New Leader : New Danger

Nick Griffin beats John Tyndall in BNP leadership contest.

The BNP have a new leader. Following a postal ballot of all members Nick Griffin secured 62 % of the vote thereby replacing John Tyndall at the head of the BNP.
This will come as something of a shock to the uninformed, (or to readers of Searchlight who are mostly misinformed) for while Griffin was correctly fingered as coveting Tyndall's title he was according to Searchlight' spin, in competition with Tony Lecomber for it. In fact Lecomber was Griffin's election agent! That Lecomber himself did not stand gives a key insight into the thinking of the 'modernisers'. Jailed for an attempted bombing in the early '80s and then again for a further three years for a violent assault in the early '90s, Lecomber was often at the forefront of clashes with AFA .
Of all possible leadership contenders, Lecomber has by some distance the most distinguished 'war record'. Nothing if not game, he ended up on the deck so often he was christened "Tarmac" by AFA militants. That apart, it was him rather than Griffin surprisingly, who first promoted Euro-Nationalism as the strategy of the future. Significantly as well, it was Lecomber rather than Tyndall who announced to the press in 1994 that 'the battle to control the streets was over and there would be no more meetings, marches, punch-ups'. All in all, Lecomber appeared to have the perfect pedigree; just the right amount of stamina, vision and thuggery required to replace Tyndall. Though unlike Tyndall he was never captured in full Nazi regalia, in all other respects Lecomber more than met the criteria of a brown-shirt of the old school. Rather too well for the modernisers liking however. Even Griffin, who has only a single 'white collar' conviction under the Race Relations Act (of which he is rather 'proud'), allows that if the links with Gadaffi or other 'youthful indiscretions', prove a handicap, the 'job of fronting our public image would be allotted to someone who presents even less of a target to the media'.
So 'media image' is an obvious reason for the modernisers to jettison a pronounced Mosleyite like Tyndall. Getting rid of Tyndall would also allow a clearing of deadwood such as Keith Axon, whose only talent is his loyalty to Tyndall. Griffin promises to replace them with 'under-used talented supporters' possibly including Eddy Butler, the architect of the Isle of Dogs victory in 1993. Butler along with others left the BNP not long after in disgust at Tyndall, who fearing he would be 'out-Nazied by Cl8', flatly refused to face down C18 politically. It is for such reasons that the majority came to accept Lecomber's view that the steady rise of the BNP was down to people 'other' than Tyndall.
Without doubt it was Tyndall's bizarre attempt in January 1996 to make a 'return to the streets' which sealed his fate. Only a humiliating climb down forestalled an instant leadership challenge then. This fatal blunder was a result of 'not knowing the situation on the ground'; not fully appreciating the "stiff opposition" to use Lecombers words that the BNP had faced from RA/AFA in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The only explanation for his ignorance is that fearful of his political reaction (ie a further lurch toward C18) if the graphic details were not kept from him, he was instead misled as a matter of routine.
Which helps explain why, though only a little younger, press officer Michael Newland dismisses Tyndall's political thinking as outdated and borne of "a wartime mindset" ie. "the assumption that the prospect of being attacked would stiffen the sinews of our sturdy British folk. In reality most run a mile." For Griffin, while citing an incident at Stockport British Rail station in 1986 where the NF did not "run" as his "proudest moment" (though being completely over run by a formidable outfit from Manchester was only prevented with the help of a fireman's axe!) Stockport was still for him the exception that proved the rule. Before the year was out, following yet another NF debacle in Bury St Edmonds at the hands of London AFA, Griffin foresaw what Tyndall would still be struggling with a decade later, ie. "the temptation to hold exciting but basically futile street activities... [to] very little effect, save to allow Red Action to use the NF threat to boost their own support on the streets. Now that he's in charge 'avoid the streets - avoid Red Action' will continue to be his motto.
Particularly, as at present, a mere doubling of the 20% turnout in the Euro Election in June 1999, (when the BNP still took over 100,000 votes) would leave them within shouting distance of the 250,000 votes accrued by the NF in its heyday in 1977. And with Griffin as front man (of a collective leadership) the BNP have completed the make over from 'Hollywood Nazi' to European Nationalist in little over five years. To even keep pace the conservative Left are going have to suffer the trauma of a similar transition. Up to know there is absolutely nothing to suggest they have either the ambition or the stomach for it. Accordingly, just as the Far-Right give the appearance of leaving the wilderness, the conservative Left seem destined to replace them there.

Reproduced from RA Vol 4, Issue 3, Oct/Nov '99