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BNP: Looking beneath the suits
THE BRITISH National Party (BNP) diligently cultivates its new image of smart suits and 'legal' respectability. But their recently elected MEPs (BNP leader Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons) contradict this image. Griffin studied history and law at Cambridge and Brons lectured in politics and law at Harrogate college, but they have had run-ins with 'the law' over their extreme racist ideas.
In the 1960s Brons was a member of the National Socialist Movement, open admirers of Adolf Hitler, who were responsible for an arson campaign against synagogues. He then joined the National Front (NF) where he stood as candidate and edited their far-right manifesto in the 1983 election.
In October 1983, Brons led NF supporters handing out leaflets in Leeds city centre, shouting slogans including "white power" and "death to Jews". When a police officer of Malaysian origin asked them to disperse, Brons replied: "I am aware of my legal rights. Inferior beings like you probably do not appreciate the principle of free speech." Brons was convicted of using insulting words and behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace and was fined £50.
Nick Griffin had read Hitler's Mein Kampf by the age of 13, and joined the NF when at public school. He later led a breakaway NF faction with fascist Roberto Fiore, who was wanted by Italy's police after the bombing of Bologna railway station in 1980 which left 85 dead and 200 injured.
The BNP has 'moderated' its public image, but its leaders' violent, fascist past will always come back to haunt it.