Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ancient horn dance and an eye on the future

First, for regular readers, the promised brief update on my home-made cold smoker. Here it is in all its wife-offending Heath Robinson/Stig of the Dump simplicity. An ancient cast iron boiler back holds a slow-burning fire of hardwood. Once this has die down saw dust is piled on top and a sheet of thin metal (in this case an old aluminium offset litho printing plate cut and bent to fit) is put over to keep in most of the smoke. This then finds it way up a length of old flexible steel flue pipe and into a hole roughly cut in the back of a defunct upright deep freeze, where the motor used to sit. The gaps where the pipe goes in are stuffed with moss. Holes drilled in the sides at the top help draw the smoke up.

I spread my garlic bulbs - already dried for several weeks - on the three top freezer shelves and watch with satisfaction as smoke starts to puff out of the holes at the top.

I relight the fire several times over the next couple of days, peering every now and then with satisfaction into the increasingly garlicky and smoky freezer. A single bulb taken out early makes the entire kitchen smell like something you'd encounter in a back-water village in rural France (not everyone's cup of tea, I am aware. Personally, though I object to be ruled by - inter alia - French bureaucrats, I’m very fond of the true, deep France and the customs, sights, tastes and aromas of our great ancient rival.

Another bulb stinks out the car when I take it to give it to Simon Darby, who also has an appreciation of organic home-grown veg and eccentric experiments.

But what of the result? There's a problem. Quite a big one in fact. Despite the heat-losing capability of the thin steel flue, on the last firing the smoke entering the smoking chamber clearly gets too hot. As a result the garlic bulbs - several hundred juicy cloves in all - are actually not cold smoked but hot smoked. i.e. partly cooked. Which wouldn't matter if I was going to use them over the next day or two, but no good as I wanted them to keep in the cool, dry pantry for the whole Autumn and ideally into the winter.

It's not a disaster, but I have to split them up into bulbs and freeze the whole lot. The whole freezer now reeks of smoked garlic but, never mind, the cloves defrost in minutes when taken out and are perfect in anything that needs garlic.

Next on the smoking agenda is some fish, and having seen the unbelievable price of smoked duck I'm planning on trying to produce my own. But first I've got to put in either a longer length of flue pipe or/and some kind of metal baffle system between the fire and the start of the chimney so as to reduce amount of heat gettingt to whatever is being smoked. Which means that the monstrosity will have to stay in the yard for a bit longer. In the meantime, any experienced-based home-smoking tips from readers would be much appreciated.

Meetings and Great White Record news

As always, the number of meetings dips in August. I do travel up to a very good one in York, where Ian Dawson and his team have built up a very effective branch. Nearly one hundred people are there, a mixture of committed members and new enquiries, including a group of local UKIP activists who are - like so many of their fellow patriots - 'thinking the unthinkable' (switching to the BNP).

I speak about the convergence of four destabilising catastrophes: The bursting debt bubble (this several weeks before the Northern Rock debacle); Peak Oil (now rapidly becoming mainstream as newspapers, oil companies and Cameron's green guru Zac Goldsmith alike playing catch-up with the independent geologists and the BNP); the destruction of popular trust in the political class thanks to betrayals such as Europe and the blatant push towards a police state, and the mass immigration and Islamism that the Ministry of Defence's main think-tank last year warned threatens the destruction of our civilisation within five to seven years.

Any one of these crises would go a long way towards discrediting an individual Government, their convergence will demolish the credibility of the entire political Establishment. It's not a light-weight speech but, as is always the case when one treats an adult audience as adults, instead of patronising them with simplistic soundbites as is the Lib-Lab-Con way, it is very well received. Some of the newcomers join up on the spot, and the landlady and staff all say how impressed they are. The collection, literature stall and raffle together raise nearly £1,000.

While in Yorkshire I meet with Alan Smith from Great White Records. Councillor Colin Auty's 'Truth Hurts' album is now out and selling well (as it deserves to, because Colin's passionate honesty and anger at what has been inflicted on the white working class in the former Heavy Woolen District of West Yorkshire has produced some very powerful lyrics and some great tunes. Freedom's Road will echo through the hearts and heads of BNP activists up and down the country, Where Has My Country Gone? will send a shiver down your spine, and the non-political Book By Its Cover is a classic every bit as good as the best songs written by any mainstream modern folk singer).

So Alan and Dave Hannam are now working on no fewer than four forthcoming albums, with the target of releasing them by Christmas. This next wave will significantly broaden the GW genre, including as it does Country and heavy rock albums. Alan is hoping that this first broadening will lead on to others; he's particularly keen to find some younger bands who want to produce material that sounds very much like the types of music listened to by the majority of youngsters, but with a rebellious nationalist 'edge' to it. If you understand the importance of this project - and if you also want some enjoyable listening - you can help by buying Great White's first releases, and by keeping your eyes and ears open for up-and-coming young bands who might be willing to sign up.

A few days later I'm Shrewsbury, my first time speaking here as a year ago there were only a handful of members and supporters. Tonight there are more than fifty, and I meet keen new organisers and activists who have travelled from several of this lovely county's smaller towns, including Ludlow, Market Drayton and Oswestry. Shrewsbury organiser Carl Foulkes chairs the meeting and gives a really effective opening speech, followed by a particularly passionate and efective call to action from Wolverhampton's dynamic Steve Haddon (who I recommend as a speaker for any West Midlands branch than can grab him).

After the break I decide they've had enough solid speeches and do a Q&A session instead. Unusually, the audience keeps coming back to different aspects of the immigration problem, though we do also look at subjects as varied as nuclear power, restoring our education system and dealing with crime. Another very successful meeting.

A day at the show - and an historic victory

The first Saturday in September sees a day off, and a visit to our local area agricultural show. The Llanfair Show has been going since 1948 and is, like all such events, an understated but great way to spend a few hours. It helps when you know so many people there, but even stray tourists clearly enjoy the mixture of arena displays such as falconry, steam-driven machinery, horses, fox hounds, side-shows, trade stands, craft and vegetable competitions, hog roasts, beer tent, etc. Sadly this year there are no sheep or cattle - the unbelievable incompetence of Government agencies having been summed up this year by the leak of the foot-and-mouth virus from a broken pipe at the Research Centre which makes the FMD vaccine that is never even allowed to be used in Britain. Millions of pounds worth of damage to a vital industry already on its knees, hundreds of animals slaughtered, and not a single tax-eater gets the sack. Typical.

I've heard this year of several BNP branches that have taken stalls at rural and small town shows. All have been well received, with outstanding levels of interest, ranging from curiousity to enthusiastic support, from the typical representatives of Middle England and Wales who attend such events. These forays into new territory are absolutely vital preparation work for the European Elections of June 2009, and I hope that even more will see a BNP presence next year.

The month also sees another bit of very welcome BNP history. Alderton ward in Epping Forest produces our first by-election win in three years, and our first ever successful defence of a ward in a by-election caused by the resignation of one of our councillors. A hard-fought campaign masterminded by Eddy Butler and helped by a first class candidate who both wanted and worked to win, and by the tireless work of our other sitting local councillor Rod Law, led to a BNP victory over the well-established Local Residents Association.

A little unnoticed in the euphoria (and the now routine humiliation of the unfortunate UKIP victim, who scrapped up just 28 votes) was the really Big Picture message sent out by the fact that the BNP and LRA - in other words the anti-System candidates - took twice as many votes as the Tories, Labour and LibDems combined. When the anti-Establishment earthquake which is steadily building up finally occurs, such events will be belatedly understood for the early warning signs they truly are.

Referendum Call

For several weeks it’s been well nigh impossible to read a day’s emails without finding among the adverts for Viagra and penis extensions a call to sign a petition for a referendum on the new EU Treaty/Constitution. I have signed it, and we have called on our activists to get involved with the push to get people to the proposed Referendum Rally in Central London on 27th October.

But both are done with reservations. For a start, the realistic view of that rally is that, despite its professed aim of 500,000 attendees, it will be a surprise if the organisers can get 5,000 there. Of course the issue is more important than the hunting ban, but the Countryside Alliance was working with a network of extraordinarily powerful local social grapevines and on an issue that stirs far deeper passions in most of its enthusiasts than opposition to the EU does in the majority even of Euro-realists.

More important still is the fact that I remember all too well the Common Market referendum of 1975, in which I was involved as a teenage activist for the ‘No’ campaign. We never stood a chance: the question was loaded; the ‘Yes’ campaign was backed by all the main parties; our side had one booklet sent to each household, while the lie-filled ‘Yes’ booklet was seconded by the Government’s ‘recommendation’ document; Big Business and the BBC; worst of all the other side was able to outspend us by a factor of eleven to one.

There cannot be the slightest doubt that any fresh referendum would be just as rigged. Naturally we in the BNP would do our best to help the anti-EU campaign overcome the drastically sloping playing field, but the chances of success would be very slim. Basically, Governments don’t call referenda that they are not confident of winning.

It gets worse: That means that a successful call for a referendum on this life-or-death question of national freedom would in all probability merely give the Europhiles a popular democratic mandate for their treason. The fact that any such vote would be secured by essentially dishonest means wouldn’t make much difference; once ‘the people’ vote ‘in favour’ of the Treaty that looks like a Constitutional duck, walks like a Constitutional duck and quacks like a Constitutional duck, then the political elite can claim that their nation-wrecking spree was done by permission of the Great British Public. Which would a) legitimise what they’ve done; b) make it harder to undo, and c) give them some defence when we put them on trial for treason – under the old rules, complete with the traditional penalties.

So we can only shake our heads in bewilderment at the well-meaning naivety of the good-hearted souls calling for a referendum. And we are only going along with their October 27th protest in order to reinforce our right – as the party with far more popular support than UKIP (since their MEPs’ decision to vote in favour of a Europe-wide school curriculum to oppose ‘xenophobia’, some now spell that EuKIP, by the way) – to lead the battle to free Britain from Europe.

We will be there to recruit, to try to save good activists wasting their time in one or other of the plethora of anti-EU groups going nowhere, among which UKIP is now undoubtedly the worst. It reminds me of the slogan the Socialist Workers Party used to roll out at election times: “Vote Labour, But With No Illusions”.

An Ancient Festival

11th September. I’m tempted to nip over to Brussels to take part in the banned anti-Islamic protest outside the European Parliament, but it’s unclear what’s going to happen and, in any case, we’ve got an Advisory Council meeting booked and as we haven’t had one for more than three months and there’s a General Election threat, it really shouldn’t be put back.

Plus, the 11th this year also just happens to be the first Monday after the first Sunday after the 4th September – the obscure formula that sets the date for the annual Horn Dance Festival in the Staffordshire village of Abbots Bromley.

Each year, six local men each take a set of ancient reindeer antlers which are kept for the rest of the year in the church and carry them along a route through the village and to various outlying farms that it takes most of the day to complete. They are accompanied by several other strangely attired individuals, including a Fool and Maid Marion.

Every now and again they stop to dance, always the same dance, to tunes from an accordion player. It’s actually indescribable, so as well as giving you several photographs there’s also a short video clip HERE (first time I’ve used video in this blog, let’s hear if you like it).

We arrive just before eight in the morning, in order to attend the short church service that marks the start of the day. Several of the dancers pay moving tributes to one of their number who died earlier this year, after taking part in more than fifty years of Horn Dances. It is quite literally in their blood, with several families traditionally providing the majority of recruits, generation after generation.

How many generations? No one knows, but all the evidence is that this is not a romantic Victorian cultural nationalist ‘revival’. A fragment from a broken horn was carbon-dated some years ago, producing the remarkable date of approximately 1065 – the year before the Norman Conquest. And local tradition is that the horns now in use are in turn replacements for an earlier set.

Which raises the serious possibility that the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is a genuine survival, in an unbroken line, of a pre-Christian, pre-historic tradition, presumably a piece of sympathetic magic at the start of the hunting season. And, given what we now know about how DNA evidence shows that the modern natives of this land are largely descended from the First People who settled this land at the end of the last Ice Age, this makes it conceivable that this celebration has taken place at the end of every summer since Palaeolithic times. Perhaps 15,000 years old – and it’s ours.

After bacon butties provided by the WI and the local vicar, we head on our way, leaving two of our party to spend the day there while Simon Darby and I head on to the AC meeting, which conveniently is less than fifty miles away.

At the meeting we start with working out our plans for a snap General Election. How many seats should we fight? What criteria should we use? Is there a realistic possibility that the number of votes secured in the next General Election will subsequently be used to decide the amount of state funds to be given to each political party, and could we also cross whatever threshold is set? How much should we spend? Where should the money come from? What publicity material should we use? So many questions, and all have to be debated and answered one by one.

The answers that emerge will be given in detail in our Organisers’ Bulletin, in the British Nationalist BNP members’ bulletin, in Identity and online. But in simple terms, our plan is as follows:

Mindful of the need to build up our reserves for the more winnable London Assembly (May 2008) and European Parliamentary elections (June 2009), we will not be funding a snap General Election centrally. If units or individuals who are suitable candidates want to fight their local seats, then they must raise the money;

We are expecting a significant increase in the number of seats being fought, well up from the 111 contested in 2005. The key reason for aiming to fight more seats is the need to get our core supporters in as many places as is practicably possible used to the idea that we are always on the ballot paper, so as to maximise our vote in the proportional representation European elections;

There will be two levels of campaign: The Standard Campaign will involve a full colour A4 leaflet, personalised to the constituency in several ways, delivered by the Post Office to every home. Plus back-up standardised leaflets for hand delivery, posters and a limited amount of advertising. Including the £500 deposit, this will cost £2,000;

A Basic Campaign will simply consist of a limited amount of local advertising, posters and standardised leaflets for hand delivery. Including the £500 deposit, this will cost £800;

All monies to cover these costs must be paid in to units’ regional accounts with time to clear before the printing deadline, which will be set as soon as an election is called. There will be no credit.

It is anticipated that units which are short of cash will set themselves the £800 target to start with and, if they have reached that before the election is called, give serious consideration to moving on to raise funds for the more expensive Standard Campaign.

Of course, by modern standards, and on an individual unit basis, the sums of money we’re talking about here are not a particularly big deal. But multiplied by – for example – an extra 50 seats, they add up at an alarming rate. Particularly when we also have to raise at least £50,000 by the start of April in order to fight even the most basic campaign in the crucial proportional representation London Assembly elections next May. And when we need to raise half a million pounds by the Spring of 2009 if we are to begin to do justice to our chances in the European Elections of June that year.

Tempting though it is to show how important we are by splashing out in the General Election, the plain truth is that – outside of a tiny number of very special places – we do not a snowball’s chance in hell of winning seats in that first-past-the-post contest. All that over-extending ourselves in it would achieve is to leave us without enough money to pay for serious campaigns in the next two year’s PR elections in which we can win.

Thus, while giving the green light for a significant increase in our General Election tally where local units are keen to fight and comfortably able to raise the money, we are also stressing that every single BNP region is required to collect a monthly levy from every branch and group. Not after the money for a possible snap General Election has been raised, but while it is being raised.

Conference Motions

Having worked out the strategy and mechanics of our electioneering schedule over the next couple of years, we then move on to review the motions for this autumn’s Conference. These have been put forward by the Voting Members from regional meetings. Each region is allowed to put forward three motions on party policy, with one from each area going through as of right.

As expected, there is a wide range of proposals. A few are automatically disqualified because they relate to tactical and organisational matters and it would clearly be madness to tie the hands of the party leadership and administrative staff by creating the precedent that decisions that need to be made ‘on-the-hoof’ in order to deal with problems or opportunities as soon as they arise, have to left until they can be debated by Conference.

The policy motions, on the other hand, are gone through methodically, not least with a view to variety of subjects and a balance between motions which should tend to promote a sense of enthusiastic unity, and several which are sure to create the lively debate and disagreements that a serious party needs to learn to hold without rancour and subsequent fallings out.

The process takes several hours, but we end up with an agreed list of motions that will be circulated shortly so that they can be discussed locally. It is particularly important that Voting Members who wish to oppose any particular motion (naturally enough all of them already have proposers and seconders) have the chance to do their homework and present the most effective case.

The only other business at the AC is a brief explanation of how our new Central Management Team is going to work. This is a panel of three volunteer long-standing party activists, each of whom has literally decades of business management experience, who will from now on be handling internal staff management affairs such as contracts, the setting of targets and the holding of reviews, rates of pay, dispute resolutions and such like.

While it is assumed that the CMT will change and evolve over the years, the initial three are Tony Brewer, Michaela McKenzie and Mark Clutterbuck. Their CVs – both political and professional – are impressive, and their work should go a long way to creating the internal systems and controls we need to ensure that the members whose generosity pays for our growing staff get value for money.

Dusk falls on the dawn of time

After the meeting we head back to Abbots Bromley to pick up the two of our party we left there in the morning. The main street is now pretty much packed with people. Half a dozen Morris sides are by now largely mixed up, each dance involving a different combination of uniforms as those who still have the energy (or sobriety) to take part perform for the enthusiastic, beery crowd.

The Horn Dancers themselves return to the village for one last dance set before returning their antlers to the church for another year. The sun has set; the combination of the gathering dusk and the larger crowd adds even more to the atmosphere. The horns are briefly silhouetted against the darkening sky – it’s a breath-stopping image and I curse myself for being too slow with the camera because the same effect with the Morris Dancers sticks is something special. Reluctantly, we leave for home and return to the modern world.

Tory Party Suicide Watch

David Cameron is at it again. His unfortunate party followers are subjected to another set of drastically mixed messages.

First he produces one of the watered-down BNP policies that his massively taxpayer-funded research department steals off our website from time to time. He tries to grab the headlines with a ‘National Service (Very) Lite’ proposal, under which teenagers would be paid £500 each in return for six weeks ‘community service’ during the Summer Holidays.

As it happens, he’s suggested dafter things, though the idea that a mere six weeks of feather-bedded pretence at discipline and service would actually make any real impression on your average Lesser Hooded Sloath is almost touchingly naïve. Two years, on the other hand, starting with a crash course in drill, fitness, accepting orders and citizenship, would be a different matter.

Still, Cameron’s glimmer of a real Idea probably would have earned him a few Brownie Points with large numbers of patriotic voters. Fortunately, however, he promptly goes on to throw it all away. He gets himself on prime-time TV with the latest heavily promoted Muslim boxer, Amir Khan.

That’s several hundred more right-wing Tory activists who will never lift a finger for or pay their subscriptions to the Conservative party again. And another tranche of voters reminded that today’s Tory party is a New Labour clone when it comes to professed enthusiasm for the Brave New Multi-Culti World that they’ve foisted on those of us who pay their inflated wages without so much as a “by your leave”

Conference Season

Talking of Labour, Brown promises at the TUC conference to 'eliminate' the BNP from the council chambers of Britain. How quaintly Stalinist! Still, together with his quasi-religious display of faith in ‘diversity’, it all helps to drum into the public’s collective consciousness the fact that we’re really different: The political party that all the political elite they hate love to hate.

Next in the public eye in conference season are the LibDems. More hari kiri politics as they put forward their Big Idea to deal with the problem of illegal mass immigration – legalise it by granting hundreds of thousands of unwanted lawbreakers amnesty and the ‘right’ to live here – either taking our taxes or our jobs – permanently.

Economic mayhem

While Tory, Labour and LibDem leaders alike continue to dig their parties’ political graves on the immigration issue, the first fall-out from the American sub-prime mortgage crisis drifts like a poisonous smog over the Atlantic and engulfs Northern Rock.

The scenes of desperate savers queuing round the block to withdraw their money are something that haven’t been seen in this country almost within living adult memory.

The bosses of the stricken bank deserve to be locked in sets of stocks outside their biggest branches, so that they can be pelted with rotten vegetables, eggs and house-bricks by the small savers and shareholders whose retirement plans are thrown into chaos by the consequences of their criminally bad management and short-sighted greed.

If the company threatened with collapse was in what remains of our manufacturing sector, if the livelihoods at risk were in farming or fishing, if the jobs on the line involved making something useful or helping to preserve our economic and national sovereignty, then we all know what would happen:

The Westminster Gang, and their friends in the City and in the pro-Big Business press would all shake their heads sadly and tell the sacked workers, the betrayed pensioners and the small investors that “we can’t interfere with the market” and that “failing companies must be allowed to go to the wall”.

But this is different, of course. The threat here isn’t primarily to ordinary people – the kind who Brown allowed to lose everything when the Provident sank without trace with their savings on board – but to a parasitic elite of professional gamblers and to the entire system of institutionalised usury, short-termism and greed that they operate.

So, predictably, Gordon Brown – cunningly disguised as the ‘independent’ Bank of England – rides to the rescue with vast amounts of tax-payers’ cash and inflation-boosting fiat money.

The Stock Market promptly ‘recovers’ somewhat, but no-one watching the continued and accelerating financial and economic meltdown in the USA can believe that Northern Rock will be the last we hear and see of economic dislocation. Nor of its impact on the poor, the over-stretched home ‘owner’ and on the future credibility of the politicians whose shallow idolatry of the ‘free market’. Crisis over? It’s scarcely even begun!

London Launch

Finally, for now, the briefest mention of the launch of our London Mayoral Campaign. On three successive nights our candidate, Barking & Dagenham Council Group leader Richard Barnbrook, London regional organiser Nick Erickson and I speak at big meetings (never less than one hundred at each) in East, South East and South West London.

During the daytimes I meet several key people for one-to-one party business discussions. Except on the Tuesday when I meet up with activists in Barking & Dagenham on a local day of action. While our Deputy Group leader Bob Bailey leads the leafleting team, Richard and I get busy painting out graffiti on walls and fences.

An hour ago these walls were covered in graffiti. Two coats later Richard and I have sorted the problem out.

Leafleting later that day.

There’s a real buzz about the place, especially in the third meeting, with the newly launched Wandsworth and Merton Branch, where at least 130 people pack into a noisy, good-humoured, passionate meeting in a Wine Bar in once-Liberal Cheam.

At each meeting, in addition to established BNP members and new recruits straight from the public, I meet old hands and old friends from the British nationalist movement in the 1970s, and also refugees from the imploding mayhem of UKIP.

Helped by a magnificent donation of more than £5,000 by BNP old hand and recent council candidate Steve Johnson (he’s been saving it up for years for the ‘right time’, and judges this to be it), we raise £12,000 in just three nights. This instantly gives us the money needed to pay for half a million big ‘warm-up’/recruitment leaflets, which will stat going out all over our capital city next month. Battle stations!

With Steve Johnson just after he gets our GLA fund off to a flying start in Barking.

The Greater London Assembly building. Just over the Thames from the Tower of London and our big target for next year.