|New Party A Non-Starter||Forget the dreams and fantasies - it is the BNP or nothing|
ALL THIS has been said before, but it is clear that it needs saying again and again and again. The formation of a new party is no solution to the problems besetting nationalism in Britain, and in particular the British National Party.
The new-party issue has raised its head again in recent months, whereas all past experience and common sense should have buried it once and for all. And what is disconcerting is that so many of those raising it are people who more or less see eye to eye with me on what is wrong with things as they are in the BNP. I believe that this new party talk is utterly destructive and suicidal, and must be opposed vigorously whenever and wherever it raises its head. By stating this here, I expect I shall upset a number of people whom I regard as my friends and who, at least on the strength of their declarations, are my supporters. It nevertheless has to be said. As long as we waste our energies talking and dreaming about new parties, we are distracting ourselves from the essential job at hand, which is to put right what is wrong in the only party on the British scene through which anything of political value can be achieved: the BNP.
Let us briefly look at the arguments in favour of a new nationalist party so that they can be appropriately demolished and consigned to the dustbin. I think I am in perhaps a uniquely good position to answer those arguments because in 48 years of involvement in nationalist politics I have been a participant in the formation of new parties on no fewer than three occasions, while on several other occasions being a witness to others forming them. I speak here, of course, of new parties formed as a result of breakaways from existing parties, not of those formed by merging together parties that were previously separate. The latter is a constructive process, the former only ever a destructive one.
Arguments in favour
But what of the arguments? In the current situation they amount basically to these: the BNP has been taken over by people who are leading it in a wholly wrong direction, away from genuine nationalism and towards a kind of right-wing conservatism; these people are not in nationalist politics for genuine reasons but only for self-serving ones; and most pertinent of all, they are so firmly entrenched in the BNP that there is no possibility of removing them and taking the party back.
I do not accept the latter supposition but I will leave it aside for the moment and return to it later in this article. Let us right now focus solely on the practicalities of forming a new party by way of a breakaway from the BNP, and of making it successful.
Such success, it must be presumed, could come from drawing away from the BNP, bit by bit, most if not all of its member support, so that the BNP is left eventually with almost nothing and the new party takes the bulk of its former members and in due course becomes the dominant organisation within the nationalist spectrum, in effect superseding the BNP in that role.
Well, straightaway I must state that this simply would not happen. I know because I have been there many times, on occasion as one of the new party pioneers but more often as an opponent of the process and forced to watch the folly of others - and in the end their predictable and inevitable failure.
The one exception to this rule of failure that might be cited is the example of the BNP itself. It was formed in 1982 as a breakaway; from the National Front. What happened the following years was instructive as an example of what almost invariably result when parties split. A significant number members followed us out of the NF and supported our new venture. However, an also significant number stayed with the Front. These included many who actually agreed with us over what was wrong in the NF and would have preferred our faction to lead and determine policy. However, their institutional loyalty got the better of them and decided them to stay put. Just as many patriot supports his country even when knows that it is wrong, so these people stood by the NF notwithstanding that they disagreed with its leaders over the issues that divided us.
But there were more than just two factions that emerged out of this conflict there was a third. This consisted of the numbers of people, again significant, who took no side. They did not stay with the Front, but neither did they come with us. They simply dropped out in demoralisation, disillusionment, disgust and despair. They hated the quarrelling and just wished it would end and everybody kiss and make up. Unrealistic perhaps. Naive? Undoubtedly. But the unrealistic and the naive nevertheless are human factors that have to be taken into account in every calculation of which way people will move politically. Too often leaders of enterprises have failed to do so formulating their plans.
Among these people there was also, course, the element of opportunism. Many decided that they would just wait to see who won, and then come down on the winning side - a phenomenon which we have seen exist right up to the present in the convulsions in today's BNP. The political attitudes and motivations of these people are hardly admirable, but they have to be recognised a reality.
A split: what would happen?
If the BNP were now split by the formation of a new party by dissident elements within it, exactly the same thing would happen. The dissidents might protest a thousand times over that they were physically and morally in the right. It would not alter the dispositions of the battlefield, which are determined by human nature - and, to no small degree by considerations of power.
We who formed the BNP in 1982 soon learned these truths, if we had not had a fairly strong intimation of them when we started. It was not long before we recognised that there would be a hard and long slog, extending over several years, before one action or the other - and we naturally hoped it would be our faction - would emerge clearly the stronger and more successful and thus draw most of the stragglers with it by virtue of this strength and success.
In the outcome, it was not until the early 1990s - almost a decade later - that the BNP could be seen very clearly to have eclipsed the National Front and asserted itself as the leader of British Nationalism. But even then that did not result in the Front folding up and the remaining members coming over to us. The National Front is still in existence today, albeit as a mere shadow of the party it had once been in its heyday of the 1970s. All good sense would dictate that it disband and at its followers join the BNP, but good sense does not always carry the day in the complex and enigmatic world of politics. In effect, the division that occurred in the NF in the early 198Os never healed. This very month we are 23 years on from that destructive moment. Do we have another 23 years or even another ten years - in which we can afford to fight out a new factional conflict in which these events repeat themselves?
Still smaller than the old Front
And there is another thing of which we should take careful account. Notwithstanding that the BNP emerged the victor in its split with the National Front, and notwithstanding its recent very welcome election successes (achieved in a political climate immeasurably more favourable to nationalism that that of 25-30 years ago), it is still a fact that our party has not yet grown to a size of membership comparable to that of the Front in the late 1970s.
I have focused on this particular episode because it was the foremost, and by far the most important, among the many splits and breakaways that have occurred in British Nationalism over the past half-century. The lessons derived from it should be drilled into our minds so firmly and ineradicably that we never set out on that course again.
It even invites the question: would an alternative course have been possible in 1982? Could the differences within the National Front at that time have been better resolved by our continuing in the party and thrashing them out by internal means? All this long time afterwards, I cannot pretend to have an absolutely firm answer to that question. In the case of that conflict, what happened happened, and it is too late to go back. But we can resolve that it will never happen again. Time anyway simply does no permit a re-enactment of the struggle for primacy between the two factions that parted company back in 1982.
And exactly the same process would undoubtedly occur if the BNP were split today and a new party formed by its presently dissident elements, in other words ourselves. Many who might sympathise with our arguments would stay with the status quo out of institutional loyalty, even if they were not enamoured of the present leadership and its somersaults in policy. Likewise, many would take a neutral position, drop out altogether or just sit tight until they had seen who came out on top. Nationalism as a whole would be devastated, and this would be a huge boon to the phoney patriots of UKIP, now supplemented by Robert Kilroy Silk's Veritas party. It would also be very welcome news to the Tories.
Other new party ventures
Of course, the NF-BNP split has not been the only one to have occurred over the period we have studied. The first split that I ever experienced was one in which I was a major participant. This occurred in 1958, when a group of dissidents in what was then the League of Empire Loyalists broke away to form the National Labour Party. I shared with other NLP founders the strong criticisms of the running of the League that led to that split, and I have continued to do so until this day. But I have long believed, with the coming of more mature judgement, that the decision to split was wrong. Actually, within a year or two of this occurrence the new organisation could probably have claimed more active members than the old one, and could thus be said to have won. But that would have proved little in the way of real practical politics. Both groups were but tiny specks on the political horizon in Britain, no more than a nuisance to the powers that were.
Ironically, nine years later the two main adversaries and most of their followers in this conflict came together with the formation of the National Front in 1967, with former LEL chairman A.K. Chesterton made leader. So what had the intervening nine years accomplished? To me they had proved colossal waste of time and effort - with only a legacy of bitter lessons learned in how things should not be done.
And there were many similar adventures. The same man who split the LEL in 1958 to form the NLP then split its successor organisation, the earlier British National Party, four years later in 1962. I was an unwilling participant in this split. For some five years the remnants of the split carried on in mutual hostility and rivalry until most of them came back together in the newly formed NF. Again, more wasted effort and more mutual bitterness, with enemies looking on in amusement and delight.
Yet more splitting
When the Front was formed in 1967 this happened by a process completely opposite to the general trend. It came about through a merger of previously separate organisations - a wholly positive step. Some of us naively thought that this signalled an end to the splintering tendency. Nationalism in Britain we thought, had grown up. But it was not to be. In 1972 there was an attempt to split the NF through the formation of a breakaway group calling itself the National Independence Party. The Nippers, as some of us called them, lasted about a year, after which they were gone and mostly forgotten. Then in 1976 the splitters were at it again. This time the new organisation was called the National Party. That experienced a similar fate. But some people hadn't learned. At the end of 1979 there was yet another attempt to split the NF after an unsuccessful takeover bid aimed at displacing me as leader. Here there were actually two breakaway groups, one calling itself the National Front Constitutional Movement and the other the National Democratic Party. But within a comparatively short time both these new ventures had gone the same way as all the others. They were not seen nor heard of again.
There was one thing that all these splits had in common, and it is important that we learn this. At the end of the day, the political, ideological and theoretical arguments dividing the warring parties were irrelevant. What decided the issue was a simple matter of power - power and leadership. Where the latter was concerned, the men who eventually ended up on top were not those who were politically or ideologically right; they were the ones with the greater capabilities, the greater will, determination and commitment, and the superior awareness of the power factors that would decide the issue. In all these cases the final outcome was that the splits failed. The parent organisation survived and the breakaways sooner or later fizzled out. The new parties flopped and the original parties carried on, albeit invariably greatly weakened by the bloodletting that had occurred. No one gained except the enemies of nationalism.
And with regard to the latter truth, the same could be said of the one case where a breakaway movement - a new party emerged stronger and more successful than the one from which it had split. I mean of course the outcome of the NF-BNP split in 1982. Again, only the enemies of nationalism profited.
It will therefore perhaps be understandable to many that when I hear current talk recommending new parties I am tempted to groan in despair. Has the history of the past 40-50 years of the nationalist movement in Britain taught us nothing? It would seem that some are just unwilling ever to be taught. They persist throughout their lives going on making the same old mistakes. Are we now doomed to see a re-run of this? Not if l have any say in it!
Behind the new-party drive
What drives people to form new parties. There are three factors present. In previous articles I have focused on the role of state security services, which infiltrate agents into radical organisations in order to promote internal quarrelling and division. Undoubtedly such people have played a major role in encouraging the formation of splinter groups.
Secondly, there is the factor of personal egotism. Individuals with modest positions in larger organisations are attracted to smaller ones because they give greater scope for ambition and allow such people to be "big fishes in little ponds."
Thirdly, it is still true to say that a considerable majority of those who take part in the formation of splinter parties do so for perfectly honourable reasons. The trouble is that they simply have not thought through thoroughly enough the consequences of their actions. In addition to this, they tend to be people who react emotionally to situations. They feel like doing something, so they do it and to hell with the consequences! Personal emotion is the worst possible criterion for the making of political decisions which could have very serious consequences, yet there are many who persist in letting their judgement be shaped in that way.
I have found that a major factor in inducing people to flirt with the idea of leaving the party they are in and joining another one is a simple lack of self discipline. They do not seem capable of understanding, much less accepting, that in the world of politics one must at times put up with situations one doesn't like and dealing with people to whom one would not give the time of day if one had the luxury of private choice. I am perhaps in as good a position as any to testify to the wrongness of this attitude and to urge people to take what could be called a more transcendent view. In quite recent times I have submitted myself, not once but twice in the course of sixteen months, to the distasteful experience of being carpeted on ridiculous disciplinary charges by Mr. Tony Lecomber, a man for whom I have the utmost personal contempt. I did so because I knew that I was in a war in which it was vital to keep a cool head and act in the most practical way rather than the way dictated by one's feelings. The particular objective in the war in this case was to drum me out of the BNP. My only practical course of action against this was redress in the courts of law. I would stand no chance of getting a court to listen to my case had I not first gone through the required disciplinary process as laid down in the party constitution, which meant attending a quite ridiculous trial in which Mr. Lecomber would have the enormous satisfaction of subjecting me to every indignity he could. In these situations, when one is dealing with people like him, one has to allow them their hour or two of inflated self-importance in order to accomplish the necessary object in the exercise.
Unfortunately this self-discipline does not always rule people's actions, and rash moves are made which in the final outcome prove counter-productive. I have to say that a very significant part of the drive by people towards forming splinter parties comes from thinking emotionally when they should remain ice-cool.
Leadership a first requirement
Another symptom of the tendency not to think things through in a logical and methodical way is the inclination to rush into starting up new parties without giving any really serious thought to the question of who is to lead them, and whether there is in fact anyone available and willing with the capabilities to do so at a level that would enable the new party in question to become nationally credible. Such parties seem to be perceived as little private gangs rather than serious political movements with the personnel, organisation and resources to operate effectively on the national political scene.
I recall being inveigled, in the days of my political youth, into supporting just such a venture which clearly was undertaken in this atmosphere. The chief motivator always acknowledged to people close to him that he did not see himself as a national leader, but he went ahead in the hope that such a person would emerge and take over as things went on. In fact he did have someone in mind for this role, who looked and talked the part. However, that someone turned out in the outcome to have feet of clay. He was never interested in playing anything more than dilettante role in the party that was formed while leaving his admirers to do virtually all the practical work. I say this as someone who actually had quite a liking for him, while being painfully aware of his personal limitations. The point to be made here is that no one is of the slightest use in leading a political party unless, apart from any external qualities such as charisma, intellect or the gift of the gab, he has the real motivation and drive to push the party through to success. You do not find leadership by forming something and then inviting the hoped-for leader to come in and take it over. If that person any kind of leader he would be the one to take the first step. His would be the drive an initiative to activate things.
If there is not currently any person in Britain with these qualifications who is prepared to initiate a new party and take on the main burden of running it, there simply isn't going to be any new party capable of getting anywhere - whatever its theoretical merit may be and whatever the good intentions those who favour the idea. That is the de facto situation that exists at the present time and so there just is no point in continuing argue about the matter.
Need for patience
In the self-discipline of which I have spoken one essential ingredient is patience. It is very seldom in politics (and particularly in British politics) that things happen at the speed at which we would like them to happen. When they do not happen at the desired speed, self-discipline dictates to us that we submit ourselves to whatever wait is necessary until they do - whilst using the intervening time to do everything we can do that is practical to hasten things up.
I have to say this because one of the things that have been noticeable in recent times has been the tendency of some people to put a time limit on the kind of changes in the BNP that so many of us favour. If the changes have not come about in such and such a time, the reasoning goes, a new party will be the only option. What are we seeing here? Are we seeing a rationally calculated assessment of the situation? No, what we are seeing is human emotion and impatience taking over - hearts ruling heads and practical politics going out of the window.
Main rationale for split
Before ending, I must come to the rationale that is perhaps most often offered in support of the new-party strategy: that the BNP cannot be changed; that its present leadership and course of policy are set in stone and are unchallengeable.
I have said earlier that I do not accept this argument. In the way of knowledge and information, I am in fact much better placed to judge the situation in the BNP than most of the new-party advocates, who tend to make their judgements from outside. I believe that the party can be retaken and turned round by the nationalist fundamentalists whom I represent.
But even if there were no prospect of doing this in the foreseeable future, would this alter the picture substantially? Would it justify the new-party course? In my very firm opinion it would not. Here we have to take a step or two back and look at matters from the standpoint of the overall good of nationalism in Britain. I strongly believe that, though it is most undesirable for the BNP to continue on its present course and under its present controllers, for the party to be split by the formation of a new one would be a disaster of infinitely greater magnitude. It would be a matter of stepping from the frying pan into the fire. It would be a course of political suicide and despair. To repeat, I know because I have been there!
And of one thing we can be sure: our enemies know it too! The neutralising of nationalism by means of splintering it has been the name of their game ever since I first became involved with the movement, and probably for a long time before that. In this regard, because of our own foolishness (which at times in the past I have shared) they have scored some notable successes. It is time to stop obliging them.
There was never any doubt in my mind that these enemies had a hand in the takeover of the BNP in 1999. I believe they calculated that when this happened I would be unprepared to go on serving the party in any position other than leader and would lead a breakaway from it. They proved to be mistaken: we did not oblige them.
I believe that every move away from genuine nationalism that has been made in the party since has been calculated to push its fundamentalists to such anger and frustration that they would stage the breakaway hoped for in 1999 but not then carried out, that they would launch a new party and achieve the split in nationalism that is our enemies' goal. As in the past, we must not oblige them.
Non-party group suggested
Some friends who share my opinions on current BNP leadership and policy have discussed with me the setting up of an active political group which would be somewhere short of an actual party. It would not fight elections and thus would not be in competition with the BNP in that, politically the most important, field. But it would serve as a rallying point for the many who want to be politically active but cannot stomach the BNP as it presently is - or are anyway barred from BNP membership by the decision of its controllers.
I have said to these people that I am not particularly keen on the idea, but that if others want to go ahead with it I will not try to stop them, but will endeavour to maintain good relations with them. To me, any effort put into alternative organisations, even if they are not conceived as actual parties, is a distraction from the task of working to reform the BNP. In fact, the latter task has been made immeasurably more difficult by the action of people, probably numbered in the several hundreds, of removing themselves from BNP membership and thus disenfranchising themselves in the way of voting for change. They want that change, but it is their action that has rendered it all the harder. Now they look to others to bring it about!
Nevertheless, difficult though is the task of recapturing the BNP and turning it around, it still is the only practical course. It is the one on which my energies will remain concentrated; and I urge upon everybody that theirs should be thus concentrated too while I am mindful, of course, that some will not heed me because they are the kind of people who always know best!