Where I disagree with ConHome over the BNP’s Buckingham Palace Invitation

There will be – and should be – widespread disgust at the suggestion that BNP leader Nick Griffin is going to attend a Buckingham Palace garden party, hosted by HM the Queen. For the overwhelming majority of Britons who support racial and cultural diversity, it is offensive to see the British National Party attending a function hosted by the Head of State in honour of public service. It would be embarrassing for the Queen herself, who has been rightly keen to emphasise she is constitutional monarch for Britons of all faiths and races.

However, it would be mistaken to focus our outrage simply on the fact that Griffin will attend as a result of BNP London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook allocating one of his guest ticket to his party leader. If London Assembly members are given tickets as a result of holding elected office – and invited to bring a guest with them – then Buckingham Palace can only apply that policy to all politicians equally. The real outrage is that Britain’s broken politics led disillusioned London voters into the arms of the BNP and allowed Barnbrook to be elected.

The Palace should re-consider whether it is wise to devolve responsibility for the guest list to an event where invitations will inevitably be interpreted as an honour or endorsement by the Queen, even if it was never intended as such. Yet any official rights extended to elected representatives of one party should be extended to them all. Nick Griffin should not be invited to Buckingham Palace garden parties. We should stop him by ending the tradition of discretionary tickets for politicians, not by making exceptions for those whose views we hate.

As Tim Montgomerie said this week, the BNP have skillfully attracted a broad range of moderate voters by playing down their ugly nationalist policies and promoting themselves as merely an anti-establishment party. The breakdown of any remaining public trust in British politics over the past few weeks has only increased the chances of the BNP winning seats in next month’s European elections. It is more important than ever that anti-racist voters turn out and vote for whatever party these choose over the BNP, so the nationalists’ share of the vote does not qualify them for a seat. As the Nothing British About the BNP campaign says, all political parties must challenge the BNP’s lies and bigotry, and aim to restore faith in politics.

Ultimately, however, it would be wrong to criticise the electoral system’s proportional representation for rewarding the BNP’s electoral support with seats. It is equally wrong to ask Buckingham Palace to make a special rule for Nick Griffin, which is what Conservative Home’s Jonathan Isaby has suggested. I understand where Jonathan is coming from (and share his anger), but I think we have to be careful to treat the rights of elected politicians equally. It would be constitutionally problematic for the monarch to be asked to pick and choose – on the basis of ideological views – which elected politicians’ guests she wished to host and which she did not. The Palace’s rules clearly need tightening up, but they should be applied to all elected representatives equally. No tickets to the Queen’s garden party should be used for political grandstanding.

Making special rules for extremists is gratifying to us anti-fascists, but undermines democracy and plays into the BNP’s hands by making them appear to be martyrs of an establishment conspiracy. Any changes to the rules must be applied equally, and not just to Nick Griffin. As liberals often note, the best antidote to extremism is more free speech not less. The real outrage is that the BNP has been able to attract so much support that they have an elected Assembly Member and have a shot at an MEP this year.

Let’s beat the BNP by shining the bright light of democratic debate on them, rather than subverting British fair play in a misguided attempt to defend it from their hateful views.

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  • From memory 50k people a year get invitations – with that number invited, realistically invitations have to be delegated.

  • ‘overwhelming majority of Britons who support racial and cultural diversity’

    Sorry Richard, but that’s simply not the case. How many opinion polls have suggested that the public have ever supported the mass immigration that has brought this diversity about? The British people are reasonably tolerant of racial and cultural minorities, but that doesn’t mean a majority actively desire their presence.

  • Richard Huzzey 21st May '09 - 1:55am

    Tim — But there clearly needs to be some control to ensure guest invitations are used for partners or family members rather than for political (or, a hypothetical example, financial) gain.

    My central point is the danger of making special exceptions for the BNP’s Assembly member which would not be made for other party representatives. I understand the desire to do so, but I think the state should apply privileges to all democratically elected representatives equally.

  • But the electoral system is at fault. These “top up” systems as used for the London assembly and the scotish Parliament and welsh assembly are rubbish. The party list system used for the European Parliament in rubbish.

  • Realist? How many opinion polls have suggested the BNP speak for anyone but a tiny minority ? Even Nick Griffin admits only about 6000 people share the BNP racist agenda. How “realistic” is it to propose that everyone returns to their country of ethnic origin ? For starters, countries aren’t based on ethnic origins in the first place. But lets assume the BNP has a go. Nick Griffin says that he would pay “a six figure sum”, i.e. upto £1 million, to people leaving the UK. He has also promised generous grants for any white people coming to like in the UK. Given that he wants all the white people in the USA, Canada, South Africa, Austrailia, New Zealand etc to return to their country of ethnic origin – the UK is going to be very very crowded. How mcuh would it cost ?
    Nick Griffin says mixed race sex is unatural can never be morally right. He wants the police to prevent it. How realistic is that? Nick Griffin says people betray their cultural heritage when the eat a “ethnic takeaway” – how many people share that view ?

    Nick Griffin denied the Holocaust happened – what sort of judgement does that show ? Nick Griffin says he doesn’t like Muslims, but he would fit in well with Muslim extremists. (No wonder he had links with them)

    Doesn’t Nick Griffin realise that Islam is a religion, not a race ?

    Nick Griffin would be happy in Iran – the Government there percecutes homosexuals, has the death penalty, denies the holocaust and the women have to wear to to toe robes, like Nicks friends in the KKK.

  • Daniel Bowen 21st May '09 - 8:43am

    The real answer to the BNP is for the authorities to use existing legislation e.g. incitement to racial hatred much more thoroughly.

  • Yes, lets not beat them by opposing their opinions, lets just prosecute them for holding them in the first place.


  • ‘Even Nick Griffin admits only about 6000 people share the BNP racist agenda’.

    Really ? According to the Sky News Poll which is accessible on their website, a majority of people agree with the BNP’s agenda on immigration etc even if they don’t vote for the party. Only last week, an academic study suggested that up to 20% of people agree with the whole raft of BNP policies, including Capital Punishment.

    If you took your news only from the Daily Mirror, the Guardian and its broadcasting arm the BBC etc however, you would never know that.

  • I wonder how many people agree with the BNP’s founder (and Griffin’s mentor), the late John Tyndall, who said “Mein Kampf is my doctrine” and “the Jew is like a poisonous insect eating into a society in an advanced state of decay”; and joined Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movmement, whose preamble included the words: “Only those who accept the spiritual leadership of Adolf Hitler will be admitted to our movement.”

  • Can we stop being nice about BNP voters. They aren’t ‘disillusioned’. They are vile racist scumbags who are not fit to be around decent people. Full stop. There’s no excuse for voting BNP.

  • So far as I am aware, Nick Griffin has rejected John Tyndall and his views. Do get your facts right.

    There are plenty of people in New Labour who were /are followers of Trotsky, a mass murderer.

    Trevor Phillips, the ‘Equality Czar,’is said to have a bust of Lenin, one of the most evil men in history, in his office. Certainly, Lenin, a notorious anti-semite, is worshipped by numerous people on the British Left.

    Why not turn some attention to these people?

  • One hopes that should any communists or other left-wing extremists end up being “invited” to Buckingham Palace that people will kick up an equal fuss.

    Incidently if the Queen was able to stomach ghastly communist murderers from Eastern Europe I’m sure she can stomach some two-bit fascist.

  • Tim Heyden, I’ll turn my attention to them once we’ve finished with the workshy Nazi thug, Griffin, OK?

    BTW, how do you explain the fact that Andrew Brons (former Chairman of the National Front who once discussed blowing up synagogues, is a card-carrying BNP member)?

    Odd that Griffin should reject Tyndall (when it is convenient so to do) having used Tyndall to get to the top of the BNP.

    Griffin and his gang can don nice suits (it’d be good if they got them to fit properly) but they cannot hide their Nazi past.

  • I don’t know how the garden parties are run but why not insist all guests are in a group photo in front of a banner that reads something like “Celebrating the Multi-Culture of Britishness”

    And make sure the BNP bods are surrounded by a range of ethnicities.

  • Tim Heydon – if you want to defend the BNP at least have the courage of saying what you think.

    I’ll quote for the BNP website, Nick Griffin’s article The BNP:Anti-asylum protest, racist sect or power-winning movement ? An official statement by Party Chairman Nick Griffin.

    “miscegenation, (look it up) which we (the BNP)recognise as a form of genocide. This last assessment is shared by perhaps 10,000 people in the entire country, and probably would be regarded as an overstatement even by some – though, mericfully, not many of our own activists”

    “there can be little doubt that virtually every one of our voters and a majority of our activists are compromised by some aspect of ‘multi-culti’ experiment, whether it be by supporting teams which include non-whites, buying ethnic takeaways or getting on well with a few individual members of ethnic minorities”

    So where do you stand Tim ? Is the existance of Barak Obama a form of genocide ? Is eating an ethnic takeway morally wrong and conspiring in the genocide of the British people ?

    Nick Griffin again, same article – “It is a temptation to think, .. we can in turn move to a more ‘principled’ ‘hardline’ position and still take a significant number of voters with us. Tempting but politically suicidal.”

    In otehr words, forget your principles, forget your real views, just try and sell a fake version to the voters.

  • I can’t let “Mouse”s obvious memory loss to go unchallenged. I think you will find that Nick Griffin was dragged into court, and was then acquitted of all charges, having been recorded saying that “Islam Was A Wicked, Vicious FAITH”. FAITH not RACE was the words he used.

    Which makes your throwaway line a little strange, in my view.

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