UK Politics

BNP conference: I'm in charge, says Nick Griffin

BNP leader Nick Griffin says his party is through its "rocky patch" and is now "on the up again", as members gather for their annual conference.

Mr Griffin, who was narrowly re-elected party leader in July, told the BBC the majority of the party was behind him.

"I'm in charge and that's the end of it," he told the BBC Politics Show North West.

The anti-immigration party has struggled with debts, infighting and poor results in May's local elections.

The BNP has not disclosed the exact location of its conference for what it says are security reasons, but members are believed to be meeting in Liverpool.

It has been hit by internal divisions and lost 11 of the 13 seats it was defending in May's English local elections - including all five of its councillors in Stoke on Trent.

'Massively overspent'

Mr Griffin, who has been party leader since 1999, was re-elected in July, beating his fellow MEP Andrew Brons by just nine votes, and told his party that the "time for division and disruption is over".

In an interview with the BBC's Politics Show North West, Mr Griffin said: "We've had some turmoil. We were massively overspent after, especially, the European elections - we've clawed that back and we are back on the right road.

"I think in terms of general soft public support, what I get out on the streets is we are stronger. In terms of it translating into victories at local elections, we are up against a really effective Labour Party machine which concentrates against us - it has knocked us back."

But he said recent council by-elections had seen the BNP triumph over the Lib Dems and Tories adding: "We are on the up again."

Asked about the party's election losses in May, Mr Griffin claimed the vote had remained "rock solid" but said Labour had "brilliantly exploited the postal vote" at local elections.

"But we've worked out what to do and we're going to be back."

The BNP has struggled with debts run up during election campaigns.

It was also engaged in a long-running court battle with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over its policy of restricting membership to "indigenous British people".

The BNP scrapped the rule but the EHRC accused party leader Nick Griffin of failing to comply with an order to remove potentially racist clauses from his party's constitution.

Last year Mr Griffin fought off an attempt to have him declared guilty of contempt of court at the High Court - which rejected the EHRC's bid to seize the party's assets.

Internal party documents seen by Panorama reveal that 12 months ago the BNP owed creditors more than £570,000. Mr Griffin recently said the party now owes just £52,000.

In his interview with the Politics Show North West, Mr Griffin claimed that "everyone, from the far left through the BBC and all sorts of neo-Nazi cranks - they're all against Nick Griffin actually, everyone is except ordinary people out there".

"We've got enormous support which we are going to build on. This has been a rocky patch which we have come through, I'm in charge for the next four years and we are going to move forward.

"I'm in charge and the majority of the party is happy with that."

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