Saturday 18 April 2009

Another Fine Mess in Beds and Bucks .... (reproduced from June 2007)

There are times when the anti-fascist struggle is precisely that – a long, hard haul with little visible return. However, there are those precious times when fascist groups turn in upon themselves and push the self-destruct button. Our job then is purely to sit back and admire their handiwork, as has been the case recently in the case with events in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

One could make the case that regional prospects for the BNP were looking relatively rosy after the May elections. First-time candidate Phill Carter got a cuddle from Nick Griffin for her 22% in Stratton ward, Biggleswade and NF-convert Chris Brennan chipped in with a reasonable 17% in Luton. Recruitment in neighbouring Hertfordshire was bubbling up and with a capacity start-up June meeting in Aylesbury, local campaigners could see an arc of activity appearing across the three counties of Beds, Bucks and Herts.

As a May newsletter for activists mentioned,

"Beds and Bucks was just one group only three years ago. We now have new groups in South Bucks (Chilterns), Aylesbury and Luton as well as the "mother group" Beds & Bucks. We now seek to establish new self governing groups in Milton Keynes, Mid-Bedfordshire, South Beds and Bedford."

The framework for this region was provided by activists in Milton Keynes, lead by the trio of fundholder Steve Sherwood, Barry Taylor and Anna Seymour. Between them, these three ran the Luton BNP website, organised leafletting campaigns and supported local candidates at count night in the May elections.
A meeting to plan future campaigning was held in Milton Keynes mid-June when local activists met regional organisers Roger Robertson and Eddy Butler, who rode into town in the company of Essex activist Miss Emma Colgate. Prior to this meeting Taylor had whined long and hard to local members about the aloof attitude of Sherwood and wanted to bring his regional influence to an end. He got his way through the appointment of Phill Carter as North Beds. organiser; Blood and Honour wannabe Robert Sheddock as Luton fundholder and ex-November 9th Society member John Cater as Luton organiser. Sheddock and Cater were thought to be a winning combination, although Cater was rejected as a candidate in May because his politics (straight-arm variety) were considered beyond the pale. Sherwood’s favoured candidate for Luton organiser, hypnotist Chris Chibnall, took a long lie down on the couch as he was sidelined. Sherwood’s wife Kay, an activist herself, reportedly left the meeting in tears.

Events then started to take on a life of their own. A council bye-election was called for Whaddon ward in Milton Keynes and local BNP activists wanted Anna Seymour to stand. Seymour has a somewhat eclectic past and present – having two mixed-race children from a relationship with an African-American in the 1980’s. Along with Barry Taylor they choose to straddle a variety of nationalist groupings, having dealings with the BNP, Nationalist Alliance, British People’s Party (BPP) and lately, the England First Party. They specialise in support for Tyr Services, a nationalist marketing group run by Ricky Fawcus, now resident in Sweden. With political astuteness (such a CV was bound to cause problems for the BNP) and with awareness of the internal campaign run against him, Sherwood baulked at the suggestion of Seymour’s candidacy.

Ricky Fawcus (left), Steve Smith (right)

Veteran nationalist Les Andrews from nearby Bedford had received a long-service award from Nick Griffin at a local meeting just 18-months ago, but that didn’t stop him jumping ship to the England First Party earlier in the year. On hearing the news of Seymour’s rejection by Sherwood, he got on the hotline to the EFP’s leadership in Lancashire. Undeterred by the fact that there are only 4 EFP members in the region, elections organiser Simon Bennett saw an opportunity for the Party to break out of its north-west heartland. Anna was therefore adopted as a candidate and the entire Milton Keynes BNP branch (minus Sherwood and without the knowledge of hapless South-East Organiser Roger Robertson) swung behind the campaign. Barry Taylor appeared to be happy that their distribution of two leaflets and cavalcade in a battered Fiat Punto was proceeding "under the radar" of both local media and local anti-fascists.

Local attention was drawn however, by the content of the leaflets, which railed against translation costs, an "influx immigrants and asylum seekers" and a school that dared to have children speaking 32 languages. The local contact number for the EFP was a mobile number belonging to Barry, identical to that found on a website that registers his involvement as a UK Honeybee Swarm Co-ordinator. In fact, the website of the North Bucks Beekeeping Association appears to be hosted by Taylor and with alarmist talk on its pages of "imported bee parasites as a result of Global Capitalist exploitation" it appears he is writing more than his fair share of the content too.

Left to right : Bert Leech, Anna Seymour, Steve Smith, Les Andrews

In the election Seymour gained 8% of the votes and contributors on the nazi-web forum Stormfront purred about the way that UKIP were relegated far down the poll. These comments took on more of a hostile tone when local anti-fascists seized their moment and informed the local press about the candidate’s membership of the BNP, active involvement with Tyr Services and her fulsome praise of a deceased John Tyndall in the online book of condolence for the openly-Nazi British People’s Party :

"Sadly I was only able to meet John on two occasions at recent meetings here in Milton Keynes, and I must say on both occasions i was moved by his noble love and patriotism of this once great land, which sadly no longer belongs to us the indigenous natives."

A front page story in the Milton Keynes News caught many of the characters unawares. Roger Robertson was forced to expel both Taylor and Seymour from the BNP on account of the fact that they campaigned openly for the EFP, a proscribed organisation. Seymour spluttered out that she had left the BNP "because they were too racist." This sits uneasily alongside the fact that two weeks later, she was pouring coffees for Richard Edmonds and 50 members of the BPP at a local John Tyndall Memorial Meeting, where nazi flags and paramilitary merchandise were openly on sale.

The aftermath of this episode features personal setbacks for many local activists on the far-right :
  • The leadership of the EFP is being ridiculed by nationalists for failing to check on the credentials of one of its candidates;
  • Taylor and Seymour have been expelled from the BNP;

  • Milton Keynes BNP organiser Steve Sherwood has apparently left the party;
  • South East BNP regional organiser Roger Robertson is being questioned for his inability to influence activists in the Home Counties;

Local BNP activists in Luton and Biggleswade are now cast adrift from the support provided by the "mother group" in Milton Keynes.

For anti-fascists this represents an opportunity to press home our advantage, having put the opposition on the back foot. Fortunately, the activities of Taylor and Seymour, both past and present, have the potential to create many more embarrassing local headlines in the months ahead ......

1 comment:

  1. Why does this site have links to BNP sites but none to local anti-fascist groups? Seems strange to make it easy for BNP sympathisers but not for anyone wanting to get involved locally to oppose fascism and racism.