Wednesday, March 14, 2007

East Anglia visit

We start the week with an early morning journey to Lincoln, via a brief rendevous in Northampton. We meet Richard Foster, the city’s tireless and ultra efficient BNP organiser on the edge of town, then hook up with a reporter and camera girl from BBC Look North before heading straight off to meet some local activists and candidates.

The street where we stop has a big spread of fading bouquets near one end, tributes to a popular young local man who was – allegedly, as we have to say - stabbed to death with a Samurai sword by a piece of white trash who was moved onto the same street from somewhere down south not so long before. The accused’s house is boarded up – angry locals forced his family to move within twenty four hours of the killing.

Further along the street there are BNP posters up in windows of a good quarter of the houses. Our candidate here caused a degree of excitement in the local press when they heard that he’s Jamaican. Indeed he is, in terms of where he was born and his accent. But what they forgot was that Jamaica always had a small white population – some descended from Cavaliers deported after Cromwell’s victory in the English Civil War, others from white indentured slaves, more still from the West Country men who rebelled against James ll in support of the Duke of Monmouth in the 1680s, and finally more as managers and administrators when the islands were part of the Empire.

So they were astounded to find that Michael Watts and his family are all as white as you and me. It’s like the Duke of Wellington said when he was called ‘Irish’ on account of having been born in Ireland to a family which was part of the Protestant Anglo Aristocracy: “If a cat has kittens in a stable it doesn’t make them horses.” Politically incorrect of course, but none the less true for that.

So what’s he doing in Lincoln? After independence, life for Jamaica’s white minority became harder and harder (one of those lessons of history that always comes as a shock to those who refuse to learn from the past), and Michael’s entire family returned to their English homeland in 1979. He’s clearly a popular character on his estate, and I was pleased to be able to put a few leaflets out for him and chat with sympathetic neighbours. We hope to be standing candidates in all eleven of Lincoln’s wards and there will be some good votes.

Mistaken identity

We go round the corner to do the TV interview. A group of young teenagers stand watching us from across the road. One of their mothers comes out of a nearby house and yells at them: “Get away from those weirdos, we’re Catholics.” Blank looks all round. What on earth is she on about? Looking at our suits and ties – in the middle of the day on a clinging-to-decency-by-its-fingernails estate -one of the local supporters with us suddenly twigs. “She thinks we’re Jehovah’s Witnesses!” The misunderstanding is duly cleared up and one of the young lads duly comes over and politely asks for a ‘flyer’. Ghastly Americanism, over here it’s a leaflet, but we let him off as his heart’s in the right place.

Then it’s off to one of Lincoln’s huge Victorian industrial complexes down by the city’s waterside. The engineering jobs have long been globalised away of course, but among the non-wealth producing replacements is the office of the local independent radio station. A thoroughly sensible interview there is followed by another with a pretty but ludicrously brainwashed and guilt-ridden upper class young blonde from the generally hostile Lincoln Echo. She has all the right questions - Islamophobia, 'gay' adoption, badly 'needed' Poles – who turn out to include one dentist and thousands of potato pickers, whose presence allows the supermarkets and gangmasters to get even more out of the farmers and public.

Fortunately the photographer is much more normal. We cross the busy road and canal next to a fine Victorian brick warehouse with modern extensions in steel and smoked glass - for once it works. Next door is a huge modern glass building which catches sunset in a spectacular blaze of orange and red. It’s a stunning backdrop and the pictures in the viewfinder look really atmospheric and arty. I tell him it's a shame the editor will probably crop off all the background and print it in black and white and he ruefully agrees.

The evening’s meeting is very well organised. Behind the table hangs a large hand-sewn, non-imported Union Flag, a donation from a lady who felt it wrong for a nationalist party to use tacky imported flags from China. A good literature and merchandise table, and a raffle take care of the background fundraising needs.

Sadie Graham, the East Midlands regional organiser speaks first. She is doing a great job as our first ever full-time Group Development officer. She has already clocked up 30,000 miles in this role – in her own car, which is something that is clearly unsustainable and we’re going to have to put right pretty soon. Such are the hidden costs of running a party as effective and professional as this one.

Among the enthusiastic audience are several refugees from UKIP. These are serious level local officials and we’re pleased to hear at the end of the meeting that they have made up their minds to join us.

We stay in a fine old Victorian farmhouse in a lovely part of the Lincolnshire Wolds. We arrive at gone midnight and turn in pretty promptly as it’s been a long day.


Wake to glorious sun and birdsong. There are a black Labrador and a ginger cat in the farmhouse kitchen – very traditional. After breakfast the cat sits in the sun outside, rocking to and fro and he nods off. I take him a piece of bacon rind and the ginger cat is well content with life.

Heading back to Lincoln we pass miles of tiny new hedgeplants in protective plastic sleeves. For decades we’ve wasted millions in taxpayers' money for farmers to rip up two hundred year old (minimum) hedges. Now we're paying them millions to put them back. Still, in ten years time they'll be a decent size and the landscape in this part of England at least will begin to recover from the disaster of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (as uniquely badly applied in Britain thanks to the anti-family farm agribusiness faction that has dominated the National Farmers' Union since the end of World War Two).

The Times has picked up on the story in the Independent about my being seen at the 100th Cambridge v Oxford Varsity Boxing Match in York Hall, the spiritual home of East London’s great boxing tradition. Unfortunately the Light Blues lost 5-4, but I ran into several contemporaries, and one of our Liverpool activists who also fought and won for Cambridge in this fixture a few years after me. It’s a small world. A number of gentlemen I’ve never even met before made a point of coming over and shaking my hand at some point in the gripping evening.

The boxers, on average, seem to be slightly fitter than we were (and we trained three hours a day, six days a week) but there doesn’t seem quite so much aggression – there is not a single knockdown in the entire night, although the referees repeatedly leap in to give standing counts. I suppose it beats the risk of brain damage, but it really isn’t the same as it was thirty years ago, when the Varsity Match was such a grudge fixture that some of the heavier weights especially fought each other through a haze of blood and nothing less than a knockdown ever produced a count.

I have a feeling that, as well as the headguards that we never used, amateurs these days use heavier gloves. We used to be able to feel our knuckles through our fighting gloves – a truly terrifying experience when you put them on for the first time just moments before stepping into the ring. The difference of a couple of ounces of padding would surely explain how I put two of my three Oxford opponents down on the canvass a total of five times, each in the first round, before those fights were stopped. Bear in mind that, compared to some of our team (and Oxford’s, for that matter, I was inexperienced and very much a novice).

If I’m wrong on that then we’re in trouble; a nation that has lost the ability to teach its boxers to use every ounce of their weight when punching is decadent beyond redemption. Anyone who knows the answer to this one, please drop me an email.

The prizes were presented by, among others, Barry McGuigan and Dave ‘Boy’ Green.

A student journalist from Oxford collars me for a brief interview. His final question is both apposite and different: “Have I ever had occasion to use my boxing skills outside the ring?” I reply with a smile and the words ‘No Comment’, although on reflection I suppose it wouldn’t have hurt to have told him the truth: Exactly two weeks ago in Sussex – and this is the first day since that my knuckles haven’t felt sore!

The post-match gathering was in the Blind Beggar – the pub where Jack the Hat found that it didn’t pay to cross the Krays. To be honest it’s rather ordinary now, although friendly enough.

Back in Lincoln I’ve got another radio interview. A probing but professional journalist from BBC Radio Lincoln asks awkward questions but allows me to answer them fully. This is proper, adult journalism the way it should be, and would clearly interest a lot of readers, whether they are for or against us. – I only hope the editor follows suit and broadcasts a representative cross-section of our discussion.

Then it’s round the corner to a daffodil-filled old graveyard with one of the ancient city wall gateways in the background, where another TV camera is waiting. This is for an interview with a specialist in local government, Richard Orange, who runs a website on the subject as well as providing footage and programmes to broadcast channels as a freelancer.

He asks about the Standards Board and monitoring officers and I explain the BNP’s concern that the growing power of appointed bureaucrats over elected councilors is another nail in the coffin of democratic local government. It’s all of a piece with the removal of so much financial power under Maggie Thatcher, and more recent attacks by John Prescott’s deputy PM office on the right of councilors even to speak on issues on which they have already expressed an opinion.

This has led – as it was intended to by a regime hell-bent on abolishing what remains of effective local democracy and replacing it with artificial Euro regions – to the ridiculous position where councilors elected on a certain campaign ticket (typically for voicing popular local opposition to greenfield building development) are then forbidden by unelected bureaucrats from speaking or voting on the issue on behalf of their constituents once they are elected.

Next we head to a local repairs garage, owned by one of our members, where one of the main men has agreed to be one of Lincoln’s eleven BNP candidates in May. He is standing in the surrounding ward, where a key issue is the proposed conversion of an historic corrugated iron clad church (known as the ‘Tin Tabernacle’, and one of only a handful in the country) into – you guessed it – a mosque. Local people are furious that the church did the deal, selling the site to the leaders of Lincoln’s 1,500 strong Muslim community, for way below its market value – without saying a word to local residents. Our candidate was 26 years in the army and a sensible, head-screwed on sort of chap. Lincoln’s political elite are going to have a nervous April.

Model citizens

As we say our goodbyes I get a call from the Edinburgh student newspaper. This was arranged yesterday. I did a telephone interview with a desperately brainwashed posh-spoken English girl from there a couple of weeks ago, but was told yesterday that she was so shaken by the experience that she hasn’t felt able to write about it!

Hence the rescheduled interview is with two equally brainwashed lads. One English middle class, one a Scot so upper class that his accent has all but vanished. Oh dear! These are the types who would make perfect, unquestioning, model citizens in any society in which they were brought up. Young Pioneers, Hitler Youth, Red Guards, whatever, just spoonfeed them the State pap of the day and they’d regurgitate it.

They are, predictably, fixated on the rights of gays and Muslims, and are simply incapable of seeing the impossible incoherence of such a position. Being taught by teachers taught by lecturers who have all abandoned genuine notions of right and wrong, their moral compasses spin wildly, settling only on their own pet issues.

They seem genuinely incapable of seeing that the right of homosexuals to do what they want in private needs to be balanced by the right of the heterosexual majority to send their children to primary schools where they will not have homosexuality forced down their throats at the age of four or five. They sincerely think that our policy of gently but firmly putting homosexuals back in the closet to do whatever they want to each other in private is ‘hate-filled’, whereas the mainstream Islamic penalty of stoning to death is somehow no threat to homosexuals. Perhaps, strangely enough, it’s a form of subliminated racism, I suggest; do they expect ‘brown’ people to behave less decorously than hideously white ones? Student Grant and his mate are not impressed and quickly change the subject.

They say they found one thing on our website “particularly risible.” I ask what they found so funny and am told that it is our ‘claim’ that scores of young white girls in northern English towns have been ‘groomed’ for sex and gang raped by racist Muslim paedophiles.

Do we really say ‘scores’? I ask them incredulously. They scent a retraction and gleefully confirm the figure. “Well, I’m sorry”, I say, “That’s badly wrong.” I pause and can almost hear them drooling on the floor. “It should say thousands” I tell them, “It’s an epidemic in places like Keighley, Blackburn, Bradford and Oldham.”

“Where are the statistics to support such a claim?” they demand. I explain, quite patiently at first, that there are none, because the police and local authorities try desperately to turn blind eyes to the problem.

“Why would they do that?” one of them asks. “Because the last time the police upset the Muslims in Bradford the resulting riot cost more than twenty million quid. And the police know they just couldn’t control another one.”

But they are still, I think, genuinely incapable of grasping the problem. In the end their constant excuse-making and willful blindness becomes annoying and I put the verbal boot into their most tender intellectual parts: “Stop believing what your teachers and the BBC have told you. Get your middle class arses down to Bradford and talk to some real people about the real problems on working class estates.” Again, they move swiftly on.

There is the same comprehension gap, and specious fifth form debating society logic, when it comes to the contrast between Islam and Christianity. Because some Christians some hundreds of years ago killed non-Christians and burned witches, it follows to them that it is unfair to condemn modern day Islam in any way because Christianity is just as bad.

Because I’m being driven and have nothing better to do for a few minutes I take them through the various points that rebut this nonsense. Among these is the fact that, if a powerful and growing Christian sect was threatening to create a theocracy where old ladies living alone with their cats would be burnt to death, and where democracy and free speech would be replaced by the rule of a handful of clerics, I would be at the forefront of the campaign to warn of the dangers and restrict their powers.

But they are not, so it is not an issue. Unlike the position with Islam. Again, they are either incapable of understanding the point, or pretend to be.

Beer bible

Still, we get to the end of the interview and they thank me politely enough. Then it’s grab the BNP speaking tour Good Book (the CAMRA Good Beer Guide) and find somewhere en route to Holbeach for lunch. We pass two hares in adjacent fields. We don’t get them in our part of Wales and I haven’t seen one for years. Unfortunately they’re not together and boxing as Mad March Hares really do when fighting for the favours of a female.

Years ago at home we used to eat them occasionally – jugged hare is one of the great dishes of English yeoman cookery - but I wouldn’t do so now; there just don’t seem to be enough of them around and they’re too elegant and inspirational to watch.

Exactly halfway is the village of Ewerby – about a mile off the A17. The Finch Hatton Arms is described as “retaining the charm of its past”. And that’s exactly what it does. The best English pubs are either plain rustic or town spit-and-sawdust, or mildly eccentric. This is one of the latter. Old farm implements and hunting prints adorn the walls alongside a row of brass hares. The heavily beamed ceiling is clearly a flight of fancy by some long-dead architect, large parts of it definitely have no structural value but it does look the part. The heavy glass paned front door is engraved with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “I have the simplest of tastes – I only like the best.” Thinking of Oscar – beware of the strange hidden step on the way to the toilet.

The guest beer is Summer Lightning, from Salisbury’s Hopback Brewery. The distinctive green man on a yellow label marks an unusually good bottled beer, but it’s absolutely superb on draught. Still, it’s lunchtime so I stick to one. Plus a fine locally made steak and kidney pie. Sometimes the fight to preserve our native culture and traditions is an onerous one!

All too soon we have to head on to Holbeach, where we’ve got another local paper photoshoot and interview booked. This is another young lady reporter, but this interview turns out to be a sensible one – purely about our policies and local issues.

That completes the work until the evening so we tuck ourselves away at the home of a local activist. I do some urgent paperwork I’ve had to bring away with me and then settle down to some work on the laptop, first tidying up and expanding the current blog entries, then carrying on with my article for April’s Identity.

The evening meeting is again a success. A good crowd in a small town like Holbeach, although I’m pleased to learn that people have traveled up from Peterborough and the Fens, where Sadie’s Group Development work is bearing fruit. Local BNP councillor the Rev. Robert West is one of several local speakers. I forego a formal speech and instead take questions, which makes a change and gives everyone a chance to find out what they want to about the party rather than what I want them to. People seem to appreciate such an open approach, in such stark contrast to the defensive spin of pre-prepared speeches employed by Blair, Cameron and Co.

The venue has a bar but it only has nasty fizzy chemical ‘beer’ so I stick to Diet Coke. Now that is a hardship!

Our host tonight is a highly qualified weather station systems analyst. The first real expert on the weather who I’ve had the chance to question about global warming. He installs, and manages over the Internet, weather stations as far away as Indonesia. So is global warming happening? If so is it man-made or a natural cycle?

He isn’t doctrinaire about it but on balance believes that we’re just in a natural warming phase and that various people have simply seized on it as an excuse for internationalising government and screwing yet more taxes out of us.

I’d already come to the same tentative conclusion, although I think it best to assume that the jury is still out and to avoid upsetting people who are genuinely convinced that global warming is a man-made phenomenon. BNP policies designed to meet the challenge of fossil fuel depletion would, in any case, tend to cut pollution and carbon emissions, so we don’t need to pick fights or fall out on this contentious issue.