Building Our “New Model Army” Was Never Going To Be Popular Among Our Enemies
A vital explanation of the true state of play at a defining moment in our history, by BNP Leader Nick Griffin.
Last weekend I met with the members of the Advisory Council, the party’s governing body, made up of the men and women who – with due respect to our hundreds of dedicated local officials and thousands of hard-working activists – really ‘make the BNP tick.’
We heard and discussed a number of PowerPoint presentations, delivered by key officials and outside contractors. We saw just how far our organisation has developed in recent years:
* We now have absolutely the largest number of fully paid up members in party history (we are almost through the 15,000 membership target 6 months ahead of schedule and we continue to grow rapidly). The membership drop-out rate has been reduced from a shocking 70% three years ago to just 17%. The taps are on, and we’ve finally got the plug in!
* Our Belfast call centre has already telephoned well over 3,500 of the 10,000 inquiries that came in to the party centrally (thousands more were received locally), and has signed up nearly 900 of them as members on the spot.
* Last year’s accounts – on course to be submitted to the usual intense scrutiny of the Electoral Commission in July – show a fantastic rise in central income to £1.9 Million, of which £1,600,000 was raised in donations thanks to our main expert external contractor having developed for us the most sophisticated fund-raising operation in British political history. With our regional accounts also showing a massive increase, to a very healthy £254.000 this gives us a total turnover of approximately £2.353.201.20. This means we have left UKIP and the Greens standing, and are starting to press the Lib Dems!
* On top of that, our two European Parliament seats together bring in the following income (figures rounded into approximate Sterling values): £400,000 for staff and independent researchers; £80,000 for constituency office running costs; £80,000 ‘communications allowance’ to be spent explaining our work to our constituents.
Every penny of that Euro money is demonstrably spent on staff, offices, communications technology, office equipment and supplies, and on constituency newsletters and other advertising materials. With the fully equipped offices we also have in Brussels and Strasbourg, this means that our European successes last year have not only hugely raised our credibility and profile, but also give our campaigning efforts an extra budget of £500,000 a year. Of course, we can only use this on work directly related to our positions as MEPs, but it’s still a fantastic extra resource.
While money matters, the really important thing is what we do with it and that you can be sure we use it wisely. So just remember what our central organisational modernisation programme has achieved over the last two and a half hectic years.
At the end of 2007 we had our main phone contact point in a pensioner’s kitchen, a stuffing machine and digital printer in our main administrator’s cramped spare bedroom, a crumbling second floor industrial unit, and half a dozen people with no business experience between them working from their homes.
One of these home workers was our membership secretary, who had to work with a crude spreadsheet that was barely fit to keep the membership records of the Dog and Duck dominoes club. It was all very worthy and well-meant, and it had been enough to bring us from having just over 1,000 members in 1999 to having by June 2008, 8983 paid up members, but it was amateur and naive, and incapable of expanding further.
So I knew we had to change, to modernise our organisation just as we had modernised our politics. As ‘political animals’ we had known what to do to make ourselves electable and to win ourselves a place in the vocabulary and affections of millions of our fellow Brits. And as you know, together we’ve done just that.
But frankly we didn’t have a clue in terms of business-level organisation. How could we have? We’re idealists and rebels, not business advisers or top-flight managers.
Not long after I was elected to lead this party (more accurately, to drag it kicking and screaming into the modern world!) I tried very hard to set up a Professional Development Team with some of our own people who had business or civil service experience. It never got off the ground.
Several years later, I held a series of discussions with Chris Green, our wonderful membership secretary at the time and a man who understood exactly what we needed to do. We agreed that he would change roles and go head-hunting for people who could form a management team under him. Tragically, Chris died just weeks into his new role, leaving a hole in our hearts and in our organisation that held us back for years.
Knowing that I am a leader rather than a manager, I tried appointing a Party (Staff) Manager and a National Organiser to oversee the key aspects of the day-to-day running of the Party. Several people have now had one or other role over recent years, most lately Emma Colgate and Eddy Butler. None of them have been able to cope.
In 2007 I invited more than a dozen long-standing activists and officials who I knew to have business experience to a conference in a small hotel near my home to discuss our organisational short-comings, brainstorm for solutions and find a group who would take on the responsibility of helping put us on a sound footing for sustainable growth.
Three of them volunteered to create a Central Management Team, which I put to work, with an initial brief of bringing our growing central staff under a bare minimum of oversight and personnel management. The CMT lasted less than six months. Staff members who refused to accept even basic moves to make them accountable and efficient rebelled. They rejected the idea of having to make an effort to work properly with colleagues who weren’t in their clique, and refused to be accountable in return for the salaries they received from our members.
This provided part of the backdrop to the troubles with Sadie Graham, Kenny Smith and others. Indeed, quite a few of the more experienced people who supported me so loyally through that period of uncertainty did so with the proviso that I should go and find a non-political administrator or at least advisor to help build and run the party machine in the future.
New Approach Vital
I realised at that point that such vital and necessarily tough and at times unpopular management would never be found in our own ranks, and that it could not be bought in on a shoe-string. It also became clear that trying to use essentially political people to do fundamentally non-political administrative and organisational work was hammering square pegs into round holes. And it was damaging both to the individuals and to the organisation. We had to get professional – and fast!
We were in exactly the same position as the forces of freedom and democracy at the end of the first year or so of the English Civil War. We had the spirit, the determination, the thirst for justice and the hunger for victory; but we lacked the discipline, the organisation and the technical know-how to match our professional opponents.
Like him or loath him, that was what Oliver Cromwell saw after the stalemate at the Battle of Edgehill, when he realised that his side’s ragtag army of “old decayed serving men and tapsters” would never be a match for the experienced military elite and foreign mercenaries fighting for Charles. So he went away to recruit a New Model Army of young idealists “who know for what they fight” – and who were drilled and trained until they were more than a match for the very best of their opponents. That, I understood, was what we must do.
So I did the only thing possible. The thing that every successful nationalist party in Europe has had to do (or should have done, because those which failed to do so have all fallen back, because their organisational base failed to grow and mature enough to support their political potential). I went looking for a man who could bring us the kind of business experience we needed. When I started that quest, I was worried that the kind of person who could do the job may well not be prepared to do it for the British National Party.
And, indeed, I was knocked back by a number of individuals and companies as I searched for the way to break out of being a £500,000 a year party – large enough to be known, large enough to attract people, but not big or slick enough to get out of the dead-end cycle of growth, organisational logjam, demoralisation, and shrinkage to the point where we could once again cope and begin to grow back to the point where we would once again choke on our own limited success.
But, as many of you already know, and all will come to see, the BNP is not just a Party, it is a providential movement; we have a destiny, so things happen to us, sometimes even things that are hard to understand or even to cope with at the times, which later turn out to be for the best. Even set-backs that prevent some desperately desired breakthrough turn out to be blessings in disguise that give us the time to grow steadily and sustainably, rather than mushrooming out of control and then collapsing as is so often the fate of less well-grounded, more populist groups.
And being a movement with a destiny means that, very occasionally indeed, we find exactly the person we need to fill a crucial role, just at the right moment. A little under three years ago, we found just the man we needed. Not just to transform our fund-raising capabilities some six-fold, but also to show us how to maximise our good use of that money by creating safeguards against theft and waste. Even more valuable, the same man’s business experience and contacts meant that he was able to advise us on acquiring the systems and equipment we needed to equip the political fighting machine we have to build.
The man, needless to say, is Jim Dowson. I will leave the facts and figures for other presentations and reports we have in the offing but it is well worth spending the time to list just a few of the key things he has done for us since December 2007, during which time he has taken us from the near total lack of infrastructure set out earlier in this article to the point now where we have:
* Our own call centre;
* A Membership/Admin department utilising a state-of-the-art database which gives us unrivalled efficiency and analytical capabilities;
* A direct mail operation capable of handling 400,000 mailings per month;
* Industrial unit despatch depot;
* Dedicated treasury office;
* Reserve office now due to house of Communications & Publicity and Training Departments;
* High-tech internal telecommunications system linking all our offices, all of which are staffed by now tried and tested workers who know their jobs and know that if they do them well we will look after them - but if they let the members down, they will be shown the door.
In these, and a myriad of other ways, Jim Dowson and the skills of other professionals he can call on through his Midas Consultancy, together with input he has secured from highly talented people of our own (the professional knowledge of our Wales Regional Organiser Brian Mahoney, for example, was enormously important in the creation of our telecom system) have turned what in hindsight was an amateur shambles into a formidable machine.
That's not to say it's perfect, of course. In particular, the very act of imposing business discipline on political workers, turning former footloose and fancy free volunteers into reliable cogs in a machine, has upset a significant number of individuals who couldn't make the grade. Some of them have ‘gone rogue’ as a result, and the fall-out has sometimes made our progress less than even.
We introduced, for example, timesheets, work planners and diaries for all staff. Amazingly, some thought that such simple and basic tools for ensuring efficiency were beneath them, or realised that they would expose a suspect work ethic and fought against them tooth and nail. Why should we pay good money to people who are not good value for money? Because it's not our money we'd be wasting, it's members' money.
Several staff members and contractors worked hard, but refused to be team players. We've had to deal with talented prima donnas who think that screaming abuse down the phone or sending hysterical emails to colleagues is acceptable work practice. It is not, because it destroys communications and the teamwork on which all successful endeavours must rely.
This was part (but by no means all) of the problem with our former webmaster. However talented someone may be, if their quarrelsome attitude is damaging our team, I have to act to cut out the rogue cell before it becomes a cancer.
Where staff have shown themselves unable to cope or to understand what is required of them, we have done everything we can to help them, train them, mentor them and, as a last resort, to move them into a role in which they can make a useful contribution.
John Walker, for example, was a good treasurer when our turnover was a few hundred thousand pounds a year. But as the figures grew larger, and our operation became more complex, he was increasingly out of his depth. This is no secret, and John freely accepts not just it, but also the fact that he initially fought very hard against the change. But it was pushed through, and he will also tell you that being prised out of his Treasury role was the best thing we ever did for him. And because he is a very loyal and steady patriot, John accepted the decision, stayed the course, and is now doing a great job developing exciting new initiative such as Radio RWB.
But with some, neither support nor reallocation has worked.
This has given me a dilemma. Do we keep a failing staff member in post, wasting members' hard-earned money and damaging the party? Or do we sack them and risk making them into personal enemies or even turning traitor and damaging the party as they seek revenge?
The same pattern has repeated itself under each manager I've taken on from within our ranks with a brief to put us on a professional footing. Time and again, the failing staff who didn't want proper management caused trouble, and won, to the detriment of the party as a whole.
Until the last two years. With Mr. Dowson on hand to advise and assist, things have been different. Sometimes his advice has been brutal, but it has been right.
To us, there is no choice. We have a clear moral obligation to our members and donors to get value for money, to employ the best people we can find for each job, and to get rid of staff members who are not up to scratch. This is going to become even more important as government cuts bite and economy crumbles even further.
The British National Party is a power-winning machine, not a charity. We are here to save our country, not to run the political equivalent of British Leyland in the 1970s.
But this is the reason for many of the leaks and lies which have been directed against me, Jim Dowson and key members of our team who appreciate what is being done and stepped up to the mark. There is nothing here that should surprise or even really bother anyone. "Sacked employee makes unfounded allegations against former employer and manager" - the problem is as old as the hills.
Even more bitter, even more understandably, are the several people - staff, independent contractors and senior officials alike – who have been caught with their fingers in the till by Mr. Dowson. Not surprisingly, they want to get rid of him, and will tell any lie in their bid to do so.
The complaints and barefaced lies coming from such embittered individuals are, of course, only the start of the problem. Other individuals, with no direct knowledge of what actually happened, are friends of theirs - or at least knew them when they were volunteers of whom far less was expected - then wade in on their behalf. Some people just like gossip and mischief.
Others are genuinely incapable of understanding the situation which we now face. Richard Edmonds, for example, who grasped very well the need to change our constitution in order to avoid destruction at the hands of the Equalities Commission, argued at the last Advisory Council meeting that we shouldn't involve outside professional contractors at all. We should, he maintains, do everything 'in house'.
Well, he's entitled to his opinion, and I'm entitled to say that it's dinosaur stuff which, if taken seriously, would take us back to the dark ages when the BNP's administrative system was a pile of papers on a tabletop in a back room in a run-down shop in Welling, and when every time the party grew beyond about 800 members it choked on its own 'success' and collapsed in demoralised stagnation. All mainstream political parties draw on the expertise of industry professionals to further their cause, and we cannot be any different, because it is effective.
Some people just don't understand or accept the need to change. In matters of politics their innate conservatism provides a counter-balance to those who would naively argue that we should ditch our principles and chase 'acceptance' by the mass media. But when we have to build a machine with the serious capability to grow to many times its present size, their attitude applied to matters organisational would be disastrous.
Then we have the egotists (both within and outside the party), only a couple of them, but very noisy. They attack me because I am a block to their own or their close friend's ambition. Here too no one should be surprised. Much of human history is about the way in which ambition can turn a man into a menace or even a traitor to his cause.
Why should the BNP expect to be immune from the age-old sight of individuals who want the top job spreading lies and hate against the man who has it? It's human nature, and we nationalists are the first to recognise that nature is often more important than nurture. Some people are just natural born schemers. That is not to excuse what they do, but to understand it makes it less bewildering.
Also queuing up to attack me and my key advisors and colleagues are the cranks. Every Hollywood Nazi crackpot from California to Vladivostok jumps at every opportunity to attack the BNP, because the success and continued advance of our healthy, human, live nationalism is a rebuke to their failure and obsession with political necrophilia.
These creatures infest the Internet, where they sit up late into the small hours fighting their sad and impotent web wars. The lies they tell and repeat leave an unpleasant taste, but the antidote is simple: Ignore them.
Finally, and now quite blatantly in an Unholy Alliance with the most of the other malcontents we have already identified, we have our opponents on the far left.
Searchlight and their fellows has decades of experience in running a veritable Lie Factory. They understand all too well what allegations and lies bother us nationalists, and they use both the Internet and their network of informers and moles within the BNP to spread their poison and their seeds of dissension.
The shocking truth is that there is not one of the disgraceful and unfounded allegations now being thrown - either openly or behind our backs - at me and Jim Dowson that didn't first surface in Searchlight or on one of the so-called Unity blogs. Again, this is no surprise.
What is, however, a surprise, is that there are still a few self-styled 'nationalists' who think that it is acceptable to try to advance their own ambitions by regurgitating the poison first spewed out by Gerry Gable & Co. They should be ashamed of themselves. And, while genuine debate about different possible ways forward, the airing of genuine concerns, and a genuine leadership challenge from time to time, are to be welcomed, those who repeat Searchlies put themselves beyond the Pale. Every true nationalist's hand and face should be turned against them.
We all know that our enemies have made me the biggest target for their hatred and deceitful black propaganda campaigns since 1999 - and we all know why. Searchlight and Mr. Butler and his friends who formed the now defunct Freedom Party first started spreading unfounded rumours of financial impropriety against me ten years ago, and the attacks have only intensified as the BNP has advanced.
Over the last few years, however, two other individuals have come under heavy, sustained and equally dishonest attack.
The first is Pat Harrington, against whom Searchlight and their Useful Idiots launched a massive disinformation campaign when he emerged as the main figure pushing to turn the independent nationalist trade union Solidarity from an idea on paper into effective reality. Mr. Harrington faced a cynical and deceitful campaign to use nonsensical and unfounded allegations about unspecified 'irregularities in the accounts' to force him out of his role as a good and far-sighted leader.
The attacks were relentless. Seeing what was going on, and since an attack on any good nationalist initiative is an attack on the cause of the BNP, I involved myself in the defence. Indeed, for several months over the summer of 2007 the struggle to save Solidarity took up more of my time than any other job. The wave of attacks on Pat Harrington went on for more than two years, with character assassination being backed up with vexatious but hugely time-wasting complaints to the body that handles trade union registrations.
Fortunately, the majority of Solidarity's then tiny membership saw through what was going on, stayed loyal and weathered the storm. Today this very important weapon in the nationalist arsenal has some five hundred members, and is emerging as a real and sustained success story. Dozens of our people have kept their jobs thanks to Solidarity. Adam Walker is just the latest example. Very many more have secured justice or due compensation because of the skill and dedication of its representatives.
The Attacks on Jim Dowson
In some ways, the external and internal opposition seem to have used the attack on Mr Harrington and Solidarity as a test-run. For they have never run out an attack on anyone like they have mounted against Jim Dowson over the last year. I've never seen anything like it. And while Jim can be brusque and impatient, and while his staunchly loyalist background isn't everyone's cup of tea, and while our having to deal with failed staff members has caused its fair share of sometimes unavoidably badly timed short-term disruption, I have never seen anything more undeserved.
Why is it? Well, in small part it is because criticising "the King's evil advisors", while professing undying loyalty to the King himself, is a very old trick. A couple of years ago it was Lee Barnes. Like Lee, Jim Dowson is an easier target than me, but make no mistake, for many of those causing trouble, I am the real target.
Overall, though, the plain fact is that our enemies have seen the paradigm shift in our finances and level of operational sophistication since Jim Dowson came on the scene. To anyone who looks at the facts and the figures it should be blindingly obvious. The scale of change that I brought to the politics of the BNP is now being duplicated thanks to Jim Dowson with regard to our organisation.
That is why I value him and work with him to the point that I sometimes see even totally loyal close friends and colleagues getting jealous. And it is why our enemies are so determined now to bring us down before it really is too late. Because they know that the root and branch modernisation of the party's central administration that we have together carried out - where literally no-one else would or could have carried it out - is only just the beginning.
Two Year Goal
I have set myself a goal: Now I am going to do the same for the party machine all over the country too, and I need Jim Dowson to help me, because while I can see clearly what has to be done, I am incapable of doing it. But together, and with the formidable team we now have in place to help us, we are going to do it.
It must be pushed through in two years, to give us a further two years in which to build our challenge for a further breakthrough in the European Elections of 2014. The Europhiles are about to use the financial crisis that they and their bankster friends created in the first place as the excuse for a further massive power grab. This will openly relegate our national parliaments to county Council status, and means that the lurch to Euro tyranny can only be fought by creating a really effective rebel block in the belly of the Beast. I intend to lead that block, but first we have to win more seats. To do that, we need to up our organisational game.
This is a major reason for my decision to plan and announce I intend to step down as BNP leader (and only from that role, for I fully intend to remain massively involved organisationally and politically for as long as our members want me) at the start of 2014. Yes, at that point I - and more to the point my family - will have had 15 solid years of brickbats and heartbreak. Yes, by then I hope we will have found a future leader who is less smearable than me.
Cutting Out the Dead Wood
But, most of all, I know from the trouble we've had sorting out the party centre over the last two years that getting the rest of the organisation fit for purpose is going to cause more trouble still. Yet we all know it has to be done. We all know that there is dead wood that has to be cut out so that fresh young growth can sprout for the future.
That job cannot be done by a leader who intends to stay on for many years longer, because too many of the "old decayed serving men and tapsters," who are going to have to be gently but firmly pushed aside to make way for our New Model Army, will conceive grudges. They will go on to back the knaves who will come along and try to gather support with lies that it's all unfair or heavy-handed or unnecessary.
I can do what has to be done, but I cannot do so without making so many enemies that my presence at the top will become a destabilising factor.
This, I now see very clearly, is the very crux of my life's work. Personally, despite all the pressures and heartaches, I would love to lead the British National Party to power, to fulfil the faith of so many who so dearly hope they will one day see me enter Downing Street as Prime Minister.
But that is not what I am here to do. It is not for me to steer our good ship to final victory, but it is my duty, my honour and my burden to do the work to equip her, and recruit and train the crew, so that a good new Captain stands a fighting chance of taking her on to the end of the voyage, where waits a safe haven for our people.