Despite being shunned by student media across the country, Leeds Student challenged BNP leader Nick Griffin to an interview. James Greenhalgh spoke to the censured MEP about racism, gay rights and the future of his party.
Leeds Student: Your political support is slipping away, why do you think this is? Is it because the main parties are dealing with immigration in a way that is supported by the electorate?
Nick Griffin: That certainly has had an effect, but a far bigger factor is that the nationalist vote is primarily working class. When the Labour party is in power, working class people who want to protest against the government do so by voting against Labour, a lot of them could never stomach voting Tory, so they vote for us. It’s a problem that will be reversed once the Labour party are back in power.
LS: That suggests you’re bracing yourself to lose seats in the upcoming elections?
NG: We’re not taking part in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. We think that the concept of party political control of the police is appalling. It’s extraordinarily dangerous, and we’re siding with the senior police officers who are urging people to remove the democratic legitimacy of the winners by not voting, so there’s the lowest possible turn out.
LS: So you don’t think you’re going to do well in the EU elections?
NG: No I wouldn’t say that, they’re a different kettle of fish. The New Statesman last week said don’t write the BNP off, don’t write Nick Griffin off, and a week is a long time in politics.
LS: After numerous defections and rebellions, Andrew Brons, our local MEP, resigned from your party last week saying he’s dissatisfied with the leadership. Does your party have a future?
NG: He stood against me 17 months ago and he lost. He had a strategy and a tactic and a belief, following what the newspapers had said, that we [the party and I] would be bankrupted shortly. He has now realised most definitely that that is never going to happen. We had a very significant bequest through a couple of weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of pounds, so he now knows his strategy has failed. I’m very sorry the people in Yorkshire who voted not for Mr. Brons, but for a British National Party MEP, now haven’t got one. So we are asking him to the do the decent thing – go and take his retirement pension and give the seat back to someone else on our list.
LS: You have shared a platform with the Ku Klux Klan and were forced to change your whites only membership policy. How can you claim not to be racist?
NG: Well look at it this way, members of all the three main parties happily share platforms with Sinn Fein members who murdered people. Would you ask them that question? As regards to the rest of it, it wasn’t whites only, it was an indigenous Brits only policy for many many years, which still wasn’t racist.
LS: Why did you decide to post the address of a gay couple of Twitter, saying that a British justice team would go to where they live and give them “a bit of drama”?
NG: Their address was already widely available on the Internet anyway, so I just posted it to make it clear that we did know where they lived. Again, if you want to talk addresses, bear in mind that no one in the liberal left complained when thousands of our members’ addresses were published on the Internet thanks to Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
LS: If it’s not an issue, why has there been such a reaction?
NG: I can tell you I’ve had more support from gay people than hostility over this, because they’re sick and tired of heteros going into their clubs and spoiling the atmosphere.
LS: So are you saying that gay people are fed up with straight people going to their clubs?
NG: Plenty of gay people are now fed up of so many straights going to their clubs, particularly in my constituency in Manchester. They want the right to discriminate against heterosexuals, and I’m the only politician in Britain who would give them that right, because I believe people should have the freedom of association.
LS: Referring to gay people, you said “ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive.” I’m gay. What is wrong with people like me?
NG: Let me explain. Gay people have complained for years that the rest of society hasn’t understood how they feel, and has had to make allowances, has to be tolerant. So why can’t you people simply get over it and tolerate the fact that a lot of heterosexual people – we don’t want to persecute you – but we find the sight of two men kissing creepy. That’s just a fact. What’s the problem? You [students] may think I’m a monster, but look at what your fate would be in an Islamic republic of Britain.
LS: The whole reason you’re given a platform to speak is because we have all sorts of different people in society. Why can’t you tolerate other people?
NG: I am given a platform to speak because Britain is still just about a democratic country; I’m there to express views that other people won’t express. And I do tolerate you. In fact, when I took over, the BNP had a policy to re-criminalise homosexuality. Now we now have a policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ People can do whatever they want in private.
LS: So why did you oppose civil partnerships? That’s to do with individuals’ private lives and legal recognition.
NG: Civil partnerships are a way of sliding towards marriage for everyone through the backdoor. It undermines the institution of marriage, and as a result of that, children will die over the next few years, because they’ll be brought up in homes which aren’t married. They’re not all bad of course, but it’s a weaker way of rearing children, that is what the statistics show.
LS: You referred to the Holocaust as the “Holohoax”, why was that?
NG: EU law forbids me to say what I used to believe, why I changed my mind and what I believe now.
Interview: James Greenhalgh
Many will disagree with Leeds Student for publishing this interview. However, the principle behind our decision to print this is the freedom of speech. This paper is proud that we live in a democratic society, and that we can openly challenge and debate all manner of opinion and ideas.
Nick Griffin is an elected MEP, and three years ago in Leeds, a BNP candidate was also elected to the European Parliament. Whilst the views of this party may be unsavoury to say the least, whether we like it or not, they have sufficient local support to return elected members into political office. It is important that all parties are challenged to justify their views, including the BNP.
The BNP goes against everything most students believes in, but we wholeheartedly defend Griffins’ right to be heard. We are not here to police what students read; we know that students are intelligent enough to make up their own minds. We are a paper with a proud history of reporting controversial stories and interviews, and all students who believe in the freedom of press, the freedom to think and the freedom to speak their mind should support this paper in publishing this interview.