Sunday, 2 May 2010

Manning a BNP table top stall

I took part in manning a table-top stall over the weekend, for the British National Party. Well, to be honest I was only there for perhaps an hour and a quarter because I had to get some stuff done and had a suit to look for because I will be attending a wedding in the next week or so.

It was my first time being on the streets on a table top stall, as I have tended to keep my distance to some degree from the front line - often due to my timid nature more than anything else. I was a bit apprehensive, not sure what to expect, whether we would be getting abuse or praise, whether there would be any adverse publicity or such which would put a dampener on the morning.

When I arrived, the stall had already been up and running for about an hour. Decorated in traditional British National Party attire it was instantly recognisable. Voice Of Freedoms and various nationwide and local election material adorned the table top over the national flags, and rosetted prospective candidates were at hand to deal with the public's (at times) mixed reactions and questions.


During my short stint of hanging around, it all went rather smoothly. We were getting a few waves and a few hoots of the horns and thumbs up, and others just kind of nodded at us, some stared in either daydreaming emptiness or even contempt as they slowly drove their cars through the town centre traffic lol. It could be hard to tell with those people.

Of those who did come to the stall whilst I was there, we had plenty of general support. Perhaps that is not surprising considering the town it was done in, which may watch aghast at the state of the neighbouring town which I come from. Some eagerly took the material from the stall, especially as we were not charging for the Voice of Freedom papers, and they commented on how they voted for us last time and wished us luck this time around. Also at hand were some "VOTE BNP" corrugated plastic window signs. I guess you must have to live in quite a "white" area to be able to get away with/be brave enough to stick those in your windows, but they were being taken by supporters. 

Of those who did not agree with us, such as one quite elderly former teacher who was a Liberal Democrat, it did not ever get serious enough to be problematic. The prospective candidate (and some interjection from myself at times) jousted with the issues and we poked general fun at each others' positions. To give the man his due, he was patient and jovial at times whilst trying to undermine the party. He did have some tricky questions to put to us, and we did our best to answer them - and likewise, when we challenged him on some of them, he did not seem to have the answers either.

Being a Liberal Democrat, he did not like any Nuclear issues. That went for both Nuclear Power and Warheads/Trident. He quite rightly asked where we were to store all this hazardous material, and despite some answers which we gave, even a funny one about getting our own back by dumping our waste in other countries, he was quite pleased when he thought he had us over a barrel.

Given the opportunity again, I think I could have put up a better argument - but to be honest, the matter of industrial waste control is not really my speciality subject. Yet saying that, there was much I remembered I should have said about it, after the event. Thinking on your feet and stitching subjects together can be quite a feat.

When we jousted him back (on what he would suggest we do instead of having a deterrent and using nuclear power), he did not really have much to say. Touché, as they say.  The same happened for different subjects, from university degrees to apprenticeships, where more often than not we were actually agreeing on a lot of things rather than jousting.

One thing the fellow did seem to be under the illusion of, was that the British National Party would turn a blind eye to the feckless "whites" who do not want to work, and the rare people who have 7 kids to live off the welfare state etc. He also, quite rightly, commented on the blight of these youngsters who are a bane for communities, known as "Chavs", and seemed to be under the impression that we speak for them, condone them, and ignore them for pointing the finger at everybody else.

Nothing could really convince him otherwise, but really, it is not the case. I wish I had the time again to mention this, and point out that the BNP wish to sort out our own problematic elements in preference to importing a new population instead.

Others came along to support us, saying they were first time voters. One discussed how TB and such is rising quite dramatically in the country and was voting for the BNP because they know that this illness was completely eradicated at one point, before it was reintroduced by mass immigration. It was personal to her because of a family situation regarding illness and the inability of the NHS to cater for their needs.

Another old couple arrived, shook everybody's hands and said they had already voted for us with postal votes. Another middle aged woman came up to us, whose husband was fighting in Afghanistan. She was hostile to the party initially, but after a while of talking about the ins and outs of it all, she left not quite as hostile as she arrived. I doubt we gained a voter, but her impressions did seem to be changed considerably. I would chalk that one up as a success.

We had a couple of younger people drift past uttering "bunch of racist bastards" to each other, whilst others shouted "weyhay!" and waved in support from across the road. Another gent, with an accent from more "down south" came out smiling with something like "keep them blacks out, where they belong".......I wasn't sure whether he was serious or just having a laugh. But I took it as a form of support anyway.

We did notice a very odd man lurking around, behaving rather strangely. You could tell by the look of him that he could be a UAF type, but we gave him the benefit of the doubt and ignored him watching the stall from a distance.

My time was coming to an end, I had to leave the others to it. I do feel a bit guilty about leaving them there, but to be fair, I think I need introducing slowly to potentially hostile environments.

I left thinking we did alright, and although it was a mixed bag at times, it was still not as bad as thought it might be when I first rocked up to the stall. In fact, on the whole Id say it was on the plus side of neutral and even overtly positive. Being a pessimist, that is perhaps an honest indication, as I don't tend to guild the lilly. It was positive on the whole.

Apparently, an hour or so after I left, we had some oppositional minded person throw something rather unpleasant over the stall and one of the members manning the stall. It was thrown from a distance, so it could have been worse. I guess they are too cowardly to come close and do it, especially considering the look of one of the stall members - which is something I will mention in a moment.  I think it might have been vegetable soup they threw over everything, but either way it was an assault under the law.  Needless to say they ran off like cowards.

But despite this, it goes to show that the opposition have no argument or ability to argue. They have to resort to such childish antics because they are too stupid, too scared, or too incapable of challenging us properly in a decent and civil fashion.  It could have been worse, and a worse substance. I did not see the spectacle, but I don't think it had the impact the provoker desired, despite it splattering on some clothes and a few leaflets.

Being a tad paranoid, it would not surprise me if the "watcher" had contacted the local UAF branch who are based in that exact town, to appear and pull a stunt because it was going so well for us. 

Regarding the said activist who took the brunt of it, it was mentioned by some passers by, that one of the stall attendee's attire was not really what they wished to see.  I have seen this supporter a few times at meetings, he seems a very nice guy and you certainly cannot judge a book by its cover - however, his choice of image and attire were at odds with the BNPs modernisation programme.

What on Earth do you do, or say, to a dedicated activist who helps set up and man stalls, sort out events, delivers leaflets, support the party in all ways, but whose personal image, identity, dress style is an issue?

Nobody seems to have mentioned it to him, but it was being noticed by the public. One commenter from the general public quietly muttered out of earshot "club together and buy the man a suit, its not what we want to see".....

In general, coming away from the event, it made me realise that it is difficult for any individual to be able to provide the solutions "there and then" "on the spot" to a whole range of topics. If it was thought about enough, and experience gained through repeat jousting, I am quite sure I could thread a lot of things together and not waste opportunities.

For example, on the issue of nuclear energy I did not mention Nuclear Fission rather than Fusion, I did not mention the ability to be held hostage to the demands of Russia or the Middle East, I did not make the point about building pipelines and fighting wars to be able to lay them, I did not point out that we are replacing nuclear power stations which are due to be beyond their shelf life, and that the new ones are more efficient, and if they were only 10% more efficient, that would mean we could produce more with the same amount of current waste material, and most obviously I did not remember to chip in about our otherwise declining population and why we will need all these power stations to begin with - major clue being the potential 5 Birminghams' which will need to be built for a population increase we never needed - and the power sources they will require.

It is only when you can cohesively stitch issues together that the debates can be won.

The old gentleman who spent some time at the stall commented on how so many things were in such a mess, and how he was glad he was at the end of his time on earth and how he felt sorry for the ones coming in. I refrained from suggesting that it was perhaps liberal views like his that had created half of this chaos, and  how it was his generation which sat idly by and let it all happen.

I hope I am not as pompous when I get old, and find myself commenting on how bad things are whilst ignoring the fact it happened on "my watch".  In the end, though, over the issues discussed, we did have more in common than I think he would like to give credit for.

5 comments:

  1. Very interesting reading. For a long time now i've wanted to do something positive and proactive to support the party, other than donating and being a member. However my views have already cost me one job so i'm wary to say the least. After your experience will you be doing it again? Cygnus.

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  2. When it comes to lending a hand, I think that people need to discover what kind of thing they are suited to - and see if there is any way that they can incorporate those things into real world activity.

    I'm sure that there would be some 'background' stuff which could be done at some point - which would mean you will not risk being identified and have your job put in jeopardy. I was sorry to hear that you have lost your job for standing up for what you believe in (I actually remember you saying previously).

    It is a terrible state of affairs having to live in fear of losing your livelihood just for holding opinions and being a member of a certain legal party. Although I do not have a sensitive job, I still do not tend to bang the drum at work and I keep things pretty separate.

    When it comes to getting involved to a serious degree I have not yet fathomed out how it all works to be honest. I do not understand how they are putting people to use (or more likely not putting people to use).

    At the moment, I do not really pester my local people and they certainly don't seem all that interested in seeing what I could do (am capable of) for the party (in terms of what drives me to write)....but I would bet that the aspect of tapping people's resources depends on your local area organiser and whether you gel with people.

    If you are in a sensitive job and worried about being identified (ie if you live in the same area you work) - I can understand how you wouldn't wish to put yourself forward for helping with a stall or any such 'frontline' event.

    I did not attend meetings for years, and it was only in the last year or so that I went to local meetings again. It was there where I found out who my new regional representative was etc, and used that opportunity to introduce myself offer to lend a hand in some way.

    Nothing much has materialised so far....but I am now kept informed of local events, I was approached open endedly to visit/attend the stall for a while, I have spent some time folding up leaflets into 'three' and into piles of 50 before the local elections, attended the 'count' to watch for dodgy counting at the election counting tables, so on and so forth. Nothing major, and to be honest in some ways the semi-occasional contact suits me.

    Would I be manning a stall again? I am not sure. It went pretty well last time, and that was positive, but given my personal limitations with public speaking I do have a bit of an inbuilt barrier there which still puts me off.

    That's the only thing which does put me off really, aside from facing the occasional screamer.

    I think I could do the same again, attend for an hour or two and when inclined help out with any arguments or debates going on (like there was with the older gent who engaged at the stall).

    Getting directly involved with these things is still something pretty new to me. The experience did not put me off though. Perhaps had I been around at the time where stuff was thrown over the stall, I might have had my willingness tainted - but after some reflection, it is perhaps such things which should make us continue to try harder - if only to spite them!

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  3. Thanks for the response. I'll give some more thought to what i can do to help out whilst minimising the risk to my job. A brief explanation of why i lost the last one is that although i kept my views fairly private, a routine pc check showed that i regularly checked out the bnp's and other nationalist websites. Once this information inevitably got out, certain people with certain agendas were almost gleeful in their vilification of me. And once you are tarred with that brush its almost impossible to shake it. Anyone who believes that we live in a free society needs their head checked. From talking to others in my area they seem to have found the local arm of the party something of a 'closed shop', but maybe that mistrust is understandable or even justified given what they've experienced in the past. Its a real shame that someone as articulate as yourself who has many valid points to make feels uncomfortable with the confrontational side of things. At least you reach people via this blog. Cygnus.

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  4. I know exactly what you're saying about the closed shop aspect, as I have found the same kind of feeling myself.

    Without wishing to criticise too much, as I could not really do better personally, I think there is a hell of a lot more the BNP could do regarding getting members involved.

    I know some members do not wish to be contacted (and I suppose to some extent I am the same in that I don't wish to be nagged all the time) and of course there are those who are in sensitive positions and do not even want calling....but for those who are perhaps retired, out of work, wish to pitch in, surely there is something they can be doing?

    Regarding the closed shop nature, I think it takes time to get known, get into the cliques, gain trust etc.

    I know from personal experience that they have to be careful who they tell what, who they allow to get involved - as there are people who are quite odd and (for example) have walked the floor from being at the opposite end of the political spectrum straight into trying to get involved in local operations.

    Whilst they may be 100% genuine, there are occasons where you just get a notion that things are not always what they seem with some people(but you cannot prove it). It is always tricky to bring up without offending somebody, just like it is tricky to tackle people on their choice of attire when they are obviously a dedicated member.

    When it comes to meetings, due to the disgusting anti-democratic/fascist nature of the opposition, naturally the BNP organisers do not wish to overtly advertise to all and sundry where they are meeting - to limit intimidation to landlords, hotel staff, even violent damage and vandalism of people's property. It does go on, although I have never encountered it at ones I have attended.

    Much like the views you encountered in your workplace, you are right, it is absurd to say we live in a free society.

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