Nick Griffin: High and lows of political career

Nick Griffin has been expelled from the BNP, just months after stepping down as the party's leader. The BBC looks back on the highs and lows of the 55-year old's political career.

line
Early years
Nick Griffin (holding the number 39) and other graduates of Downing College, Cambridge in 1977

The Cambridge law graduate (seen here holding the number 39) was a member of the far-right National Front in the 1970s and 1980s, After the organisation broke up, Mr Griffin founded a splinter group and eventually joined the BNP in 1995, ousting John Tyndall as leader four years later after winning a majority vote in a secret ballot.

line
Political campaigner
Nick Griffin makes a protest at the 2001 general election count in Oldham West, where Labour MP Michael Meecher (left) was elected

Mr Griffin has portrayed himself as a defender of free speech against the politically correct "liberal establishment". Under his leadership, the BNP sought to branch out from being solely preoccupied with immigration and racial politics, projecting itself as a defender of the British way of life. But the party's identity remained bound up with its stance on immigration. It backs an immediate end to all immigration and the "voluntary repatriation" of legal immigrants and British citizens of foreign descent.

line
Court battles
Nick Griffin greets supporters before going on trial on race hate charges in 2006

In 2004, Mr Griffin was secretly filmed by the BBC telling a crowd Islam was a "wicked, vicious faith". The footage sparked a police investigation but Mr Griffin and BNP activist Mark Collett were cleared of race hate offences in 2006 after two highly-publicised trials. In 2009, the BNP was threatened with potential legal action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over its membership policy. Mr Griffin fought a protracted battle with the watchdog while party members eventually voted to amend the party's constitution to let black and Asian people join. In 2014, Mr Griffin was declared bankrupt at Welshpool County Court.

line
Electoral success
Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons talk to reporters after being elected as MEPs in 2009

After steady progress in the first half of the decade, 2006 was the BNP's breakthrough year. It doubled its number of council seats in England and became the second largest party on Barking and Dagenham Council. Three years later, it toasted its first success at national level. It polled 943,598 votes, 6.2% of the total, in the European Parliament elections, enough to send Mr Griffin and his colleague Andrew Brons to Brussels. Hailing his election, Mr Griffin said the BNP was prepared "to speak openly about the problems of immigration", claiming the "indigenous British majority" had become "second-class citizens".

line
Question Time
Nick Griffin appearing on the BBC's Question Time in 2009

The BBC's decision to invite Mr Griffin on to its flagship political discussion show, Question Time, in October 2009 caused huge controversy. Hundreds of anti-fascist protesters gathered outside the BBC's Television Centre, in advance of the filming of the programme. Mr Griffin used his appearance on the show - which was watched by more than eight million people - to criticise Islam and to suggest that many people find "the sight of two grown men kissing in public really creepy". He later claimed the show had focused too much on him and the BNP, describing it as an exercise in "beating up Nick Griffin".

line
On the slide
Nick Griffin

The BNP increased its share of the vote in the 2010 general election, without coming close to winning any seats. But it soon became apparent that it was failing to build on the momentum of its 2009 success. It lost council seats in places such as Stoke and Burnley and saw itself eclipsed in parliamentary by-elections by Nigel Farage's UKIP. In the 2014 European elections, it saw its support fall back to its 1999 level, while Mr Griffin lost his own seat. He blamed the setback on Mr Farage's party, which he dismissed as "plastic patriots".

line
Bowing out?
Nick Griffin in 2011

In 2010, Mr Griffin suggested he would stand down as leader in 2013 - when he would have been in the job for nearly 15 years. The party has been plagued by infighting in recent times, with MEP Andrew Brons quitting in 2012 and Mr Griffin himself facing a leadership challenge last year. On 21 July, the party announced that Mr Griffin had left his position as chairman following a meeting of the BNP's executive committee and would be taking the role of president, saying it would give more details in due course.

line
Thrown out
Nick Griffin

The party moved to expel Mr Griffin, accusing him of "factionalism" and attempting to "destabilise" it. In particular, it claimed that he had made "damaging and defamatory" statements about the party's leadership and finances and had "harassed" party members, including in one case, making "physical threats". In a statement explaining its decision, the BNP said "no individual was bigger than the party". Mr Griffin challenged the decision, saying he had been "expelled without trial" and suggested the BNP had acted in violation of its own constitution.

line

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    @NickyMorgan01 Nicky Morgan, minister for women

    tweets: Looking forward to today's #CWIB2015. Bringing together ambitious business women for masterclasses and mentoring. #womensday

     
  2.  
    06:55: 'Move Parliament to Manchester' The Guardian

    Earlier this week, we reported Commons Speaker John Bercow saying the Houses of Parliament may have to be "abandoned" within 20 years without extensive repair work. There have been a number of suggestions on possible alternatives. Today, Simon Jenkins writes in the Guardian that Parliament should be moved to Manchester, arguing it would be good for democracy.

     
  3.  
    06:51: Broadcasters 'pressing ahead' Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    "Talking to some of those involved last night, my impression at the moment, is the broadcasters are intent on toughing this one out... They do not think that one 90-minute debate involving eight parties in the next fortnight or so is acceptable. They do not think it is acceptable one party should have the power to veto what goes ahead. As things stand they are intent on pressing ahead with the debates as currently scheduled."

     
  4.  
    06:42: Cameron's debate plans Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Our correspondent has been analysing last night's big debate news.

    The effect is to swing a huge wrecking ball in the direction of the broadcasters' plans for these TV debates, he says. It may demolish all hopes for a debate to be held, or may leave one "paltry" 90-minute debate later this month.

    The clear view of Downing Street is that this is the fault of broadcasters, who they accuse of coming forward with proposals without consultation, to a timetable that was never going to be acceptable, and of failing to get the parties to get together for meaningful negotiations, our correspondent says.

     
  5.  
    06:39: TV debate reaction
    HuffPo

    There is plenty of reaction around to Downing Street's one-debate proposal. Including this, which leaves little doubt as to where the Huffington Post stands on the issue.

     
  6.  
    06:30: Scotland Ashcroft poll

    In other political news you may have missed from last night, a poll suggested the SNP could win Gordon Brown's seat - Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath - at the election in May. The poll by Lord Ashcroft also suggested Charles Kennedy, the former Liberal Democrat leader, could also lose his seat to the nationalists. It's the latest polling which suggests the SNP could make significant gains on 7 May.

     
  7.  
    06:25: The papers
    Daily Telegraph front page - 05/03/15

    Downing Street's announcement that the prime minister will only take part in one TV debate ahead of the election features in several papers, with The Daily Telegraph describing it as an "ultimatum" to broadcasters. The BBC's Alex Kleiderman has the full round-up of the nationals here.

     
  8.  
    06:20: Child benefit changes? BBC Newsnight BBC Two, 22:30

    The BBC has learned the Conservatives are considering limiting child benefit to three children. As Newsnight reported last night, the Treasury has "softened" to the idea, which could save an estimated £300m a year.

     
  9.  
    06:15: Debate bombshell
    Leaders

    In case you missed it, there was a significant development last night on the TV leaders debates, after Downing Street wrote to broadcasters to make a "final offer" of only one debate with seven, possibly eight, leaders. Other parties criticised the PM, accusing him of "acting like a chicken" and the broadcasters have said they will respond to the proposal in due course. Expect more reaction on this story this morning.

     
  10.  
    06:10: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Thursday's political coverage. Nick Eardley and Matthew Davis will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Wednesday unfolded.

     

Features

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.