EHRC to the BNP: you might be racist
23 Jun 2009 by CST
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has written to the BNP to question their anti-discrimination policies on membership, employment and provision of services to the public. The EHRC suggests that in these areas, the BNPs policies may breach the Race Relations Act:
The Commission has a statutory duty, under the Equality Act 2006, to enforce the provisions of the Act and to work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination. This duty includes preventing discrimination by political parties.
The Commission thinks that the BNPs constitution and membership criteria may discriminate on the grounds of race and colour, contrary to the Race Relations Act. The partys membership criteria appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular ethnic groups and those whose skin colour is white. This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act which the party is legally obliged to comply with. The Commission therefore thinks that the BNP may have acted, and be acting, illegally.
The BNPs website states that the party is looking to recruit people and states that any applicants should supply a membership number. The Commission thinks that this requirement is contrary to the Race Relations Act, which outlaws the refusal or deliberate omission to offer employment on the basis of non-membership of an organisation. The Commission is therefore concerned that the BNP may have acted, and be acting, illegally.
The Commission is also concerned that the BNPs elected representatives may not intend to offer or provide services on an equal basis to all their constituents and members of the public irrespective of race or colour. The Commission thinks that this contravenes the Race Relations Act and the Local Authority Model Code of Conduct and that the BNP may have acted illegally and may act illegally in the future.
The BBC report on this story includes the key section of the BNP's constitution:
In its constitution, the BNP says it exists to represent the "collective National, Environmental, Political, Racial, Folkish, Social, Cultural, Religious and Economic interests of the indigenous Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Norse folk communities of Britain and those we regard as closely related and ethnically assimilated or assimilable aboriginal members of the European race also resident in Britain".
It says membership of the BNP is "strictly defined within the terms of, and our members also self define themselves within, the legal ambit of a defined 'racial group' this being 'Indigenous Caucasian' and defined 'ethnic groups' emanating from that Race".
The EHRCs warning of a possible legal injunction against the BNP is a serious threat to the party's future in its current state. It is also a reminder that legal approaches are a useful, and often underused, tool in the anti-racist armoury.
Nick Griffin cannot claim to have been unaware that the BNP often skirts around the edges of the law in its policies and propaganda. In 2007 he announced that he had changed his mind on whether the Holocaust happened having previously described it as a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter witch-hysteria solely because of changes to European law: If I say that now or believe that now, I'm liable to be extradited to France...I believe what the law says I must believe.
Of course Griffin has fallen foul of the law before, in 1998, when he was convicted of distributing material likely to incite racial hatred. His experience of this trial led him to write a paper for BNP writers on how to avoid prosecution under the Race Relations Act, and it may be worth reviewing Griffins advice, now that the BNP is under the legal spotlight once again.
1) "The truth is no defence." That's the 'law', no getting around it.
2) Any connection between sex, particularly sex crime, and members of ethnic 'minorities' is dynamite.
4) Emotive words, however justified they may be, must be avoided. Truth hurts, so words like 'alien', 'vermin', 'gang' instead of 'group', and such like must be avoided. A white rapist may be described as a 'beast' or an 'animal', but a black one must merely be a 'criminal'.
5) Even more than 'racism', 'anti-Semitism' is the great taboo of our time. We can sometimes get away with criticising Zionists, but any criticism of Jews is likely to be legal and political suicide.
6) Reports of the harmful effects of immigration abroad may still be held to be likely or intended to incite racial hatred in Britain.
8) What a PC prosecutor will try to claim is "likely or intended" to incite "hatred" doesn't necessarily have any relationship to reality or commonsense. In my own case, for instance, the 'Crown' complained that the words "Wanted: More white children" implied that non-white children are less wanted. An article which "extolled the virtues of Nordic life" (according to the CPS) was said by implication to decry the lifestyles of non-whites. A drawing of a noose (reproduced with paedophile murderers in mind and with no reference at all to immigration) was said to be a 'coded' call to "hang Black people." The fact that I called a Black separatist friend to testify on my behalf, and that the prosecution were unable to explain what possible good it could do a political party aiming to get elected to power to issue calls, coded or otherwise, to hang black people, had no impact at all on the PC jurors.
9) In the end, a Race Act case is decided by a jury. As these trials are invariably held in multiracial areas (mine was held in North West London, with a jury catchment area including Southall, despite the fact that both me and the complainant live in rural Wales), and as jurors are drawn disproportionately from the chattering intellectual classes, this means that the chances of a fair trial are nil. So the only way to win a Race Act trial is to avoid it.
If the BNP is to avoid a legal injunction in this case, it may have to alter its character to such an extent that it ceases to serve its purpose for most BNP members. BNP spokesman John Walker told the BBC that the BNP would be prepared to change its membership rules "to remain within the law...[but] I don't think we should be bullied by outside forces. They are asking us to change our whole political ideology." This quote outlines perfectly the dilemma facing the BNP. It wants to be a normal political party, offering itself at election and winning seats. So far, it has had moderate success in local and European elections doing just that. But its "whole political ideology" is based on discrimination on the basis of colour, religion and ethnicity. The BNP's efforts to ditch its extremist, racist image have so far been entirely superficial; you do not have to scratch very far beneath the surface to find the same racism that has always been there, because it is written into the constitution of the party. The EHRC seem determined to put this to the test.