNP's 'white history month' by Tim Lezard (26 November 2008) New Statesman.
  90. BNP ‘White History Month’ whitewashes history by Edmund Standing (November 12th 2008, 11:11 pm) Harry's Place (archived from November 13, 2008).
  91. Gumbys Monty Python Wiki.
  92. Griffin defends record after stepping down as BNP leader, BBC News, 21 July 2014.
  93. Young, Nazi and Proud (Jun 3, 2012) BBC via YouTube.
  94. Brand - Episode 2 - Naziboy (Jul 6, 2013) Russell Brand's RE:Brand via YouTube.
  95. Conservative Threatens Homosexual Dog (Jul 21, 2014) The Young Turks via YouTube.
  96. BNP Youth Member Jack Renshaw Has Principles Challenged By His 'Gay Dog' (July 17, 2014) The Huffington Post UK.


  • Akkerman, T., De Lange, S. L., Rooduijn, M. (2016). "Inclusion and mainstreaming?" in: Akkerman, T (ed.) Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe: Into the Mainstream?. Routledge.
  • Copsey, N. (1996). "Contemporary Fascism in the Local Arena: The British National Party and Rights for Whites" in: Cronin, M. (ed.) The Failure of British Fascism. Macmillan: 118-140.
  • Copsey, N. (2004). Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Copsey, N. (2007). "Changing Course or Changing Clothes? Reflections on the Ideological Evolution of the British National Party, 1999–2006". Patterns of Prejudice. 41(1): 61-82. [1]
  • Ford, R., Goodwin, M. (2010). "Angry White Men: Individual and Contextual Predictors of Support for the British National Party". Political Studies. 58(1): 1-25.
  • Goodwin, M. (2011). New British Fascism: Rise of the British National Party. Routledge.
  • Goodwin, M., Ford, R. (2014). Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain. Routledge.
  • Kessel, S. V. (2015). Populist Parties in Europe: Agents of Discontent?. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Tetteh, E. (2009). "Electoral performance of the British National Party in the UK". House of Commons Library. [2]
  • Wilks-Heeg, St. (2009). "The Canary in a Coalmine? Explaining the Emergence of the British National Party in English Local Politics. Parliamentary Affairs. 62(3): 377-398.
  • Willis, J. R. (2011). Explaining the support of the British National Party in the 1999, 2004 and 2009 European Parliament Elections. Florida State University. M.A. Thesis.