On Leadership and Success    
    Steven Smith speaks as one who should know    

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to all of us as individuals to recognise what those strengths and weaknesses are. This life-long learning process can sometimes be painful both physically and emotionally as we each strive to establish where our physical and psychological boundaries lie and the framework within which we will have to work to fulfil our true potential. In this respect the greater the degree of honesty and humility with oneself the easier should be the process of establishing the parameters within which one will have to work to help oneself to recognise what both one's strengths and weaknesses are, and which in my view is the key to self-fulfilment and self-realisation of one's full potential as a human being.

This recognition of honesty as a key to achieving one's full potential can also be applied to an organisation such as the BNP, the success of which I suggest is totally dependent on the preparedness of its members and activists, and especially its leader, to be honest enough to acknowledge, firstly their weaknesses so that they may be attended to and eliminated, and secondly their fears, so they might then be in a position to face them down and subsequently cross their personal Rubicons. This is made much easier, of course, when you have someone taking a lead and setting an example.

It would, of course, be very easy for people to dismiss what is being written here as psychological mumbo jumbo, and had it not been for the fact that Burnley BNP achieved what it did in just four short years in terms of becoming the most successful branch in the history of British Nationalism this dismissive theory might very well have been worth listening to. But the reality is that because we here in Burnley recognised these very simple truths, we succeeded, and on a scale never before seen. It really is that simple.

It is for this reason fundamentally that I do not believe Nicholas Griffin is suited to the job of leading the British National Party to political success. In my view Mr Griffin is fundamentally flawed and psychologically disfigured as a leader because he is predisposed to put himself first and the BNP second. He is consequently handicapped and disabled because of this, and unable to give all of himself because of this preoccupation.

Spoiling of a branch

Proof of this is seen quite clearly in his spoiling of Burnley BNP's progress, dissolving the role of organiser and taking Burnley's website off the net. All of this was on the basis of Burnley supposedly getting, as one of his colleagues put it: "too big for its boots"! Why then was the position of organiser reinstated and the website resurrected after the proverbial dust had settled? The reason was quite clear, Mr Griffin believed that Burnley's success might at some time be turned upon him and, being concerned for himself and his position as party leader, he saw fit to bring to a halt the very branch that was in the forefront of the BNP's drive for victory.

Mr Griffin, in my view, has very little or no humility, and is therefore unable to tap into that deep reservoir of strength and resourcefulness that each and every one of us has, but all too few of us are able to recognise. This, I am sorry to say, is a character flaw which exposes a lack of honesty, sincerity and integrity and therefore a lack of true and very deep-seated strength of character (humility is one of the many building blocks which help to define strength).

Mr Griffin is predisposed to back off from our enemies when it matters most. His very recent suggestion of admitting ethnic minorities to the BNP, for instance, in anticipation of nothing more than a pithy legal action sponsored by our sworn enemies is evidence of this. Mr Griffin's suggestion that a more liberal BNP would be more attractive to a greater mass of the general public is completely wrong and certainly at odds with our experiences here in Burnley. The only conclusion, therefore, that one is able to draw from this attempted watering down of nationalist principles is that Mr Griffin is attempting to make his own life easier and less onerous as the BNP grows in strength and the pressure on him increases to hold firm to the policies upon which the party was founded and the basis upon which BNP councillors have been elected.

Ingredients of success

Further to this, Burnley BNP achieved what it did in just four short years while we were technically still in possession of our 'nazi' baggage. In other words, it made absolutely no difference and might very well have helped us achieve what we did! The subsequent BNP council wins across the country have occurred in spite of, not because of, this liberalisation of policy, and has been due mainly to the hard work and dedication of the organisers and activists living in those areas. If Mr Griffin's watering down of BNP policies had any impact at all it was a negative one, and it certainly didn't begin to impact until well after we had our three, then eight, councillors elected. This for me is proof positive that it is strength, resolve, guts, drive and determination that we need, not fudge, indecision and weakness.

Spin and patter are the hallmarks of Mr Griffin's stewardship of the BNP, whether some like to hear this or not. Truth is all we have, truth is all that there is and we must acknowledge it. Before the recent European elections, the BNP web site stated that every household would receive a Freedom newspaper and that these were – quote – "already thundering off the presses." No such promise was kept. Further to this, the site predicted wins in these elections, sacrificing opportunities to win more council seats and wasting something like a quarter of a million pounds in the process. Again, Mr. Griffin was proved to be wrong.

His general election result in Oldham in 2001 was largely off the back of a riot. The evidence for that was seen quite clearly in his failure to assist the very hard-working organiser in that town in winning any council seats in the three years which followed. Burnley, I would like to mention, secured its general election result before its own particular riot and this was based upon a sincere and honest approach to the task of winning over the Burnley electorate. This is not vanity, it is the truth.

The point here is that I believe the leadership of the BNP is still living, as its personnel were in times past, in a world of virtual-reality nationalism where exaggeration and false promises took the place of sincerity and truth, and where allegiances were formed on the basis of financial benefit. These people's approach deceived in the process not only themselves but also the public, who are not quick to forget when they have been duped.

These were the reasons why Mr. Griffin had never been truly successful in all the years he had personally been involved in nationalism; and Burnley's success, I am afraid to say, taught him absolutely nothing. If Mr. Griffin is honest enough with himself and the rest of us, he will acknowledge the truth of these proclamations without reservation. These things I can say not because I have any personal axe to grind: I have none. I say them simply because I believe them to be true and have witnessed at first hand Mr. Griffin's predisposition to put himself rather than the party first. This is a failing that is very difficult, if not impossible, to correct, and it can only mean that our party can never truly fulfil its maximum potential as long as its destiny is tied to the personal ambitions, failings and weaknesses of its leader.

'A manager'

A brief exchange with a close confidant of Mr. Griffin's in 2002 confirmed to me my already growing suspicions of his preoccupation with money and self. "Nick wants to be a manager," he said. Being an accountant myself, I understood perfectly well the implications of this, and imagined Mr. Griffin doing nothing more than sitting back watching an unpaid and energetic national workforce generating lots of money while he and his hangers on 'managed' things. "Nick wouldn't mind if the BNP split, provided he could hang onto the rump of the membership." That was also doing the rounds at that time. Whether it was true or false, Mr. Griffin in my view is too much preoccupied with money and himself to be able to lead the BNP to victory. The BNP consequently will struggle to fulfil its true potential and will eventually become nothing more than a nationalist version of the Women's Institute.

I have said it many times before and I will say it again: money has its place but it is not essential to generating success. The winning of Burnley's total of 11 council seats in just a short four years, the tens of thousands of pounds of income this generated for the party in terms of donations and new members, the local political power and the self-generating free publicity were all achieved on a very tiny budget. Again without vanity, we can simply state the truth of these things. We achieved what we did off the back of work, dedication and courage, not money – which at present is in my view simply being raised and used to 'buy' the allegiance of those whom Mr Griffin regards as indispensable to maintaining his position as leader.

Steven Smith is the most successful branch organiser in the history of the British National Party, having overseen campaigns that resulted in the election of no less than eight party candidates to Burnley Borough Council. His book, How It Was Done: The Rise of Burnley BNP, can be obtained for £5.00 (inc. p&p) from: Cliviger Press, 7 Westview, Overtown, Cliviger, Burnley, Lancs. BB10 4TG.

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