Rumour has it that Chris Jackson, the challenger for Nick Griffin's leadership of the British National Party and the party's former North-West regional organiser, is about to make a legal challenge against the election rules as set by Griffin himself. These rules, though played down by the Griffin camp as standard, are intended to make it almost impossible for any challenger to win.
Since the modern BNP was formed back in 1982 there has been just one leadership challenge, when Nick Griffin took over from the party's founder John Tyndall after a campaign of lies and distortion in 1999. Tyndall was far from being an angel but Griffin knew how to manipulate the truth far better than he and, with the help of many of his friends who had moved with him from the old National Front, he was able to oust Tyndall and take the party off in a new direction.
Sadly, the direction Griffin chose was as far from democracy as could be imagined, with Griffin ruling the party as a dictator. This is clear from the contortions that the BNP is going through to ensure that Jackson is denied a voice during the pre-election period.
Griffin laid out the rules in a list that appeared on the main BNP website:
'Each candidate shall send via email an official statement not exceeding 200 words, together with a photograph of himself, to the editor of the British Nationalist BNP members’ bulletin, Kenny Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org), by noon on Thursday 5th July at the latest.
Additionally, each candidate shall send via email to Mr. Smith a longer and complimentary official statement not exceeding 800 words which will be published with the photographs side-by-side on a section of the main BNP website which will be open to members only with a URL which will be published in the July issue of British Nationalist [which we would appreciate taking a look at, if someone would like to let us know where it is]. The candidates’ statements and photographs will then appear in the July issue of British Nationalist, which will be sent to all members.
A single sheet ballot paper, designed to be as proof against forgery as is reasonably possible, will be mailed out together with July’s British Nationalist bulletin. The statements for the website will be published simultaneously online by our web editor Steve Blake on Wednesday 11th July.
Ballot papers must be returned by post to PO Box 87, Ossett, Wakefield, WF5 8WN to arrive by Thursday 26th July at the latest. All ballots received before that date will be safely stored unopened. The opening of the ballot papers will commence at 3pm that afternoon. You will be notified of precise directions in good time in due course. Each candidate and agent may attend and may bring an additional two telling agents with them should they so wish.
The whole proceedings will be under the control of the Returning Officer, party manager Nick Cass. The opening and counting of the papers will be carried out by four currently paid up members of the party, two nominated by each candidate. Any spoilt or unclear ballots will be adjudicated upon by the standard method used in UK elections, with the decision of the Returning Officer being final. The result will be announced immediately after the count and the winner will be the leader of the party from that moment.
From now until the close of polls, both candidates and their supporters are at liberty to appear and speak at any party meetings to which they are invited by local officials, and to organise campaign meetings of their own. In order to avoid giving an unfair advantage to the incumbent, or encouraging the illicit collection of membership data, neither candidate nor their agents or supporters shall distribute any information, in any form, by post, phone or email, except in response to a direct request from an individual member for information for him or herself.'
So Chris Jackson has around three weeks to prepare and present his manifesto, travel to speak to all of the numerous BNP branches in the country (at his own expense) to state his case, is not allowed to send a mailout to all party members or even telephone party members who may be sympathetic to his challenge but need the personal touch to clinch the deal and has no chance of checking the returned ballot papers as they come in and are 'safely stored' by Griffin's old chum Nick Cass.
One wonders how easy it would be for the Griffin team to pack a few thousand envelopes with Griffin votes and put them in the post. Not too difficult, I'd imagine. Quick, someone call the United Nations.
Apart from being the incumbent, Griffin has another few advantages. He has plenty of money and no doubt will be zooming all over the place kissing babies and shaking hands wherever he is invited to do so. Also, while denying Jackson the opportunity of getting his message out to the members, he has an excellent and continuing opportunity in the form of the nazi Stormfront forum. In spite of being proscribed to BNP members, Stormfront is packed with them and has shown a very clear bias over the last couple of months since news of the challenge became known by closing any anti-Griffin/pro-Jackson threads and, over the past couple of weeks at least, closing any thread that dared to highlight or discuss the epidemic of corruption at the top of the BNP.
Jackson frankly doesn't stand much of a chance though a legal challenge to the Griffin-dictated election rules might push a lot of votes his way. Even so, we would expect Griffin to win fairly resoundingly. The BNP membership is conservative by nature and dramatic change is not something it generally wishes to see, still less participate in. Nevertheless, we may be surpised. A membership sick to death of the numerous get rich quick schemes that inevitably go wrong, a membership that remembers that not a single seat was gained in May's council elections or a membership that has realised that the party hasn't had a single by-election win for years might actually get it together to vote for change and let's face it, if he's not kicked out, Griffin will stay leader of the BNP until he considers he has enough money to retire on or he manages to bankrupt the party.