You've probably read half a dozen 'why you shouldn't vote for the BNP on Thursday' articles and blog posts by now. You know about the foreign actors in the leaflets. You've heard about Nick Griffin saying there's no such thing as a black or Asian Briton. You've heard how he said that a big chunk of the England football team and Amir Khan aren't British. You've witnessed the embarrassing climbdown when he proved too much of a pariah to be welcome at the Queen's garden party. You know that life wouldn't be very nice for ethnic minorities if they got into power.
But here's the deal. You're not voting in a general election and you won't be putting them into power, so why shouldn't you register a protest and give the grasping main parties a bloody nose?
Two words, my friend. Richard Barnbrook.
Richard Barnbrook was elected to the London Assembly last May, probably off the back of lots of London protest voters keen to show the main parties what's what. His record in office shows him to be nothing short of a screeching embarrassment.
He has a blog over at the Daily Telegraph. There was a bit of a to do in the press back when he started, but there isn't much on the blog any more.
There's a week old announcement that he'll be making an announcement later in the day without any explanation of what that announcement would be (it was that Nick Griffin realised how much of an embarrassment he would have been at the Queen's garden party), a few forlorn pictures of him looking lonely at the World Cup launch event, some pictures of a sorry looking little group at the St George's Day celebrations, and that's about it. Given the opportunity to give us all the truth about the party that claims to be unfairly treated by the press, all we get are some depressing snaps and an announcement that something will be said somewhere else in the month leading up to an election. That's the best the party's most senior elected member can manage. Or maybe the best he's allowed to manage.
It wasn't always this way. The blog burst on the scene giving us a glimpse of exactly what the BNP think of democracy. In his second post, 'Blame the Immigrants' (which has now been deleted, but you can still access a copy here) Barnbrook called for a 100 strong mob to march on the Mayor's office with him and demand the army be sent on the streets to combat knife crime. Alright, no-one actually turned up - but still, that's a clear call for a mob to intimidate the Mayor into pretty much declaring martial law. Not a great start for the caring, sharing champions of free speech at the BNP. Which is no doubt why the post got yanked.
This caring, sharing, kid-gloves approach to politics is shared by Barnbrook's colleague at Barking and Dagenham Council and London candidate for the Euro elections, Robert Bailey, who turned up at the offices of the Barking and Dagenham Recorder with a group of people to shout abuse through a loudhailer at a journalist who had given him less than favourable coverage. So incensed was Bailey by negative media coverage, that in emails to BNP supporters he railed:
"It is my hope that British nationalists will keep a record of [the media's] war crimes and that the BNP will reign-in the media's power and make it clear to all news corporations that if they fail to exercise impartiality and especially if they advance the cause of Islamic jihad by distorting events and committing war crimes, then they will face the severest of punishments not solely confined to emptying their over-flowing coffers.A very reasonable approach to freedon of speech, I'm sure you'll agree. Incidentally, Bob is facing a drink driving charge right now.
The media are usurping the democratic process; they are destroying nations; they are maintaining the conflict in the Middle East and they are collaborating with jihadists, shilling for Islamic jihad in Great Britain and the west, an act of treason which simply must not go unpunished."
Barnbrook shares this approach, which is a nice bonus to add to the contempt shown for the democtratic process in 'Blame the Immigrants'. Last July, a Labour AM brought a petition to Mayor's Question Time. The Assembly were to vote on whether or not it should be passed on to the CPS. The Labour AM disagreed with the contents of the petition himself, but the decision of whether to pass it on was taken emocratically by the Assembly. Barnbrook shouted that there shouldn't even be a vote and that the 'politically correct monstrosity' should be ignored, giving an interesting insight into how you might expect a BNP representative to treat constituents' concerns. Don't even vote on them - just put them in the bin.
The blog post where Barnbrook boasts about this boorishness 'GLA and the Big Brother House' includes another couple of things that became a familiar sight on Barnbrook's blog - jumping on press bandwagons and producing videos that bear an interesting relation to the truth.
Of course, the most famous of these videos is the one that included the three murders he'd made up, leading him to a possible six month suspension. That one was to promote his 'London's Mothers Against Knives' petition, which he'd been using to latch on to the knife crime headlines and call for sanctions against black people. I'm not kidding.
In September he had to take part in Mayor's Question Time without having the cameras on him, because he was wearing a 'London's Mothers Against Knives' t-shirt. During the meeting, he called for the Notting Hill Carnival to be banned. He explained his rationale (such as it was) in 'Smile - we've all just been mugged' (geddit? We've just been mugged - because the post is about black people being given money - that's choice) he explains:
Perhaps my question to Boris Johnson should demand an explanation as to why for instance the Notting Hill Carnival cannot, likewise, be suspended until the African Carribean community learns to control its violent and aggressive young men.This is after opening with talk about black people being responsible for knife crime.
The people signing his petition can't have known he'd be using it to call for what he saw as collective punishment of black people. Indeed, they might have thought the were signing a petition for Mothers Against Knives - a completely separate organisation who were horrified to see their name being used by the BNP.
Unsurprisignly, this wasn't the only time he's used misleading figures to attack black people. In November he was told off for using completely wrong and misleading figures to suggest that the number of stop and searches of black people had dropped while the number for white people had risen. In fact, the number had risen for both groups.
But again, using press headlines and a skewed view of the truth to attack black people is something you'd have to become familiar with if the BNP gain a seat in the EU Parliament. In the comments on one of Barnbrook's blog posts, I jokingly suggested he should jump on the swine flu bandwagon and blame that on black people. Two days later, the Mirror reported in 'BNP accused of using swine flu to push its far-right views' that:
Barnbrook, 48, [...] claimed the illness could come from "the countries of Africa", not Mexico.Nice.
If the contempt for democracy, attraction to mob aggression, lying and tissue-thinly disguised racism aren't enough for you - how does looking like an absolute tit grab you?
In his first Mayor's Question Time, Barnbrook was told off for eating a banana. In his second, he engaged in a bit of embarrassing shouting (demanding that the petition I mentioned earlier be ignored) before being chastised and told 'read the papers in front of you, Mr Barnbrook'. In his third, while suffering the embarrassment of having to contribute without being covered by the cameras and after confusingly slurring his way through a rant about the Notting Hill Carnival, Boris Johnson - in one of the very few things he's ever done that I actually liked - replied with:
'In the words of the famous Australian judge who said, "That, ladies and gentlemen, was the case for the prosecution,"' [Holds nose and makes a toilet flushing motion].In October, he wrote 'More Progress at Mayor's Question Time', in which he claimed a lot of things had happened that hadn't. I went through them one by one.
In fact, he seems to embarrass himself in one way or another all over the place. He doesn't mention the last Question Time at all on his blog - probably a wise move, since it was the one where Boris Johnson told him off for inviting Nick Griffin to the Queen's garden party. February's shows Boris making Barnbrook look like a tit because of his crap knowledge of British history - something of a handicap for an 'I'm more Britisher than you are' numpty.
And on, and on back to his inaugural speech when members of other parties left the stage at his arrival, causing him to sneer, 'like rats leaving a...[looks confused]...whatever,' because he realised halfway through that he couldn't call the Assembly a sinking ship - not least because that would imply he'd caused it to start sinking (well done, Lumpy. Give yourself a lolly).
The party itself is so incompetent that if you Google Barnbrook's flagship campaign 'London's Mothers Against Knives', you won't find any official website at the top of the list. You'll find my post on this blog where I outline how misleading and dishonest it is.
The party's incredibly pisspoor attempt to target children echoed their awful leaflets by being made with a puppet imported from abroad and available for anyone to buy. Which Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads did, and made two videos that are not only better produced than the BNP's originals (and bloody funny, by the way), but are approaching the top search placings for Billy Brit and seem to have made the party delete their entire Billy Brit account. Here's the link to the first Billy Brit. And here's the link to Billy Brit II. (Keep your eye out for a third, which Tim is working on now).
If you're voting in a local election - do you really want some one like this representing your interests? Sure, you might want to tell the main parties they're a bunch of cheating bastards - so vote Green or something. Vote someone who doesn't represent a bunch of gurning fools.
If you've only got the EU elections to look forward to - imagine a goon like this representing Britain. Even if you don't like the European Union, would you really want to give the impression that the British people actually want to be represented by someone like this? Do you really want them to believe we're like that?
If you don't care - and you're not some racist who doesn't give a stuff about using made up figures and misleading petitions to call for collective punishment against black people, or some fascist who thinks free speech is only for people who agree with you, and you really care so little about Britain's reputation that you actually don't mind if people abroad think morons like this represent us - there's one more reason not to vote for them.
If they gain any seats, they stand to earn £250,000 a year over the next five years for each one. You'll be voting to give these people over a million quid to spend on more fancy campaigns and field more candidates than before. Campaigns that might not be so crap as to use foreign actors while calling for 'British jobs for British workers'. Ones that might more successfully gloss over their obvious nastiness. Ones that might actually work and get even more of them elected and able to extend the practice of calling for punishment of minorities based on misleading stats and weird assumptions.
They don't even have to have that much power to do affect our politics. All they have to do is create the impression that large numbers of people support them and the main parties will shift ever rightward to meet what the BNP want.
You might pick up your paper one morning to find that the group they're after that day includes you.
Because they're not just funny, here's Billy Brit: