British National party (BNP) skinheads are being urged to cover up their shaven scalps as the far-right group seeks to present a new, more respectable image, according to a leaked internal “war book”.
Polling experts believe the antiimmigration party led by Nick Griffin has a chance of picking up its first seats in the European parliament in June by capitalising on recession-fuelled rows over “British jobs for British workers”.
A handbook distributed to activists discloses how the BNP, which has already won a string of council by-elections, plans to soften its extremist reputation and appeal to potential supporters as an “alternative extended family”.
The manual for activists includes: Orders to “make sure your team are tidily dressed and look presentable. No naked torsos in summer, unshaven scruffs or skinhead haircuts (put them in caps or hats)”. Suggestions for the use of internet blogs to attack opponents, including ostensibly independent local blogs that “help us to collect and disseminate material damaging to other parties”. Ideas for reviving St George’s Day traditions to combat the “growing power of Islam”.
The handbook urges activists to rebrand the BNP by always using its full name. “The initials BNP have to an extent been turned into a demonised tag by the media,” it says. “‘British National party’ sounds more reasonable and comfortable.”
It warns members not to “express extreme views or advocate violence of any description. Your e-mails are probably less secure than you think”.
The manual says campaigning events are to be graded, green, amber or red. Red events are in “areas where there are heightened community tensions” and “must include advance consultations . . . [with] the national head of security”.
There is also advice on dealing with the police and Special Branch, described in the manual as “Britain’s secret police”. BNP members are advised to tell them to “get back into their kennels”.
The handbook adds: “Millions of people live very lonely and isolated lives. The decline of the family and the break-up of communities mean there is a big gap in [their] lives. Filling that gap, giving people an ‘alternative extended family’, is the most powerful recruiting tool.”
A spokesman for the campaign group Searchlight said: “This booklet exposes the reality behind the BNP mask of respectability. What other political party feels the need to ask its senior organisers to be careful not to get caught discussing their plans for violent behaviour on the internet?”
Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP, defended its tactics: “We switched to recruiting on the net because we do not get a fair crack from the traditional media.”