BNP votes to accept black members


THE BRITISH National Party (BNP), which had been threatened with court action over its “whites-only” membership rules, has voted to accept applications from blacks and Asians.

Just five of the 300 party members, meeting in Hornchurch in Essex yesterday, opposed the rule change, and five abstained, though no one was particularly happy about having to vote for the rule change, said party leader and MEP Nick Griffin.

“The meeting was dominated by a good spirit of unity, with everyone understanding that the party has to adapt for legal, financial and political necessity,” he said.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had threatened to injunct the far-right party unless it scrapped its membership rules limiting membership to “indigenous British” people.

The BNP must now return to court next month, when a judge will decide if the new rule complies with the UK’s race relation laws, although it is not clear if the party will actually get applications from non-white people.

Last night Mr Griffin said he expected a “trickle, rather than a flood” of applications from non-whites. “Anyone can be a member of this party. We are happy to accept anyone as a member providing they agree with us that this country should remain fundamentally British.”

Of the EHRC’s action Mr Griffin said: “Our problem with this is a government-funded, taxpayer-funded quango telling people who they can and can’t associate with, [which] is a fundamental outrage. Nevertheless, we recognise legal reality.”

A journalist from the London Timeswas forcibly expelled from the meeting before the vote was declared, following complaints from BNP London assembly member Richard Barnbrook, who was unhappy about a piece written in the paper on Saturday.

A photograph carried on the newspaper’s website last night showed a security guard grabbing journalist Douglas Kennedy’s nose as he was ejected: “He refused to leave when he was asked, so he had to be encouraged to leave,” said Mr Griffin.

Opponents of the BNP say the vote will make no difference. “I think that regardless of the vote, the changes are cosmetic and have only happened because the courts forced them to stop racist practices,” said Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism.