Party leader Nick Griffin loves to put on a sharp suit and appear on television, where he paints a pretty picture of the new image that the far-right neo-fascist party has been forced to adopt since finally realising that the British are - on the whole - a tolerant people who would never vote for a bunch of Nazi thugs. So power-hungry is he that under his leadership, the party has transformed itself into one that at first glance appears to be the only political group willing to tackle the public's fears over issues such as immigration. Meanwhile, the main parties are so obsessed with three minute soundbite politics and electioneering that they have entirely failed to take note of how widespread these misconceived fears are (to date, only Boris Johnson - G_d help us - has done anything to put these dangerous worries to rest), with the result that our peaceful, friendly, tolerant nation is now represented by a pair of fascists in the European Parliament. That's right - fascists. As in what Hitler, the same man many of our grandparents gave their lives to defeat when he threatened Britain and the British, was.
Under Nick Griffin's leadership, they have worked hard to give themselves a respectable image.For all his faults (being a fascist and a racist with criminal convictions to match), Mr. Griffin is a clever politician. During his leadership, the BNP's image in the public eye has changed from that of booted skinhead hooligans to a party that can achieve a respectable share of the vote in elections.
However, you barely need to scratch the surface to discover that they're still the same racist yobs that they always were, and one of the most effective ways to demonstrate this is to look at those the BNP choose as their political friends. Mr. Griffin has faced problems in the past when photographs of him on stage looking distinctly pally with the Ku Klux Klan's Stephen "Don" Black were published. Not long after that, it emerged that James von Brunn - the gunman who opened fire in Washington's Holocaust Museum - had links to the party (Griffin calls the Holocaust the "Holohoax," incidentally). In 1995, William Pierce, founder and leader of the USA's National Alliance - a group which celebrated the 100th anniversary of Hitler's birth and referred to him as "the greatest man of our era" - spoke at the BNP's annual rally in London. Other members of the organisation have spoken on several occasions at BNP fund-raising events in the USA. And there are many others.
Yet another example comes to light in the wake of this year's Red, White and Blue festival. Red, White and Blue is an annual event organised by the BNP and held on land belonging to a supporter in Derbyshire; this year, it was attended by around 1500 people - worryingly, that's twice as many as last year. Highlights of the festival included talks by Mr. Griffin himself (including one on the subject of tracing your ancestors - and no doubt how to cover up the facts if you discover that dear old Granny was Jewish) and some no doubt hilarious comedy from Mad Frankie Waller (sadly, Mr. Waller seems to live in the same century his political leanings belong to - he doesn't have a website, so you'll have to do without a sample of his material).
Those festival-goers so inclined were given the opportunity to sit down and listen to speeches given by foreign guests - one of them in the shape of Roberto Fiore, the leader of Italy's far-right Forza Nuova and a man who once said that he is happy to be described as a neo-fascist, talking about the alleged threat Europe faces from what has become known as Islamic extremism (we say "what has become known as" because a five minute conversation on the subject with any well-informed, intelligent Muslim will reveal there is nothing Islamic whatsoever about attacks such as those carried out in London in 2005 and Madrid in 2004).
Roberto Fiore, leader of Italy's far-right Forza Nuova and a man who says he is happy to be called a neo-fascist, spoke at the BNP's Red, White and Blue festival last weekend.Back in 1985, Mr. Fiore was sentenced to ten years in prison for being a member of the outlawed terrorist group Armed Revolutionary Nuclei who carried out the 1980 Bologna bombing which killed 85 people and wounded 200 (Fiore was tried in his absence, remaining out of Italy until the conviction was "timed out" under the country's statute of limitation laws, and returned home in 1999). The organisation also assassinated magistrate Mario Amato, who had been investigating far-right activities and groups and carried out another 33 murders during the four years that it was active.
You can tell a great deal about somebody according to the company they choose to keep, don't you think?