BNP Votes End To White-Only PolicyThe British National Party (BNP) has made amendments of its constitution to allow non-white people to become members to join its party.

The anti-immigration party was forced to reconsider its whites only policy following the threat of legal action that would have left the party financially crippled.
 
Nick Griffin, the BNP leader and Member of European Parliament for North West England, urged his party members to approve the amendment after the Central London County Court ordered it to comply with anti-discrimination legislation.

Yesterday’s meeting, which saw the proposal approved, was arranged hastily after the court hearing on the 28th January that threatened legal action by the independent statutory body, the Equality Human Rights Commission. The changes are now being waited for approval by the EHRC.

Griffin told members that the changes had to be made if the party stood a chance of partaking in this year’s general election, but reassured them that it would not become a “multi racial” party.

Following the decision, Griffin said he expected a “trickle, rather than a flood,” of applications. “Anyone can be a member of this party. We are happy to accept anyone as a member providing they agree with us that this country should remain fundamentally British,” he told Sky News.

According to BNP spokesman, Simon Darby, of the “300 to 400” people who attended the meeting, just five voted against the motion.

The first non white member to sign up to the BNP is likely to be Rajinder Sing, a 78 year old Sikh man. Griffin told the BBC that non whites would be, “accepted, they’ll be welcomed, providing they’re there to do the things that we want to do, and providing they accept and agree with our principles, which is that multiculturalism, we believe, has been a failure. It was imposed on the British people without any consent, by the political elite. It’s still going on, it’s madness and it’s time to shut the doors.”

It remains uncertain, however, whether lawyers from the EHRC will approve the amendment.

Strong criticism has emerged in response to what has been attacked a pragmatic move. Weyman Bennett, national secretary of Unite Against Fascism, said: “I think that regardless of the vote, the changes are cosmetic and have only happened because the courts forced them to stop racist practices.”

These claims certainly weren’t outwardly denied by Darby when the Guardian asked whether the party was still racist he dubiously replied: “Let’s put it like this: if as a result of this, a court rules that we are now a bona fide party, that’s a great stamp of approval. If anyone says we are racist, we can say ‘no we’re not; it’s been proved in court.”

The amendment has coincided with the criticism from army leaders that the BNP has used the military for political gain. An online campaign to celebrate the 21st birthday of a wounded British soldier, who lost his arm and an eye in Helmand province, has been supported by the party.

Military officials accused the BNP of a lack of transparency, claiming that the vulnerable soldier, Fusilier James, was being unfairly linked to the party. Major Cordingley, the commander of the Desert Rats in the Gulf War, told the Times that the BNP were, “stooping very low indeed.”

 “I am irritated by the way they are using members of the Armed Forces and not being transparent in their aims. One would be very concerned that this young man would now be associated with the BNP when I am quite certain that is far from his mind.”

Claims that the party exploits the Armed Forces were also made last October, when the BNP highlighted its donations to military charities and repeatedly used imagery of soldiers.

The BNP had its most successful electoral record last year, winning two seats in the European Parliament and its first three on county councils. The party is now focused on winning the seat of Barking, east London, where Griffin is trying to win over the position held by Margaret Hodge, Labour’s Culture Minister.

The EHRC will review the BNP’s amendment and consider the legality of their constitution in the next court hearing on March 9.
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