Notice announcing the cancellation of the BNP meeting, and Richard Edmonds addressing the audience with Cliff Le May looking on
Last week Labour and Conservative politicians in New Addington, including local Tory MP Gavin Barwell, united to issue an admirably firm statement opposing an anti-mosque campaign by the far-right British National Party. The fascists were not happy. They accused the statement’s signatories of “putting ethnic minority groups before the indigenous Brits” and setting aside their political differences to “conspire on an issue they all very much agree on – the Islamisation of Britain”.
The joint statement was important for its exposure of the BNP’s central role in the anti-mosque campaign, which has reportedly been run by the party’s Croydon & Sutton organiser John Clarke. The BNP itself has tried to play down its involvement, claiming that it was merely responding to a local initiative, having been “approached by concerned residents seeking the BNP’s knowledge and experience in dealing with proposed mosques popping up in every town and village in our green and pleasant land”.
As one of the BNP’s opponents told the Inside Croydon blog: “They are pretending to run a community campaign, claiming it’s not political. They are leafleting, knocking on doors, as well as running a street stall once or twice per week.”
The culmination of the BNP’s fraudulent “community campaign” was to be a public meeting on Sunday at the Addington Community Association centre. However, the ACA cancelled the booking, apparently in response to pressure from Croydon council, leaving the BNP without a venue. But they arrived at the ACA anyway and held their meeting outside the building, self-righteously complaining that they were the innocent victims of an attack on free speech.
Very few of those mythical local residents who had supposedly turned to the BNP for leadership actually turned up for the meeting. Considering that the party claimed to have persuaded two thousand people to sign its anti-mosque petition, and had invited them all to attend, the level of support was derisory. Inside Croydon estimated the numbers at “fewer than 30”. Nor were any “concerned residents” represented on the platform, which consisted of just two speakers, both of them notorious fascists.
The first was Cliff Le May, a longtime member of Croydon BNP whose views are so extreme that they have on occasion proved an embarrassment even to his own far-right party. In 2009 Le May was in the news after he claimed that New Addington had been taken over by “violent immigrants who have no right to live among decent civilised white people”, and accused Gavin Barwell of being a “traitor to his race and nation”. Not that this prevented the BNP from endorsing Le May as its official candidate for Croydon Central in the 2010 general election.
The other platform speaker was none other than the veteran neo-Nazi, Richard Edmonds. In 1994, at which time he was the BNP’s national organiser, Edmonds received a six-month prison sentence for his involvement in a racially motivated attack in which a black man was hit in the face with a glass. A fervent admirer of BNP founder John Tyndall, Edmonds was never happy with the more “moderate” image projected by the party under Nick Griffin’s leadership. In 2011 he left the BNP to rejoin the more hardline white-supremacist National Front, becoming a member of its national directorate and standing as an NF candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
Unsurprisingly, when introducing Edmonds to the audience, Le May didn’t bother to inform them of the speaker’s actual political background or even tell them his name, stating only that Edmonds had been involved in another anti-mosque campaign in Worcester Park. (As indeed he was – he starred in an NF video denouncing the mosque plan.)
According to the BNP, one of the aims of Sunday’s meeting was to “ask residents from the community who had suitable knowledge in planning applications and emergency vehicle access etc to come forward and form a committee which would be completely free of any BNP involvement and to carry the campaign forward”. Meanwhile, of course, the BNP would remain in the background pulling the strings.
Any New Addington residents who might be inclined to fall for this and serve as dupes for the BNP should be clear about the racists and fascists they will be working with.
Update: See “BNP’s ‘anti-mosque’ meeting in New Addington flops”, Croydon Advertiser, 23 August 2014