I met Tim Rait, the parliamentary candidate for Henley on polling day to report on the reception of the BNP by the people of Henley. He had been delayed meeting me at the station because, he told me, people would recognise him on the streets and stop him to shake his hand and chat. Another candidate, a Dr Richard Rogers of the Common Good Party had detained him for a friendly conversation and had wished him well.
Tim Rait is the poshest BNP candidate I have yet met, retired from shipping and marine insurance. There is something deeply reassuring about this English gentleman of the old school - tall, grey-haired, distinguished, who looked as if he could have been the MP for Henley in a more genteel era, and more my idea of an old-fashioned Conservative candidate than the Conservative candidate himself, John Howell.
He showed me his election address in the Henley Standard. Over-development, local democracy, Euroscepticism, more “human rights” for victims of crime than their perpetrators and lower taxes were the issues he was campaigning on. There was nothing about immigration. It was in fact Tim who was the originator of the unashamedly populist idea of a £15,000 threshold for paying income tax in the BNP mini-manifesto.
I met Andy McBride (the local organiser, ex-Navy and ex-civil service, a refugee from New Labour, a descendent of Major General Sir Henry Havelock http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Havelock and also related to Henry Havelock Ellis, the sexologist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havelock_Ellis) at Henley Town Hall, the first polling station we visited.
“If the Conservatives still had Conservative principles, there would be no need for us, would there?” Andy said in response to my comment that the Conservatives did not appear to be interested in saying or doing anything that might have been inspired by a conviction or a principle, which might explain the increasing support for the BNP. The entire Tory strategy is backed by PR minimalism and blandification: "Avoid controversy. Do nothing. It will only be a matter of time before people get tired of Party X and vote for you, Party Y again. Why the rock the boat by saying or promising anything? The suckers know they haven't got a choice!"
However, frustration at the moral vacuum that is the "compassionate Conservatism" and the waiting game the Tories are playing has made the BNP the favoured choice of a stick with which to beat the Lib-Lab-Con.
Andy's role was to accompany Tim with a minder to see that he did not come to any harm should any member of the public “get cross with us”.
The LibDem and Tory tellers outside the Town Hall shook hands with Tim when he introduced himself and offered his. I commented on this and Andy said that people were often welcoming. The grassroots Conservatives were usually sympathetic and the LibDems, being true to their liberal ideals, stuck to their convictions of free speech and freedom of belief. In short, overt hostility had been rare on the campaign, though a member in his 70s was recently assaulted when leafleting.
A minority of “ignorant people” (white, I was told) would shout abuse, he said, and the BNP rarely have trouble with ethnics whose fear and loathing of them is not usually as exaggerated as that of the indigenous “anti-fascists”.
The next stop was the polling station at Trinity Church in Harpsden Road. The LibDem teller was stand-offish but the Tory one bantered with Tim cheerfully.
Onwards to Sonning Common where Tim had to ask directions at a garage. Would he take his rosette off, I wondered, in case this caused some opponents of the BNP to deliberately misdirect him? But Tim said no, they had been perfectly civil and helpful, though he would usually carry a folder that would cover his rosette if circumstances required this.
A middle aged and wide-girthed lady of foreign origin in a revealing top and short skirt came up to Tim and Andy while I was chatting to the minder. There was conversation, followed by a burst of laughter. I asked Tim later if she had said anything of interest and was told the woman’s intentions were exclusively flirtatious.
On our way to the very picturesque village of Ewelme, I learnt that Tim obtained permission to leaflet RAF Benson, pulled off no doubt by his air of unimpeachable respectability.
Being a quiet little village, only one solitary elderly Tory teller sat outside doing the Mail on Sunday crossword when we arrived. She shook the BNP hands proffered then said that she could not agree with them. She was Jewish and had "a problem" with their reputation for being anti-semitic. Andy assured her that the BNP already has Jewish councillors and indeed welcomes Jewish members. The only people they had a problem with was the political classes of his own race. There followed a discussion about colour and citizenship. Concerned as she was by immigration, it remained her position that she did not care what colour they were as long as they were good citizens. Andy made a comment to me which suggested that he did not quite agree and may or may not have suggested that she was a race traitor. [My notes are silent on this exchange but my memory tells me that this was the gist of his meaning. If Andy is reading this, he may wish to remind me of what he said exactly!]
To the Star and Garter in Thame for lunch when I had the opportunity to ask Andy what made him join the BNP. When he suggested that immigration should be stopped for five years, an "anti-fascist" fellow trade-unionist said to him: “Then why don’t you join the f*cking BNP?” And so he did.
A telphone interview I had with John Chapman, an ex-SAS supporter in his 70s:
“The BNP is the only party to spread the right word to the British people”, he said. He did not believe he was being racist by supporting the BNP, but there were “too many people from abroad claiming benefits. How long can it go on for? This country, a small island, is being abused, and enough is enough.” He was tired of Britain being treated as “the Mecca of easy money” and there must be “millions who think like this”. “Some dramatic change” is required to combat the scourge of Political Correctness.
I have no doubt that similar versions of the above are being expressed up and down the country from all ages, classes and races. These views are routinely dismissed by our political classes, who then point out that such views belong to the BNP and the complainants should henceforth remain silent, should they wish to remain free of the social leprosy that comes with being thus associated. More often than not now, it seems, people are no longer afraid to be thus associated, and join with a sense of pride, defiance, prepared for martyrdom while enjoying the greater solidarity of the BNP in contrast to constant in-fighting that takes place within UKIP.
Onwards to the John Hampden Primary School in Thame when he emerged from the polling station very pleased with himself for having acquired a sweetly smiling Japanese lady who was introduced to me. She was from the Legislative Bureau of the House of Representatives and had been sent by the Japanese government to observe how elections were conducted in Britain. She had even heard of the BNP. No one was interested in politics in Japan either, she said. While they did not have a problem with immigration, the great debate now in Japan is whether to have a welfare state. Of course, she said, everyone wants a welfare state but without the higher taxes that come with it. It would be the kiss of death to Japanese society, I thought, but said nothing. The moment they embraced welfarism, the Japanese would become too lazy to work and their country would fill up with resented foreigners allowed in to take up jobs unwanted by those preferring to claim benefit. The EU and US are perfect illustrations of this social and economic inevitability.
Our last stop was Christmas Common. There were two BNP tellers present – a biker and a good-humoured lady who told Andy exactly how many times the Tory and Lib Dem tellers had been relieved while they had not been, not even once, since polling began.
The biker and I were agreed that all anti-discrimination legislation should be repealed. If we want to have the right to discriminate against others for any reason whatsoever then we ought to accept that others have the right to discriminate against us, fairly and unfairly.
We discussed amongst other things the horror that is the BNP party constitution, designed to deal with opponents and infiltrators, it was pointed out. All members should be given a copy of the party constitution the moment they join, he added, but they are not. Those who do acquire and read it later find it rather disturbing if not actually Stalinist and for this reason it is no longer online officially, but it can be found at http://www.thenationalparty.org.uk/constbnp
The draft constitution of my ideal party can be found at
Andy very kindly gave me a lift to the station after this. I put it to him that the colour bar was self-limiting to any political party. Excising s 1(2)(a) and (b) and s 2(1) and (2) of the party constitution would be the only way of dealing once and for all with the charge of racism. Once this question is dealt with more ex-UKIP supporters would be attracted. Ideally, both merging to become the Fourth Big Party in the UK with members already in the Upper and Lower House would be the quickest way to political influence. It is precisely this undeniable connection with racism which frightens most people and makes even its members uncomfortable and confused about whether they are in fact racist. Some of them deny that they are, others embrace the term. There are those who wish to retain the colour bar at any cost, and those who see the lifting of it as a sign that the party has finally grown up. The Labour Party after all was elected after clause iv was amended. These two events are not entirely unconnected.
From a Libertarian standpoint, such as mine, there can be no denying that white people have a right to have to exclude anyone they wish from a party for people like themselves, but is it helpful to the cause of British nationalism to impose such self-limiting restrictions on one’s support base, I asked.
There is no reason why an all white club cannot exist within a political party, open only to white members while also conferring equal rights for non-whites to do the same, if they wished to, I would have thought.
The BNP Ethnic Liaison Committee is run mainly by the ethnic spouses of white members. To my knowledge the wife of one such member has pointedly refused to help because she saw the implicit second class status of being on the Ethnic Liaison Committee. Being a member of that Committee is on par with being a woman with associate member status in a gentlemen's club or golf club. It is interesting that many refuse to see that being given a lower status rankles, and is provably racist in its assumption that only members of a white race can be a British nationalist, when we all know that, whatever you think of nationalism, it is a state of mind capable of being acquired, not your genetic inheritance over which you had no choice and cannot change.
Whether one feels a member of a group depends on whether he is accepted. Whether he is accepted entirely depends on whether the others are prepared to accept him.
It seems that Islam, armed as it is with the internationalist and global concept of “umma” and “backed” by God, will always have the edge on British nationalism, particularly if a British national is so self-limitingly defined by race, instead of being a state of mind capable of being acquired.
Andy and I then discussed the definition of a "Briton" (indigenous white, according to him) and its difference from being merely "British" (which is anyone holding a British passport).
"Briton" is defined in Chambers as "one of the Brythonic inhabitants of Britain before the coming of the English, or one of the present representatives of the Welsh: a native or citizen of Great Britain or one of its associated states: a Breton"
It can be seen that Andy's definition is open to question, and it is a great shame that a party that is meant to promote nationalism (which I would define as "any ideology that aspires to promotes the well-being and solidarity of citizens so that the nation is thereby strengthened") remains as keen as ever to support the divisive idea of officially maintaining a sense otherness between races, even while knowing that it would harm the chances of their party from becoming more successful and influential.
It is surely not enough that the BNP is doing better than before, but must do as well as it possibly can, to have a voice in the affairs of the nation sooner rather than later, particularly when so many for quite a while now have been happy to say that they like the sound of most BNP policies.
Strange, then, that there are many within the party who are bent on preventing just this from happening by insisting on a divisive colour bar that leaves them vulnerable to accusations of racism - the bête noire of our age.
Vote: Should the BNP continue its policy of preventing non-whites from joining as full members?
What do YOU think?