Far right 'delighted' that I was mugged; Ken Livingstone supporters not heartbroken either

The far right claim themselves as scourges of crime and believers in law and order. But, where I am concerned, it seems they feel able to make an exception. On the “London Patriot” website, one Guiseppe di Santis writes: “Nationalists will be delighted to know that the Daily Telegraph London Editor has been mugged, robbed, and assaulted by rioters/looters. Don’t you just love to see Gilligan getting a taste of his own medicine? It will be interesting to see what he has to say in his next smear story about the BNP.”

I can quite understand why the BNP isn’t pleased with my appalling “smears” about them – such as my story revealing how their then (now sadly ex) London organiser, Nick Eriksen, believed that rape was a “myth… to suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that forcefeeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence. A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched.” Another selective law-and order hardliner, I see!

Also quite pleased about my mugging was Phil Andrews, a politician from Hounslow. “I’d be lying if I tried to pretend this would spoil my day too much,” wrote Phil in a series of posts on the Brentford TW8 forum. “He should be thankful I wasn’t with the lads who nicked his bike. I rarely take pleasure in other people’s pain, but I confess to a feeling of reassurance that what goes around comes around.”

Back in 2006, I reported that the then (now sadly ex) Councillor Andrews had been a senior member of the National Front and Holocaust denier who had served time for causing actual bodily harm to a black police officer. (You can find a picture of Andrews marching with Nick Griffin by searching on the Photographers Direct website – I can’t link directly to it because it is copyright.)

The following year, the good Councillor spent a lot of time bloviating about how he had put my evil lies about him “in the hands of solicitors.” Four years on, I still haven’t had the writ, Phil – perhaps it’s lost in the post? But he did sue some of his political opponents in the Labour Party for saying that members of the ethnic minorities would be at risk if he was elected. He lost. Ex-Cllr Andrews, incredibly, was at one time Hounslow Council’s cabinet member for community safety (he’s lost that too, alas). It’s good to see his commitment to violent assault, er sorry community safety, burns undiminished…

Joining in approvingly on the thread was one of Ken Livingstone’s main online groupies, a gentleman called Tom Barry (“not often I find a great deal to approve of in Mr. Andrews, but Gilligan’s reported behaviour is entirely familiar to me,” he wrote). Tom operates a rather oafish anti Boris-Johnson blog and Twitter stream called Boris Watch and often seems a fairly angry sort of fellow. He has never forgiven me for, literally years ago, mocking one of his many beyond-caricature observations (that time, it was about the anti-bendy bus campaign being part of a giant neo-con conspiracy.) Tom’s furious threats to complain about my “misrepresentations” again never materialised – and could not do so, because the quotes were accurate. I still have all the printouts, as I do of all the latest rantings in case anyone’s tempted to take them down.

I suppose I should be cross. But I have to say I find it gratifying, for two reasons – first, because it shows that I have really got under these delightful people’s skins, and second because it shows them up for what they are, better than I ever could.

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BNP in turmoil: Barnbrook resigns

Ex-BNP: Richard Barnbrook
Ex-BNP: Richard Barnbrook

Richard Barnbrook, the BNP’s London leader and its representative on the London Assembly, has today resigned the BNP label and will sit on the Assembly as an independent, I understand. This follows his sacking as the BNP’s Barking and Dagenham organiser three weeks ago after the party’s dismal performance in the May local elections.

Not very much noticed, the BNP is going through one of its periods of turmoil after its poor national election results in May, with Nick Griffin, its leader, fending off another leadership challenge this week.

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.

BNP man barred from council ceremony – Labour says he was drunk, he denies it

Bob Bailey, the BNP’s London organiser and leader of the opposition on Barking council, was turned away last night from a ceremony conferring the freedom of the borough on the footballer Sir Trevor Brooking and the Royal Anglian Regiment. He had been due to speak at the event.

That much is common ground – but the reasons are heavily contested. The council’s ruling Labour group has issued a press release claiming that at the reception preceding the ceremony, Cllr Bailey was “worse for wear” and “under the influence.”

The deputy leader of the council, Robert Little, who was at the event, claimed Cllr Bailey was “clearly under the influence of alcohol and was in no fit state to deliver any speech. In all my time as a councillor I have never seen anyone behave in such a way,” he said. “It was embarrassing.”

Cllr Bailey himself, contacted today, flatly denied that he had been drinking and said the claims about his behaviour were “total rubbish.” He told me: “You know the BNP are against the war in Afghanistan and I was barred from attending the event because they were worried I would say something against the war.”

Richard Barnbrook, the BNP’s London leader and another Barking councillor, also present for part of the event, said: “Somebody mentioned it to me when [Bob] was leaving, saying he seemed to be a little bit drunk, but in my presence he seemed perfectly fine.”

Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s the first skirmish in what is likely to be a very tough struggle between the BNP and Labour at the forthcoming council elections in May. Though media attention in Barking will focus on the parliamentary battle between BNP leader Nick Griffin and Labour’s Margaret Hodge, the real contest may be for the council. Last time, had the BNP put up candidates in every ward, it would probably have taken control of the council. Labour is fighting back, but it knows that still remains a possibility.

Extremist schools: New evidence as Minister for Hizb ut Tahrir boobs again

Ed Balls just can’t stop digging, can he? You may remember that the Schools Secretary – the Minister for Hizb ut Tahrir – has taken stick for supporting, and funding, two schools run by supporters of this racist, separatist and extremist Muslim group.

In last week’s Spectator, I reported in her own words from a Hizb ut Tahrir pamphlet, the disgusting views of Farah Ahmed, the head of one of these schools and trustee of them both. You can see that at the end of my previous post on this blog. In a letter to this week’s magazine, Mr Balls has responded. “The pamphlet Mr Gilligan quoted from was written… six years ago,” he says. “This is not evidence of extremist views actually being taught in the classroom.”

Leave aside that what should be “taught in the classroom” was, in fact, the exact topic of the pamphlet. Leave aside that Mrs Ahmed has never repudiated her views. Leave aside even the absurdity of Mr Balls’ position (if supporters of the BNP – Hizb’s white equivalent – were running schools at public expense, I think we would be able to cut its funding without needing to prove that the children sing the Horst Wessel Song in class.)

Yet even without any of that, there is separate, and very compelling, evidence, of what is being taught at these schools – evidence which even the Minister for Hizb ut Tahrir might accept. It is the school’s curriculum (also, by the way, written by Farah Ahmed.) It’s been obtained and analysed by the think-tank, the Centre for Social Cohesion. And as their analysis shows, there are stiking parallels between what Hizb teaches its recruits – and Mrs Ahmed teaches her pupils.

In defending these schools, Mr Balls has made a terrible, terrible mistake. When is he going to admit it?

Nick Griffin for Barking: Has the BNP made a mistake?

Has Nick Griffin messed up his calculations? (photo: PA)
Has Nick Griffin messed up his calculations? (photo: PA)

Nick Griffin’s decision to stand against Margaret Hodge in Barking at the next general election might, just might, turn out to be another example of the BNP’s legendary capacity for unforced error.

True, in 2005 Barking gave the BNP its best parliamentary result ever – its candidate, Richard Barnbrook, got 16.9 per cent, and was just 27 votes away from coming second. True, nine of the 30 councillors in the wards which make up the seat are BNP – and there would probably be more if they had stood candidates in every ward at the last local elections. This part of London is the heartland of the British far right, something metropolitan liberals often forget when congratulating each other on the capital’s multicultural tolerance.

And true, Hodge has been a weak MP. Until only a few years ago, she didn’t have much of a presence or a proper office in her constituency. She is loathed by many in her own local party. She has said some incredibly stupid things that have played straight into the racists’  hands.

But if the BNP’s secret weapon is the behaviour of some of its opponents, its saving grace is its own incompetence. Griffin may not realise that things have changed in Barking since 2005. Hodge has upped her game organisationally, opening an office, campaigning quite hard on the ground and ruthlessly purging her local party enemies (though this last could still backfire – many of the people she has got rid of are rather good, and justifiably very unhappy with her).

More importantly, Barking is now a good deal more ethnically mixed than it was four years ago. Griffin’s opponents have a larger anti-BNP vote to call on, if they can get it to the polls. BNP support is often strongest in places where the ethnic presence is comparatively small, or comparatively new. That was the case in Barking in 2005; it is less the case now.

If I were Nick Griffin, I would have skipped Barking and gone for next-door Dagenham and Rainham, which is demographically at the stage Barking was when the BNP started to make headway there.

Yes, Dagenham does have an excellent Labour MP, Jon Cruddas – who really gets it about how Labour, particularly London Labour, has stopped talking to the white working class. And yes, Cruddas has been an active ground presence in his seat far longer than Hodge has in hers. But against that has to be set the work of the Boundary Commission. In the new redrawn Dagenham, some of Cruddas’s best wards have been taken out of his seat and some classic Essex Tory country in Rainham has been added in.

The BNP will be hindered in both Barking and in Dagenham by the general expectation that the Tories will win nationally, which usually tends to depress the far Right vote. In Dagenham, the risk, with a big name like Griffin, was still probably not that the far Right would win the seat, but that they might take enough votes off Cruddas to let the Tories through the middle. It could still happen – Labour has a tough fight here – but the man breathing slightly easier today will probably be Jon Cruddas.