On 19/7/14, party leader for 15 years Nick Griffin “stepped aside at a meeting of the BNP National Executive” and “has taken up the position of President”. While he has attempted to place a positive spin on this, the reality is rather different. While it is not normal NFB (Notes From the Borderland) policy to comment on passing events, preferring to deal with underlying trends and unexplored things of lasting importance, I make an exception here not just because of Griffin’s historic situation as the most successful UK fascist leader ever (Mosley included) but also due to the idiotic political/media commentary that has already begun, and will no doubt multiply. Furthermore, the fact Griffin has decided (for now) to publicly support his replacement means there is nobody other than NFB with the wherewithal (and intent) to get at the truth. Hence this little snippet of analysis. I will briefly look at three areas, and then be done. First, long and short-term reasons for his departure. Second, assessment of whether it is a feint or not (ie is Griffin still in control remotely?), a proposition advanced by the idiots at Hope Not Hate. Finally, how will his standing aside affect the BNP?
WHY GRIFFIN WENT
1) The BNP’s membership continues to decline: while the 2014 Account submission (with membership figures covering 2013) has only been made available to the selected few and is not so far on the Electoral Commission web-site, it soon will be. The previous accounts confirm the downward trend: 7.651 members at the end of 2011, 4,872 at the end of 2012  .
2) The May 2014 European Elections were a disaster for the BNP as a whole: their national vote reduced from 6.3% in 2009 to 1.1%, and for Griffin personally: his North West vote down from 8% to 1.9%. The BNP lost all deposits, while Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale (among others) was spectacularly successful, with 25% of the vote becoming the leading French party vote-wise. Griffin himself accepts many members blamed him for this reversal, and while disagreeing, accepts “that in politics, perception can matter every bit as much as reality”  . Indeed: and the perception of many North West BNP members was that Griffin barely tried to retain his seat anyway.
3) Griffin has always advocated a combination of street and electoral politics, and it is fair to say many members were disquieted by this, fearing it is too similar to the provocations practised formerly by the English Defence League, and now by Britain First. A point I return to.
4) On 3rd January 2014, Griffin was declared bankrupt due to unpaid legal bills of £120,000, something he put a brave face on. This was not viewed with equanimity by the voting members, who in Blackpool on 23/2/14 voted to alter the constitution, removing the provision that the BNP would continue to indemnify the Chairman (Griffin) against future legal challenges and fiscal impositions. A real possibility given his bankruptcy. This was not reported on the web-site, or even the member’s bulletin  . From this moment, the writing was on the wall.
5) Never one to avoid political flirtation, Griffin has become increasingly close to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn recently, something obliquely confirmed by two You-Tube videos, the first of which is on the BNP web-site (at least until this article goes online). These are ‘Nick Griffin & Golden Dawn MPs’ 10/1/14, and his firm defence of Golden Dawn on US station CCTV 15/4/14 for example. Could it be that a paid position with them is on the cards? Is this what Griffin means by his plan to “build a pan-European campaign for peace”  . Time will tell: in the meanwhile, we should all beware ‘Greeks bearing job-offers’….
6) Added to these powerful factors undermining Griffin, there was a final recent catalyst. This is the very recently declared intention to move party administration from Cumbria to Nuneaton, under the nominal auspices of National Elections Officer Alwyn Deacon. This, it is fair to say, went down like a lead balloon. Indeed, two Regional Organisers: Gary Tumulty (North West) and Geoff Dickens (East Midlands) were, I understand, mandated to vote for a no confidence motion in Griffin at the National Executive meeting on Saturday. That Griffin actually stepped aside during the meeting, rather than before (or after) strongly indicates this was not a “constructive discussion between the entire collective leadership”. Or if it was, a non-constructive discussion would be very entertaining indeed…
IS IT JUST A SHAM?
Ever behind the curve, Carl Morphett of Hope Not Hate (using the pseudonym Simon Cressy for reasons only he knows) has weighed in stating “what isn’t clear at the moment is if Griffin will still hold the reins of power or if he has truly handed over the party to Walker…This is not thought to be a split within the ranks of the BNP and is thought to be face-saving exercise by Nick Griffin”  . In only one respect is Morphett right: Griffin does not have the support to organise a counter-coup currently, his main ally of significance being Alwyn Deacon. However it is clear Griffin has been sidelined :At this point a correction: the first version of this article confused his own twitter account following 99 twitter-feeds with the revised twitter account address of nickjgriffinbnp which still has 29,000 plus followers. Glad to clarify. As for the BNP web-site, bnp.org.uk, this has always been owned by Heritage Content Management Limited, and still is. Clive Jefferson owns 51%, Griffin’s son-in-law Angus Matthys 49%. Which means, therefore, that in the current situation now Jefferson has abandoned Griffin, the latter does not have majority control via his family. This was obliquely confirmed by a (secret) change to the WHOIS details for bnp.org.uk implemented 21/7/14. I strongly surmise this is part of an overall trend: Griffin’s daughter Jenny Matthys (currently on maternity leave), her husband Angus, and Nick’s wife Jenny, will all have been removed from control of any financial matters. Thus, Griffin is not still in power: indeed it is significant that the ‘President’ as yet has no powers specified, and nor do I think will the BNP be in any hurry to specify any.
EFFECTS ON THE BNP
For some time now, Griffin has been a politically dead man walking, but this should not blind us to the strategic breakthrough he made in far right politics. Despite his European dalliances (and those closer to home with CI8/Blood & Honour in the past) he has never been a Nazi, seeking to develop a non-Nazi fascism that combined both electoralism and extra-parliamentary politics. Sadly for him (though not anti-fascism) he could never convince enough BNP members of the nuances and salience of this strategy. The development of paid officials inevitably meant the organisation attracted dullards time-servers and shysters rather than visionaries. More on that later, elsewhere. The strategic problem for Griffin’s unique political brand was he never developed either a committed BNP cadre in tune with it, or a credible successor who might be.
Replacing him with Adam Walker was hardly a good move, PR-wise. The Independent, in a line I suspect many others will follow, described him as “a former teacher banned from the profession for life…struck off…in 2013 after he admitted verbally abusing three pupils and slashing their bike tyres with a knife”  . Certainly, Griffin has a record too: but for things that can be construed as political in a way Walker’s offence cannot. Or at least won’t be.
That the BNP has serious problems does not mean that we should give any credence to the facile poll question sent by Nick Lowles to those on the Hope Not Hate begging (email) list on 22-7. Specifically 'Does Nick Griffin's resignation mean the end of the far right in Britain?'. It certainly doesn't, and the political and historical illiteracy intrinsic to this rhetorical question we should pay no attention to. Even aside from the fact that HNH were recently touting UKIP as the main far right outfit: though that was two months ago, an aeon in the shifting sands of internet polling. Let us be in no doubt: as long as capitalism (and politics) persist, the possibility of a far right resurgence is there. There are enough strategic insights that future fascists can gain from examining Griffin's legacy to mean that for anti-fascists, the price of liberty remains eternal vigilance....
1) Breaking News: New Chairman to lead BNP’ www.bnp.org.uk 21/7/14
2) BNP Statement of Accounts Year Ended 31/12/2012 p.9
3) ‘BNP Leadership: A personal statement by Nick Griffin’ www.bnp.org.uk 21/7/14
4) British Nationalist February 2014 p.1-2 sketchily reports the conference, but not this motion.
5) BNP Leadership: A personal statement by Nick Griffin’ www.bnp.org.uk 21/7/14
6) ‘Nick Griffin Steps Down as BNP Chairman’ hopenothate.org.uk 21/7/14
7) The Independent on-line (Cahal Milmo) 21/7/14