Opinion: Because BNP members have rights too

So the latest data leak has nothing to do with the Government’s lamentably lax data management polices. It has however generated some responses which should, but worryingly don’t always appear to, concern liberals.

It’s now relatively easy for anyone to find out if their neighbour is a BNP member. It took me about 10 minutes to find a credible link to the list last night and if it has made its way onto the peer-to-peer networks then the cat cannot now be put back into the bag.

The leaked list seems reasonably accurate. The most the BNP are suggesting (in a possible smokescreen exercise) is that some details are inaccurate.

There are two difference aspects that have arisen from this leak, both of which should concern liberals.

First, is a pretty basic point. In a democracy people should be able to have a free choice to join any political party that reflects their views. Publishing the list of members of a particular party can be a highly intimidating step. Joe MacCarthy would no doubt have found a full list Communist Party members highly useful.

We were all rightly outraged at the campaign of political intimidation waged against Sal Brinton in Watford. I’ve absolutely no doubt that the BNP are hyping up every incident for their own ends, but similar incidents taking place following the leak of this document are equally reprehensible.

Secondly, is talk about the effect BNP membership would have on an individuals employment situation. Membership of a particular political party should not (other than in very particular circumstances like recruiting party staff) be grounds for barring someone from employment.

If someone allows their political views to interfere with the performance of their job then that might amount to grounds for dismissal. But up and down the country there are people who are members of political parties who are asked to implement policies and ideas that they personally don’t agree with, where there’s no evidence that people aren’t professionally able to do that then there should be no grounds for victimisation.

Both these have one thing in common. Intolerance. It’s very depressing that one of the main cheerleaders of such ideas is Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission of Equality and Human Rights. When I heard him be the first person to advocate the idea of removing BNP members from public sector jobs I told him he was advocating a “First they came for the BNP” policy. Since then his rhetoric has become more fiery, saying they should be treated as “less than human”, and that communion should be withheld from BNP members.

Phillips is unfit to serve in his position. No-one who is serious about defending human rights should glibly invoke the idea that members of an organisation operating within the law are part of the “Untermenschen” as regards employment or religious freedom.

But let’s not be under any illusions. A BNP government (unlikely as that is) would be quick to remove any such protections for members of other parties. But we should be willing to give BNP members rights they would seek to take away from us for a simple reason. We’re better than they are.

The BNP have been frequently beaten all over the country by the Liberal Democrats. What seemed even in 2003 to be a near certain victory for Nick Griffin in the 2004 Euro elections turned into a Lib Dem gain. That it was an Asian Muslim Liberal Democrat who beat him made it even more enjoyable (we’ll gloss over his subsequent actions for now!). But they weren’t beaten by bans or intimidation, but by the only way you can genuinely beat fascism – by winning the argument.

There is however one cause for amusement. Seeing the BNP, usually so swift to attack the idea of Human Rights, invoking that very act to defend their members rights. Ignoring for a moment the legally illiterate calls for a criminal investigation into a breach of Human Rights, it’s a good sign for all of us. If the Human Rights Act protects the rights of BNP members then I can be sure it defends mine as a Liberal Democrat.

* Hywel Morgan was ALDC’s Campaigns & Development Officer from 1997-2004. Following the 2001 elections he developed the party’s campaign strategy to counter the BNP and is the author of the ALDC guide “Beating the BNP” – available from www.aldc.org

Editor’s note: please do not link in the comments to any website carrying the BNP membership list, as to do so places Lib Dem Voice in breach of the law. Any links posted will be removed, and we reserve the right to block future comments from anyone doing so.

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  • Clegg's Candid Fan 21st Nov '08 - 7:59pm

    “please do not link in the comments to any website carrying the BNP membership list, as to do so places Lib Dem Voice in breach of the law”

    Just out of curiosity – what law would LDV be in breach of, and what exactly does it prohibit?

  • Hywel Morgan 21st Nov '08 - 8:31pm

    CCF – possibly contempt of court. There is a court order with regard to this the precise ambit of which isn’t know. There is also s55 of the Data Protection Act.

    The are grounds for argument on both points but it’s fair enough to not want to get embroiled in the risks.

  • There is some history here which many readers may well not remember.

    In the late 1970s there were a number of highly publicised scandals resulting from the discovery that large numbers of officers at various prisons and borstals had signed up to the National Front (including a borstal governor in one case). It was in response to situations of this kind that the rule against prison officers joining fascist parties was introduced.

    The history relating to teachers joining fascist parties is a little bit messier. Colin Jordan, an unrepentant Nazi and Jew-hater who founded the National Socialist Movement (later renamed the British Movement), was sacked from his teaching job on account of his political activities. You can’t have a teacher stomping around the country praising Hitler, and I don’t think anyone would take issue with that. Andrew Brons, on the other hand, never lost his job as a politics lecturer at an FE college in Harrogate, even though he was an active member of the National Front and became its leader in the early 1980s. That was probably because Brons had the habit of donning a suit and sounding urbane when he needed to.

  • BNP police being allowed? What’s next Jehovas Witness surgeons? Worst piece I’ve read so far.

  • >But we should be willing to give BNP members rights they would seek to take away from us for a simple reason. We’re better than they are.

    Well, quite. And I don’t see how banning party members from a profession works – bound to be plenty of BNP sympathisers in the police etc, who vote for them, share their views, but aren’t actually members.

    But you’d have to be a saint not to have laughed at them invoking the Human Rights Act 😉

  • Norman Fraser 21st Nov '08 - 11:33pm

    I’m sorry. I think this is ‘gosh we’re so tolerant’ nonsense. The BNP are a special case because of their racism. There is no place in any public service for any mamber of the BNP. You cannot be sure that any of these scum will treat all the public fairly and equally so out with them. My view of what to do with fascists is roughly equivalent to that of the Cable Street dockers. Smash them off the streets.

  • Some of may recall a thing called the “Berufsverbot” which used to operate in Germany (and might still do, for all I know). This was a blanket ban on members of the Communist Party and other leftist groups being employed in the public sector. It was heavily criticised by the British left during the 1970s as some kind of hangover from the Nazi era, but it was in reality imposed by the Occupation Powers as part of the Entnazifizierung drive (though former Nazis were admitted to public sector employment while Communists were kept out).

    I cannot in all honesty say I approve of a Berufsverbot in the United Kingdom. If certain occupations (such as the Police and Prison Service) require exceptional neutrality, then the ban should apply to all political parties. If members go round mouthing off racist and fascist opinions, that’s quite a different matter, of course.

    Surveys have shown that more than 90% of police officers vote Conservative. While most officers probably agree with the BNP on most issues, it is unlikely that more than a minority would join, on account of Hitler’s opposition to Freemasonry. I think a great many prison officers probably would join.

    I am in two minds about the publication of the BNP membership list. If one is Jewish, black or Asian, one would feel decidedly uncomfortable living in close proximity to BNP members and would probably want to know where they lived just to give them a wide berth.

    The Eurpoean Court of Human Rights in Observer and Guardian v UK (1991) found that the courts can impose publication bans in order to protect state secrets, confidentiality etc, but that any such bans should be lifted once the protected information came into the public domain. The case concerned the Spycatcher litigation, which produced a number of contradictory judicial pronouncements. Observer and Guardian v United Kingdom applies to the Contempt of Court Act, not the Data Protection Act.

    I am reasonably confident that the Baby P injunction now falls foul of the ECHR ruling.

  • David Morton 22nd Nov '08 - 12:26am

    ” The Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church” as St Cyprian so rightly said. One of the BNP’s main motifs is that a politically correct elite is stiffling free speech. Much of the no platform/ban them brigade do nothing but validate this while giving them the avenue of potraying them selves as free speech martyrs.

    I imagine who ever did this was well intentioned and it may peel off some soft members but really all its done is give them free publicity and a sense of symnpathy in a certain section of the populus. I imagine any future sackings and employment tribunerals by public sector staff will be PR triumphs for the party as well.

    One other thing troubles me. While the list seems flaky at the edges no one is challenging its basically accurate.

    12000 members ? compared to our own membership figures hovering over 60000 ?

    Anti BNP posturing is student union politics where we can all be a bow in the rainbow and sing kumbahay while feeling superior.

    In fact a party on that scale is a sign of deep rooted racism and aleination amongst a section of the community.

    You can sack certain employees but you can’t sack an idea.

    And its ideas at which level this will be beaten or not. If we are heading for 1.5% to 2% economic contraction over the next year the only proffession that will be hiring is scape goats and refugees and immigrants will score highly at interview.

    We need to be prepared to actually debate some of the BNP’s issues rather than celebrate stunts like this list leak.

  • I was very pleased to read this article. I do not think that BNP members should lose their jobs, unless there is any evidence that they are behaving in ways inconsistent with their jobs. I can imagine that there are people who think that those who don’t look like them should leave, but treat them appropriately so long as they are here. Many politicians think that immigration has been too high recently, i.e. they think that some immigrants should “go home”, but they still treat them properly when they are constituents. Is it any different?

  • Tim Leunig wrote:

    “Many politicians think that immigration has been too high recently, i.e. they think that some immigrants should “go home”, but they still treat them properly when they are constituents. Is it any different?”

    Yes it is. The BNP is run by people who idolise Adolf Hitler. Not only that, but they have a record of stirring up racial tension and inciting criminal acts.

    Did not Martin Webster say: “We’ll kick our way into the headlines.” ?

    And wasn’t John Kingsley Read’s infamous “wogs, niggers and coons” speech followed by the murder of two Middle Eastern students in South Woodford?

    The BNP is simply a reinvention of the National Front, which itself was a reinvention of the National Socialist Movement and the Greater Britain Movement.

    The membership list (which makes fascinating reading, and who can resist a peek?) is probably comprised for the most part of what John O’Brien called “honest-to-God British patriots”, who hate foreigners, mourn the loss of the Empire, think the country has gone to the dogs since the war and yearn for the return of the Press Gang. But the people running the show are hardline Nazi scumbags (“really evil men”, according to John O’Brien); and let’s not lose sight of that fact.

  • “who can resist a peek?” Me. If we don’t think that the list should be public, surely we should not look at it even when it becomes public?

  • 800,000 people voted for the BNP in the last Euro election. Will the voting slips now be checked to see who they are, some of them may be Police officers or Prison Warders? Surely it is therefore a nonsense to ban these people from these organisations when you could hold the same views but not join. Also the Manchester police I believe have suspended an officer, what if such a person has been awarded a medal , has an exemplary record , is he to be thrown on the scrap heap for belonging to a legal political party? It can only open up a can of worms.

  • Dr Imran Waheed, spokesman for Hizb-ut-Tahir in the UK, was working for the NHS in Birmingham as a psychiatrist, last I heard. In fact I once had occasion to work closely with him. Hizb are proscribed in many countries including Muslim ones. They promote the reestablishment of the Caliphate, discourage fraternisation and marriage between muslims and kuffar, and are anti-Semitic, and have been described as extremist as the BNP. On the one occasion I worked with him Dr Waheed, was affable, personable, his clinical judgment was faultless, and although there was more than ample opportunity for him to be judgmental in the situation in which we worked, he was perfectly professional and dispassionate in his behaviour. I am no lover of Islam, by the way. But if Dr Waheed can act professionally in keeping his beliefs separate from his work, any reason why BNP members can’t do the same?

  • Notory and Trofim do you have complete seperation between your job and your views? Do you have this everyday? May there be an occasion where your intuition may overcome your rationality?

    I hate asking stupid questions but when faced with ridiculous logic what else can you do.

    The correct way is tolerance, of course. But sometimes your underlying opinions sometimes make you unsuitable for certain positions. Jehova’s Witness Surgeon, Survivalist Politician, Creationist Geologist, Chocolate Teapot.

    Where is the choice of the citizen not to be seen/treated/effected by these people if they don’t know about there abstract takes on reality.

  • I would add to your blog title, “and the British peoples have rights, too”.

    Specifically the rights to control their homelands, and to not be race-replaced through immigration and govt. programs of deracination.

  • Tim Leunig wrote:

    ““who can resist a peek?” Me. If we don’t think that the list should be public, surely we should not look at it even when it becomes public?”

    I was opposed to the building of the M25. Does that mean I don’t drive on it?

    Bear in mind the following: (1) confidentiality ceases to exist once it has been destroyed, and (2) there is a public interest defence to breach of confidentiality.

    So I am quite happy, indeed, delighted, to comb through all 12,000 names.

  • Hywel Morgan 23rd Nov '08 - 1:17am

    Are JWs not allowed to be doctors or nurses on a blanket basis?

  • Tim,

    Are you opposed to media outlets analysing the data contained in the membership list? As both the BBC and the Grauniad have done?

    Note that I have not disclosed who is and isn’t on the list, as much as I would like to, out of respect for the moderator’s instructions not to link to it or quote from it.

  • David Morton 23rd Nov '08 - 4:50am

    The Hazel Blears article in yesterdays Guardian on this topic was well worth reading. ( Puts tin hat on and runs… )

  • mund:
    It’s an in-built assumption of professionalism that you treat all human beings as equals regardless of whether you approve or disapprove of personal features such as race, religion, political views and so on. It was so axiomatic that when I was working, that it wasn’t even taught. It was assumed that everyone knew and subscribed to that principle. As for Dr Waheed I mentioned, when I worked with him I had never heard of Hizb-ut-Tahrir at the time. He attained such a high profile in the media (see YouTube) that I find it difficult to see that he carried on without some attention from management. Perhaps some special agreement was reached. In any case, I retired three years ago, and things may have changed.

  • I’ve seen the list, and the detail on it is quite surprising – from a Data Protection Act perspective, the BNP could find themselves in trouble because I really can’t see how much of the information they have is of relevance to them as a political party!

    I do agree with the ban on BNP membership in the police, however. One of the police’s key roles is in race relations, and this is simply not compatible with the BNP’s aims. Teachers, too, should not be permitted to be members for the same reasons (although university lecturers could be a different case because of their audience.) Doctors who refuse to treat a patient would be in breach of their oath so there’s probably no reason for a specific ban here.

    I guess the question is though – where do you stop? Do you ban business studies or economics teachers from being members of the Communist party because it’s not compatible with the state’s view of economics? Should teachers who do not subscribe to the notion of global warming be allowed to teach science in schools? Can members of the military join organisations like CND? The list could go on…

  • Ben Waterhouse 25th Nov '08 - 1:46pm


    The old ones are the best….

    There is nothing so illiberal than a liberal.

    Human Rights are for everyone, not to just those who agree with us.

    Whilst the BNP are a legal political organisation, and do not break the law; they and their members are entitled to be treated exactly like anyone else from the 32 CSM to Fatah al-Islam to even the Liberal Democrats.

    Just because Neu Arbiet (c.DDR) has decided what political parties police and prison officers can belong to doesn’t make it right

    It’s what makes us not fascists.

  • My goodness!

    A proud member of the Aryan race has trouble with an Aryan language!

    It is “so illiberal AS”, not “so illiberal THAN”.

    “Human Rights are for everyone, not to just those who agree with us.”

    But just a second. The founder of the BNP, the late John Tyndall, once wrote that his idea of freedom was “not the modern Jew-inspired idea of freedom”, but freedom only for “those who deserve it”.

    “It’s what makes us not fascists.”

    Yes, we do have to be careful with our terminology, don’t we?

    “Fascists” are followers of Benito Mussolini, who belonged to a race Nazis consider inferior. John Tyndall castigated Martin Webster for hob-nobbing with “Mediterraneans”, something he believed no true Aryan should dream of doing.

    Trawling through the BNP membership list I see a guy who once called an Asian man an “inferior being” in a city centre street, and once tried to persuade the Dowager Lady Birdwood to authorise attacks on synagogues.

    Lovely people, the British Nazi Party.

  • Ben Waterhouse 25th Nov '08 - 2:25pm

    Erm, I am not Aryan…

  • Ben Waterhouse 25th Nov '08 - 2:28pm

    Well actually I might be, via North India…

  • Ben Waterhouse 25th Nov '08 - 2:34pm

    So Sesenco, since we are into the ad Hominem, are you a public schoolboy “radical” with a bit of class self hatred? or maybe you despise those not as well educated as yourself?

    I suppose for the box tickers I am a libertarian Anarcho-Syndicalist who votes LibDem….

    Chill Winston 🙂

  • Alix Mortimer 25th Nov '08 - 3:03pm

    “I am a libertarian Anarcho-Syndicalist who votes LibDem…”


  • Hywel Morgan 27th Nov '08 - 6:15pm

    Is that the same Pat Harrington who went to Libya with Nick Griffin in the 80s to try to raise funds for the NF get Colonel Gadaffi?

  • Hywel Morgan 27th Nov '08 - 6:15pm

    Oops – from Col Gadaffi that should read.

  • The view that being a member of the BNP means that you cannot deal fairly with ethnic minorities is just not true. I am a member and I deal with people originating from all corners of the earth in the same way as I deal with English people. In January I will be serving on a jury and I will consider the evidence and make my decision based upon that evidence regardless of the race of the accused.

    There is a big misconception held by the anti-BNP Liberal/Left and that is that BNP members are all rabid racists who hate anyone who is not white. The real thrust of the BNP is that English people should have a place called England where they can maintain and develop their own culture, identity and community, just as other peoples are entitled to their own lands. (Likewise for the Scots, Welsh etc.)

  • I to am a member of BNP, their is a lot of misconseptions about us ,yes we are ras–ic ,we subject race to the law of numbers, IC in english means the law of numbers,the other words are not about what we are, racists, racisim, these are moral words ,they only pertain to the soul, of single man /woman.Politics is about maths ,balance in all things,genet–ic diplomat–ic,military–ic,Aesop 3000 years ago summed up the stupidity of liberal muti culture, piss out of your eyes endlessly, he said his THOUSE THAT TRY TO PLEASE ALL, IN THE END PLEASE NONE,The british donkey has fallen of the bridge and is drowning,How many christains live in mecca, whites in africa, very few compared, with their numbers in UK,am I the only one that can see this,or as you say I must be a AESOP.
    NAZI.aesop was a black man

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