Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Nick Griffin’

Bonnie Greer’s Confessional

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 8th August, 2014

Bonnie Greer picBonnie Greer book

The black American playwright, cultural commentator and journalist Bonnie Greer grew up in Chicago’s poor south side at a time when one’s skin colour defined one’s identity — and for many people, one’s role in life. But it clear from her 400-page memoir of the first 30 years of her life, A Parallel Life (Arcadia Books, £14.99) that her search for herself was at least as much about what sort of person she herself was as about ethnicity. The eldest of seven children of obviously loving, yet quite strict, Catholic parents, she found herself torn between their expectations and her deep desire to rebel. And to write — an occupation she took up aged nine, though it was years before she found her true voice and medium. The book finishes with her move to New York, in a car driven by two friends getting high on cocaine. And by this time she had realised that she preferred the company of gays ( especially drag queens) to  straight men, though essentially heterosexual herself. Parts of her memoir pick up on the political and cultural moods of the time, from Chicago’s Mayor Daley to the assassinations of both Kennedys, with plenty of musical and film referencing as well. The reader is given the tip-off that she will later find an anchorage in Paris and then London, though the brief pages on an early visit to Amsterdam and the UK are telescoped so much that they at times are confused and confusing. Indeed, what is so striking about Bonnie Greer’s time in the confessional — which is how the book appears — is how the style changes rapidly, from fluent, well-rounded paragraphs to staccato single sentences, or even just a few words. It has all just poured out, or so it seems, which of course gives it it’s vitality. By the end it is clear that the author is indeed no angel, but a force to be reckoned with. And one understands exactly why, as well as how, she managed to keep her back turned on the BNP’s Nick Griffin in the celebrated episode of Question Time when he was a guest as an elected MEP.


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Bye Bye BNP?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 5th January, 2014

Nick GriffinNick Griffin, Leader of the British National Party and MEP for the North West of England, was declared bankrupt at his home town of Welshpool this week, but he announced that he will still be standing for re-election at the European elections on 22 May. He is legally entitled to do so, as bankruptcy is no longer a barrier to candidature and he will be entitled to a better redundancy package when he loses his seat in the polls, which I hope and believe he will. The BNP is a stain on multicultural Britain, but fortunately like most far-right groups it has been a hotbed of factionalism and personal rivalries. The other BNP elected as an MEP in 2009, for Yorkshire and the Humber, Andrew Brons — previously Chairman of the National Front — withdrew from the BNP and now sits under the label British Democratic Party. I suspect he will lose his seat as well, if he stands again. That is not just wishful thinking. Though far right fringe parties come and go in Britain, they are always a flash in the pan. The BNP had 12 councillors in the London borough of Barking & Dagenham, as well as a few in neighbouring Havering and Redbridge, for example, but subsequently lost the lot. It’s been a similar picture in the rest of the country, so that at the moment there are just three BNP councillors left in the whole of the UK. Given the way the party has imploded, how soon will be able to say farewell to them as well?


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Liberalising Barking and Dagenham

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 6th September, 2010

The good news in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham in May was that the BNP got wiped out. They lost every single councillor they had and party leader, Nick Griffin MEP, failed miserably in his attempt to seize the parliamentary seat of Barking from Margaret Hodge. But the bad news was that the borough became a one-party state, sharing with neighbouring Newham the ignominy of having a 100% Labour Council. That’s right, not a single opposition member. That can’t be good for democracy and it certainly isn’t good for the people of Barking & Dagenham. So it was with great pleasure that several members of the London Liberal Democrats’ regional executive joined local LibDem campaigners to launch a rejuvenated local party in the borough this evening. It’s not all that long ago that Eastbury ward in Barking was LibDem held, but unfortunately one of the councillors died and two moved away. However, the fightback starts here. And there will be plenty for local members and new recruits to do before the next round of local elections in 2014, given the likely AV referendum in May next year and the London Mayoral and London Assembly elections in 2012.

[photo courtesy of Mark Pack]

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Ken, Julie, Shazia and a Tory Called Dave

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 30th January, 2010

There was a rowdy Question Time-style meeting (compered by DJ Stewart Who?) at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Lambeth last night, at which the main sport for some was clearly Bindel-baiting. Columnist and radical feminist political activist Julie Bindel has upset the transgender community with several of her comments about gender dysphoria and related topics, and about 40 Trans-people and friends held a good-humoured demonstration outside the venue (corraled safely by police, well away from the entrance) chanting slogans criticising the RVT’s decision to ‘give a platform to bigotry’. Inside the pub was much noisier at times, as a few persistent hecklers shouted at her every time she said (or they thought she said) something that offended them, some even drawing parallels between her and Nick Griffin of the BNP. One person threw a plastic name-badge and lanyard at her. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the out-gay Tory parliamentary candidate for Eltham, David Gold, and I therefore found ourselves having to speak up for freedom of speech, as well as defining our own varying lines on the LGBT issues that were being raised. Shazia Mirza, the Muslim comedian who, like Julie Bindel, has been receiving death threats, brought some welcome light relief with some well-judged satirical jokes. It was a shame, though, that the evening became rather dominated by the Bindel-bashing, as I would have liked to ask the personable David Gold what he is going to do to protest about his party leadership’s cuddling up to homophobes in Northern Ireland and the European Parliament. And also to explain the extraordinary boxed quote at the top of his website, from ‘a former Labour voter’, viz: “My purse was stolen in the supermarket. Immigration is out of control. We need a change.” That strikes me as pandering to xenophobia, even racism, which sits oddly with his commitment to LGBT rights.

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Merry Christmas from Nick Griffin (God Help Us)

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 23rd December, 2009

Jolly seasonal posters have started appearing on hoardings around Barking in East London, showing British National Party leader Nick Griffin toasting everyone with a glass of wine and wishing them a Merry Christmas from himself and the BNP. If anyone had any doubts that the party was going to fight the parliamentary seat seriously at the forthcoming general election, such doubts must now be dispelled. The BNP has already caused outrage by associating itself with Winston Churchill (a politician who fought against fascism all his life) and the Battle of Britain. Now the wretched racist crew is trying to co-opt Christmas — the celebration of the birth of a prophet who preached love and tolerance, the very opposite of many BNP messages. It’s enough to make one puke. Doubtless this latest BNP manoeuvre will be condemned by Church leaders; it certainly should be. And it should galvanize other political parties to redouble their efforts to show the Barking electorate that Nick Griffin and his mates in no way represent the Best of British.

(photo: Helen Duffett)

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We Don’t Want Nick Griffin in East London

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 17th November, 2009

The deluded voters of North West England who sent BNP leader Nick Griffin to Brussels as one of their MEPs in June must be disappointed that he has chosen to express his deep commitment to the area by putting forward his candidacy for the Westminister parliamentary seat of Barking in East London just five months later. Talk about carpet-bagging. The absurd thing is that the BNP is the official opposition to Labour on Barking and Dagenham borough council. They got in there not just because they capitalised on Labour’s failure to tackle some of the real problems in the area, but also because they shamelessly borrowed Liberal Democrat tactics of presenting themselves as community politicians, knocking on doors, seemingly caring about bread-and-butter issues, while keeping some of their more scary members and supporters of the streets. Could they really not find someone local to fight this parliamentary seat for them? Instead, they are going to parachute in their Great Leader, presumably in the hope that they will get lots of media attention. Probably they will, though it may not be helpful to their cause. Along with millions of other people, I watched Nick Griffin on Question Time the other week and was surprised, not by his deviousness and inconsistency, but that he came across as such a plonker.

When Oswald Mosley tried to woo the East End for his crypto-fascists he got the rough reception he deserved, and Nick Griffin deserves the same. It is also essential that all of the other parties, including the Liberal Democrats, choose strong candidates to fight this seat, not just to show the BNP leader up in hustings but also to give the disillusioned voters of Barking someone worthwhile to support.


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BNP Win in Bexley Thwarted by Recount

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 22nd January, 2009

I spent part of this afternoon telling in Welling, in a primary school that was serving as a polling station in the East Wickham by-election. Two things struck me as unusual. First, people were coming out to vote briskly at a time when normally turnout is sluggish, especially in mid January. But second, and much more disconcerting, was how determinedly charming the three (sic) BNP tellers standing with me were. This is the new style BNP — at least, that is the image they wish to give. Party leader Nick Griffin has masterminded this transformation and was in the ward earlier this week, encouraging the troops. The net result of all this, I was informed sadly at 2330, was that the BNP had won, seizing a ward that was Liberal Democrat not so long ago. But a recount has instead delivered a final, confirmed Tory majority of 8 votes! I don’t normally drink to a Conservative win, but my whisky glass is by my side.

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