An 'Electronic Loose Cannon' Extra!
GRIFFIN AS 'PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
'Scenes of Hilarious Farce and Fiasco at last Saturday's West Midlands BNP Rally!
Exclusive report by our Drama Correspondent
Yesterday (Saturday 14th October 2000) I attended a West Midlands BNP meeting at the Tipton Sports and Social Club held to call for the reinstatement to the party of Steve and Sharron Edwards ("S and S") and Mike Newland ("MN").
As you will be aware, party chairman Nick Griffin ("NG") had expelled S and S and MN following a stormy meeting of the party's Advisory Council in August. W. Mids. Region however strongly supported S and S, and convened yesterday's meeting to put pressure on NG to reverse his unpopular decision.
About 100 or so people attended the meeting.
For reasons to which I shall come, it is clear that NG had anticipated a far smaller attendance.
He himself did not (at first) grace the meeting with his august presence, but instead sent his principal lieutenant, Tony Lecomber ("TL") to face down those attending.
Numerous speakers addressed the meeting, including MN, S and S, TL, Eddy Butler, Jonathan Bowden and Richard Edmonds. MN denounced NG and TL in the most bitter and vitriolic terms. Choice gems include describing NG and TL as "criminals" (which is of course true) and NG in particular as an "asset stripper" who had "done the rounds of all the various nationalist groups, sticking around long enough to appropriate their assets in the form of salary and expenses, before moving on to the next target". TL, who displayed considerable courage in attempting to face down a large and hostile meeting, then demeaned himself by losing his temper, swearing at hecklers from the platform in a disgraceful outburst of vile obscenities.
TL also stated in terms that there was "nothing really wrong with defrauding the public exchequer as a means of financing a nationalist party". No doubt 'Searchlight' will bring this imprudent public observation to the attention of the Inland Revenue Special Investigations Unit in due course!
S and S made very effective and dignified speeches which confirmed the good opinion that I had formed of them in earlier discussions. Eddy Butler made a characteristically sensible and low key speech, not overlooking to mention his long standing friendship with TL, formed when NG had expelled Eddy from the NF fourteen years ago, and pointing out that to expel leading members of the party without a proper hearing on trivial charges was unacceptable if the party sought to become a serious democratic mass party capable of winning elections.
In a witty and well received intervention, Jonathan Bowden observed that England was not Iraq. It was not open to NG to answer questions from the party treasurer such as "where's that quid?" by saying "You are mad and you are out!", especially when there was compelling evidence of false accounting by NG and TL, nor should NG make ill disguised threats of violence against S and S in a members' bulletin (as to which see below).
Richard Edmonds wound up with a powerful and eloquent speech in which he lambasted NG, saying that NG was "a coward who had sent TL to face the music instead of coming himself", that NG's motive in expelling S and S was simply "fear that Sharron might one day challenge him for the leadership, which any member of the party was entitled to do", and that the veiled incitement to violence against S and S in the October members' bulletin was the most disgraceful thing that he had seen in his long years in the movement.
At the end of this speech, a whey faced NG emerged from behind the curtains at the back of the hall where he had been hiding for the previous fifteen minutes or so, after TL had summoned him to a parley with S and S. S and S agreed with NG that they should be immediately and unconditionally readmitted, and that the question of who should be the party's candidate in the pending West Bromwich bye-election should stand over for fourteen days.
MN refused to be readmitted, telling the assembled gathering that NG was "a crook and a con man, and would con them all again as he had before".
NG took this intervention without attempting to answer for fear of exacerbating the situation, if that were possible.
Make of this what you will.