The BNP member list, London Assembly investigations and London's Mothers Against Knives

It would be impossible to have looked through the papers this week without noticing the news about the BNP membership list being leaked. This won't be a post about the ethics of the leak and what should be done about the people on it. Septicisle has pretty much covered what I'd be saying, and so has Flying Rodent in the comments over at Liberal Conspiracy.

What I am interested in, though, is the idea that some of the people on the list may never have been members, as claimed by Nick Griffin himself. Of course, this may well be an example of the sort of massive lie we expect from the BNP, thrown out to give a straw of deniability to clutch for people who might find themselves in deep water - but it might not. On the one hand, you have the BNP claiming that names have been inserted maliciously by lefties, and on the other you have accusations of Griffin deliberately including people to boost membership figures.

Over at UK Indymedia, 'The Scale of BNP Fundraising' raises the following possibility:
If the list is true then there may be irregularities about the way in which the names were gathered. BNP activists adding the names of those signing a petition might account for some names. This would excuse the Party from financial explanations but beg the question of data protection compliance.
Indeed it would. UK Indymedia don't offer any evidence that this may be so (plus, I don't know enough about the site to be able to say how reliable it is), but the Independent story 'Union: 'Ban teachers who are BNP supporters' includes this:
A 25-year-old model from London said she had been listed after signing a petition against the building of a super mosque. "I didn't know the petition was organised by them and have had nothing to do with them since. I don't know anything about politics."
Might people who have signed BNP petitions - petitions that aren't exactly clear about being connected to the BNP - be in danger of being added to membership or contact lists for the party?

I have covered how misleading the BNP has been with it's 'London's Mothers Against Knives' petition before, especially the possibility that the people signing it may unwittingly have their names used to call for draconian measures to be targeted against black people. Is there now an extra worry for people signing it? Might they end up being counted as BNP members? A reassurance from Richard Barnbrook that they will not might be nice at this point, but he was never responsive to repeated requests to confirm that the petition would never be used in connection with demands for measures to be taken against black people.

Talking of Richard Barnbrook, in 'Richard Barnbrook number two under investigation', Tory Troll links to this Times article 'BNP deputy Simon Darby admits: I use the City Hall to do party business'. As you've probably gathered from the headlines, Richard Barnbrook's assistant, Simon Darby, is under investigation for using City Hall to promote party political business.

The comments on Tory Troll's post suggest that a complaint has also been made against Barnbrook himself for one of the many videos he appears in to promote the party that are filmed in City Hall. Barnbrook has already had to ask questions in Mayor's Question Time without cameras pointing at him because he was wearing a badge to promote his 'London's Mothers Against Knives' petition.

Which brings me back to the petition. The GLA Code of Conduct says:
You must, when using or authorising the use by others of the resources of your authority [...] ensure that such resources are not used improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes)
This is presumably why one of Barnbrook's videos has been complained about. I'm guessing it's the one that opens with him sitting in his office in front of a massive BNP poster.

But might Barnbrook also have broken this rule with his petition? Although the signature page has disappeared from his MyTelegraph blog, the covering page is still there. At the bottom, he lists himself as 'British National Party London Assembly Member' and, in big red figures, are his phone numbers. One of them is his London Assembly phone number at City Hall.


If wearing a badge to promote the petition is sufficiently party political enough to have the cameras turned off him during Mayor's Question Time, might using his London Assembly phone number and title on the petition itself also be considered as being used for party political purposes? What about using City Hall phones to answer queries about it?

It would be nice to find out. You can complain about the conduct of a London Assembly Member here.


Just noticed the wording in that quote from the Code of Conduct, and it seems Barnbrook might also be in trouble if Darby is caught out by the investigation too.


Helen Highwater said...

Newsflash: "model says she doesn't know anything about politics."

The idea that some of the people on the list had signed petitions is interesting - I seem to remember about 10 years ago a friend of mine panicking because she'd signed a Socialist Worker petition and was worried people would think she was in the Community Party (wherever they might be!) because she'd heard something about petition lists being used in that way. So even if that was just paranoia/urban legend, it does suggest that petition lists have been used to inflate membership numbers in the past, somewhere, by someone.

Helen Highwater said...

Sorry, COMMUNIST, not COMMUNITY!!!! Doh....