British National Party
The British National Party or BNP is a British far-right populist and nationalist political party. It had two seats in the European Parliament (for North East England and Yorkshire & Humberside), but lost those in 2014. Between 2009 and 2012 it also lost most of the seats it held at the local level. It was founded in 1982 by the then National Front leader, John Tyndall.
The BNP is widely condemned by mainstream politicians, and has earned criticism from Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Sir Menzies Campbell. The police, military and prison services all bar serving members from being affiliated with the BNP, and there have been suggestions that similar provisions should be introduced for other public services including the fire service and for school teachers.
In 2008, the membership list of the BNP was leaked online containing the details of approximately 10,000 members of the Party. The list contains their names, addresses and often telephone and e-mail details, as well as their listed interests and often profession. There are many on the list who are under 18, and who are members through the BNP's family membership. At least one person on the list was a serving police officer who was promptly suspended. There are also civil servants, clergymen, members of the military, prison officers, and retirees from these professions.
In 2009, following a tremendous drop in support for the ruling Labour Party due to the perceived ineptitude of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the scandalous use of public funds by MPs of all three of the major parties, and the financial crisis, caused an uptick in support for the BNP and other non-mainstream parties in the European and local elections in June. The BNP managed to win two seats in the European Parliament - party leader Nick Griffin takes a seat as an MEP representing the North East region, while former National Front activist and British National Socialist party member Andrew Brons picked up a seat representing the Yorkshire and Humber region. New Labour health secretary Andy Burnham said that the election of the BNP to two seats "is a sad moment... We have got to understand why people have voted for the BNP. We should redouble our determination to take them on and take them out of British politics." Similar condemnations came from Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and the Conservative leader David Cameron - the latter saying that the BNP's election was "completely beyond the pale".
Following the election of two MEPs from the BNP, the BBC allowed Nick Griffin, the then leader, to appear on Question Time alongside politicians from the Labour (former Home Secretary Jack Straw), Liberal Democrat (home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne) and Conservative (shadow community cohesion minister Sayeda Warsi) parties as well as American-born black playwright and Deputy Chairman of the British Museum Bonnie Greer. Greer later described it as being "probably the weirdest and most creepy experience of my life". During the show, Griffin was quizzed on his views, and those of his party, on immigration, race, Islam (which Griffin describes as "wicked and vicious"), the article by Daily Mail journalist Jan Moir on the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately which many considered homophobic and hateful and caused a large number of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission. Jack Straw stated that the broadcast portrayed Griffin as a "fantasising conspiracy theorist with some very unpleasant views and no moral compass".
In 2010, after a legal ruling, the party changed its rules to allow non-white members, and a few joined.
- European election results 2009: BNP win two seats as Nick Griffin elected, The Telegraph, 7 June 2009
- European elections 2009: BNP successes 'horrific' say main parties, The Telegraph, 8 June 2009
- David Cohen, When Bonnie Greer met Nick Griffin, Evening Standard, 23 October 2009
- The Guardian, Griffin: Unfair that Question Time was filmed in 'ethnically cleansed' London, 23 October 2009