BNP leader's secret life revealed

By day, he runs the election for Britain’s foremost racist party, calling for foreigners to go home. By night, he sups the champagne and Ferrero Rocher with those very foreigners on the diplomatic party circuit. The London organiser of the BNP is the husband of a German Embassy diplomat and benefits from accommodation and allowances provided by the German taxpayer.

Bob Bailey also enjoys some diplomatic immunity as the family member of an envoy, though this is limited by the fact that he remains a British citizen. He has attended a number of official functions at the embassy, in Belgrave Square.

He married the diplomat, Martina Borgfeldt, in Australia in 1999 after meeting her while serving with the Royal Marines in Africa. The latest issue of the Diplomatic List shows that she is an “assistant attache” at the London embassy.

Mr Bailey is leader of the opposition on Barking and Dagenham Council, and hopes to take control of the council at next month’s elections. He gives his main home as an address in Barking and Dagenham, but in fact lives in embassy-funded accommodation in west London with his wife and two children.

The disclosure threatens to derail the BNP’s campaign to take control of Barking, as Mr Bailey appears to be in breach of rules which say that candidates seeking election to a council must live or work in the same borough.

One source close to the embassy said Mr Bailey had never even told his wife that he was a leader of the BNP and that she only found out about it when confronted recently by her superiors. “She was unaware of his alternative existence until it was recently pointed out to her, with the help of his mumblings on YouTube, by a senior member of the embassy,” he said.

Mr Bailey yesterday refused to deny this, or his marriage to Mrs Borgfeldt, or that he lived with her in west London, though he insisted he did also live in Barking. “I own that [Barking] flat,” he said. “Why don’t you focus on what we’ve got to say rather than attacking me personally?” He refused to reply to other questions from The Sunday Telegraph.

A spokesman for the embassy said: “We do know that Mrs Borgfeldt is married to this man. She does receive a married person’s allowance and accommodation. However, she is not politically active and does not work in a politically-sensitive department.”

The BNP calls for a halt to all immigration and a withdrawal from the EU. However, it has in the past had links with the far-right German fascist party, the NPD, and some of its officials recently spoke at a neo-Nazi rally in Germany. There is no suggestion that Mrs Borgfeldt is a fascist sympathiser.

Mr Bailey said last year that London was “sliding down the slippery slope to Lagos” and that “in forty years’ time, white British people will be extinguished like the American Indians.” He was recently threatened with suspension as a councillor after telling a meeting of the planning committee, considering an application for a new Nigerian church: “These people eat off the ground. We don’t want any more black children.” Last year he was banned from driving for 18 months after refusing to take a breath test, telling the court that being stopped by the police was part of a “conspiracy against me, my party and the indigeous people of this country.”

As London organiser, Mr Bailey is playing a key role in the BNP’s campaign in Barking. The party leader, Nick Griffin, is standing for the parliamentary seat against Labour’s Margaret Hodge and the BNP is also standing 34 candidates for the council’s 51 seats. However, at least three of the BNP’s other candidates also appear to be using “front” addresses in a sign that the racist party is struggling to find enough genuinely local supporters.

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Greenwich Council, Britney Spears and £1750 an hour: nice work if you can get it

Almost unreported, there are, of course, local elections going on in London too. My column this week for the hyperlocal website where I live, greenwich.co.uk, explores the obsession of Labour-controlled Greenwich Council with flashy irrelevancies at the expense of anything important.

There’s the vandalism of Greenwich Park for the Olympics, of course – but Greenwich Council officers have also been treating themselves to free concerts in the council’s very own taxpayer-funded private box at the O2. Britney was the runaway favourite, you’ll be reassured to hear. Read the column here.

Ken Livingstone – the gift that keeps on giving

Another massive triumph for Ken Livingstone this morning. Commuters turning up at Dalston Junction, hoping to travel on the new East London Line, instead found a locked station and a chilly ex-mayor doing one of his now legendary unofficial opening ceremonies for things he used to be in charge of. The problem, of course, was that the line, well, stayed closed.

The line had been due to open today – but it’s been put off until next week because Ken and his chums complained they weren’t being given enough credit for it.

Even The Guardian could see what an own goal it was for the forces of King Newt:

“There was a faintly surreal air outside Dalston Junction at 7.45am,” wrote the paper’s Matt Wells. “The station was closed, the grilles were pulled firmly shut, and Tessa Jowell and Ken Livingstone were left shivering on the pavement outside….

“Local MP Diane Abbott, who said she’d been banned from coming by Transport for London, turned up anyway. ‘We don’t want to make it party political,’ she said, wearing a Labour red jacket and a big rosette.

“Ken, who has form on claiming credit for projects finished after he left office, said his successor should now make a firm commitment to the Crossrail project. “This is Labour investment versus Tory cuts,” he said.

“And after a cheesy photograph for the Hackney Gazette and a swift TV interview, they were off.”

Even out of office, it seems, Ken can still be responsible for mucking up people’s journeys.  For the Tories, King Newt is the gift that keeps on giving!

PS – Next: Ken hosts an alternative State Opening of Parliament in his garden shed.

Boris, Labour and a tug-of-war over the train set

Connoisseurs of the many ways in which Ken Livingstone has made himself look silly since losing his job remember with special pleasure the unofficial, ex-mayors-only “opening ceremony” he performed last year on the Docklands Light Railway’s new Woolwich Arsenal extension, to pre-empt Boris Johnson’s official cutting of the ribbon two days later.

Now, acting under the absurd delusion that he is the “Mayor,” and based on nothing more than the fact that he was elected to that post by the people of London, the hated Johnson has dared to schedule another opening ceremony for a transport project under his control, the East London Line (ELL) extension, next week.

Labour is furious – how dare Boris override Ken’s historic right to be identified as the sole source of all that is good in the Big Smoke? Len Duvall, leader of the Assembly Labour group, storms that Boris is “trying to take credit for a project delivered with £1bn of investment under a Labour government and a Labour mayor.”

Well, it’s perfectly true that Ken deserves credit for getting it kicked off – but actually Boris has been mayor for two years now, and as you can see from this breakdown (page 33 of the PDF) around 60% of the spending on the ELL took place under him. That’s one of the benefits of, you know, winning elections – you get to do things, and claim credit for them. Perhaps Labour should try it sometime?

The ELL event is also, fumes Labour, wholly against GLA guidelines (introduced, incidentally, after the Livingstone regime blatantly abused City Hall resources in its 2004 and 2008 re-election campaigns.) Heavy threats that TfL will “suffer the consequences” have been made and there is talk of a Standards Committee complaint. The guidelines state, however: “The presumption is that the GLA’s normal business will continue during the preelection period. The only exception is where a particular initiative, proposal,consultation or publication in the period could reasonably be regarded as giving a candidate or their supporters/political party an advantage in the election.”

It seems unlikely that the opening of a railway falls within this definition. In any case, it appears that all the party leaders on the London Assembly have been invited to take part in the ELL opening, so it won’t be a party event anyway.

And – oh dear – into my inbox flutters an email to Ian Brown, director of the relevant bit of TfL, from none other than Labour’s deputy assembly leader John Biggs, written a week ago and asking for what Mr Biggs calls an “election related visit to [the] East London Line.” He adds: “How feasible would it be if some Labour candidates (including ministers) were in the area of Shadwell or Wapping Station next Tuesday morning that they might have access to the station for an election visit?”

So it seems that, as far as Labour is concerned, using the ELL for “party political advantage” is perfectly OK – so long as it’s their party – while using it for an all-party event to mark the opening of a major civic amenity is an indefensible outrage and disgrace.

The interesting thing this row shows me is quite how terrified Labour is of voters seeing Boris on TV during the election campaign. Could that mean that he might actually be quite popular?

If the TV debates are a flop, will the broadcasters acknowledge the fact?

As I mentioned in last Sunday’s paper, I think there’s a real danger that the much-hyped TV election debates could be a disastrously damp squib. The “debates” will consist of each leader in turn speaking without interruption for a total of six minutes on each question (one minute each for answers, then another minute each for rebuttals) before they get to the four-minute section where they are actually allowed to, well, debate with each other.

There will be no follow-ups from moderator or audience and no audience reaction is permitted. Each of the questions will have to be applicable to all three leaders – no questions targeted at a particular leader will be allowed. So, at least in theory, there will be no chance to ask Gordon Brown why he kept people like Damian McBride around, or question David Cameron on his links with European far-right parties, or ask Nick Clegg who he would side with in a hung parliament.

The debates are already being used by both Brown and Cameron as an excuse to get out of potentially much more revealing, uncontrolled confrontations with Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman. For all the talk of “historic breakthroughs for public engagement,” these events really could be a step backwards for democracy.

If the rules are strictly applied, and if the format does turn out as stultifying and dreadful as I fear, the interesting question will be whether the TV news people will call attention to that fact. They’ve all invested huge amounts of time building up the “historic” nature of the debates – the BBC, it’s reported, is going to present its entire main news bulletins around its debate for two days. Sky News played a major part in campaigning for the debates in the first place. The broadcasters may be reluctant to acknowledge that they have given birth to a stillborn child.

George Galloway loses rather a lot of money

After Lutfur Ali and Muslim Aid, the Curse of Gilligan has landed on another IFE ally. Respect’s George Galloway is £100,000 a year poorer this week after parting company with TalkSport, the radio station where he presented The Mother Of All Talk Shows on Friday and Saturday nights.

Mr Galloway says: “After a run of more than four years the highly popular radio show – The Mother of All Talkshows – has been killed off by the TalkSport management. I believe this is a business mistake, but then I don’t run the radio station and such decisions are not mine to take….It is unlikely that the TalkSport management will change their mind and re-instate the show – but you never know.”

Mr Galloway, of course, is the man who owes, in his own words, “more than I can say, more than it would be wise for me to say” to the Islamists. Could this have played any part in his demise? Not for me to say, your honour.