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BNP ‘could split’ over Black members case

NickgriffinNick Griffin’s humiliating climbdown, when he caved in to a legal challenge over the BNP’s ban on accepting non-white members, now looks set to split the British National Party

The BNP leader will ask his high command to accept a court undertaking to revise their party’s constitution, but the far-right party has a history of angry, sometimes violent, internal disputes over the presence of ethnic minorities in their ranks.

In 2006, several BNP members including a regional organiser left the party in disgust after an Armenian, Sharif Abdel Gawad, was adopted as a BNP council candidate in Bradford, in west Yorkshire.

This followed another internal row after BNP candidate Charlie Bickerstaffe was photographed with his arm around his black Zimbabwean son-in-law.

There was further huge dispute in 2001, which led to more resignations and a pub punch-up, when The Voice quoted a BNP candidate declaring his love for his black mixed-race grandchildren.

Yesterday, Griffin bowed to a legal challenge by Trevor Phillips’ Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), which argued that the party’s constitution, which only accepted “Caucasians” as members, was an illegal breach of race relations laws.

Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, welcomed the BNP’s climbdown, which came after a series of belligerent statements by Griffin claiming he would not give in under any circumstances.

Woolley said there was a possibility of anti-racists, Black and white, testing out the BNP’s constitution by trying to join. He said: ‘For many in the BNP, any association with Black people profoundly goes against what they stand for.

‘Anti-racists may want to join for a multitude of reasons, and expose the underlining racism within the party. This will cause problems with the party’s base who intensely despise Black people.’

Last month Griffin accused OBV of bringing his party “to the verge of collapse”.

Griffin’s u-turn comes after the BNP had previously refused to change their constitution. The Guardian reporting this in August:

“The BNP has said that it is not willing to amend its membership criteria which we believe are discriminatory and unlawful,” said John Wadham the commission’s group director.

Although Griffin has been forced to eat his words, following his capitulation, any change to the BNP’s constitution does not mean they have suddenly become a democratic party, as Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti points out today.

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