Nick Griffin going to jail ? – That don’t impress me much !
I’m obliged to Becky Walker aka @CollectorManiac (blog at Socialism Of The Heart ) for directing me to this article on the Times website re. Nick Griffin : BNP crisis as Nick Griffin faces jail over whites-only policy with the tweet : Nick Griffin may face jail – A story we can all enjoy. http://tumblr.com/xg15eviah
However, much as I absolutely share her dislike for Nick Griffin and his revolting bunch of racist thugs, I didn’t really enjoy the story so much. Let me tell you why.
First of all the story’s not really acting on new news – it’s just pre-empting the deadlines set after the county court hearing in October, brought about by the action of the Equality & Human Rights Commission which set the BNP three months to amend it’s constitution “so that it does not discriminate, either directly or indirectly on any ‘protected characteristic’ – for example on the grounds of race, ethnic or religious status – as defined in clause 4 of the Equality Bill” . The three months are up on Friday and the court hearing re-convenes on January 28th.
The article is therefore assuming that the BNP have taken no action, and will not before Friday – which is pure conjecture of course. I do however suspect that they may be right.
The article also has as it’s core subject, the possibility of the BNP leader being sent to prison. Well this would be extremely unlikely. I’m no legal expert, but I think that the County Court is a civil court – not a criminal court, and as such has no power to impose custodial sentences (can anyone confirm this ?) – of course failure to comply with the court’s instructions might – ultimately – lead to imprisonment.
Which brings me to my major difficulty with this story : If Nick Griffin were to be imprisoned it would be the biggest publicity coup they could ever have. Why ? Well – how many of us here in our snug homes in Britain were rooting for Morgan Tsvangiri in Zimbabwe despite having only the vaguest notion of anything about him, other than that he’d been unfairly imprisoned ? Well I was for one. He was unfairly imprisoned – and if Nick Griffin were imprisoned over this issue that would be unfair too.
The Times article states : “Officials question whether the head of a political party who has been imprisoned, fined or has had his assets sequestrated could continue to be its leader” . We need only look as far as Nelson Mandela for an answer to that question. Mandela achieved near world-wide sainthood despite being twenty odd years behind bars as leader of the ANC.
Of course neither the EHRC, or the County Court are likely to be short-sighted enough to risk the martyrdom of the BNP leader, but articles like this one may already have done a lot of damage.
To understand why, one needs to consider the likely mindset of potential BNP voters. Just this morning for instance I saw a message posted on Facebook which read “Dave : thinks this is just hypochrocy (sic) this goverment sends our brave boys to their deaths ,yet stands by & lets islamic fanatics march, all for the asian vote.!!!!!!!!!!!”
A reference to the planned march by some Muslim group in Wootton Bassett. Now despite me giving him this link : PM strikes out at Wootton Bassett Islamic march plans , which sees Prime Minister Gordon Brown denounce the planned march in fairly stark terms : “it would be disgusting and offensive” he still believes that somehow the Government are encouraging Islamic extremists to march in areas sensitive to the memories of British soldiers killed in action. It’s not true – but the damage is done.
I know Dave and he’s not a bad man, but neither is he a big reader of the political press, and yes he is susceptible to the likes of the BNP. So when he sees the “tabloid-ed down” version of the Time’s story on Nick Griffin’s ‘possible’ imprisonment, probably reading it in The Sun in his tea-break, he won’t do any in depth critique or analysis – he’ll just assume that the Government are trying to put Nick Griffin in jail, and then when Nick Griffin starts making claims comparing himself with Nelson Mandela, and Gordon Brown with Robert Mugabe, there’s a fair chance he might believe him.
So this report didn’t cheer me up much.
At least I broke my blogging drought though !