Friday, 9 May 2008

Richard Barnbrook shunned at first GLA meeting

Two BNP supporters look on as their man finds his seat.

I step out of the City Hall lift and into the centre of a blazing row. Outside the glass doors of the chamber, two BNP supporters are shouting at a man, as he tells them that Nazis aren't welcome in London. 

One of the two is a red-headed woman who I think I recognise from BNP videos and the other is a short balding man who is becoming increasingly angry. He turns to the other man and says:

"Look you. London is a violent crime ridden cesspit and Richard Barnbook will be a breath of fresh air."

Inside the chamber and there is more than a breath of fresh air between Barnbrook's seat and the rest of the assembly. The seating is arranged in a horseshoe shape and whoever was in charge has put Barnbrook right at one end, with a one-seat gap between him and the other members. If it was meant to alienate him then it has worked, and from what I saw today it will be a position he will have to get used to.

I sit myself behind the BNP supporters as we wait for the other assembly members to arrive. They are now joined by a man with an Italian accent named Guiseppe. After the meeting Barnbrook welcomes him by his first name so I assume that this must be Giuseppe De Santis. 

De Santis was part of the BNPs unsuccessful attempts to create a Europe-wide alliance of far-right groups. He was also as it happens, a member of the 'better off out' campaign to leave the EU run by the Freedom Association. They too it seems have few qualms about who helps their cause.

The first piece of business is the election of the Chair and deputy chair. The 'rainbow' coalition of Labour Lib Dems and Greens all unite to elect Jeanette Arnold to the position of Chair. Jeanette is a black Labour member representing Hackney and from the look of it Barnbrook isn't pleased. His supporters give each other a knowing look.

But when the position of Deputy Chair is put to the vote I am momentarily surprised by Barnbrook's choice. Throughout the session Barnbrook either votes with the Tories or abstains. But when the Assembly are asked to choose between Tony Arbour of the Tories or Darren Johnson of the Greens, Barnbrook gives his vote to the latter.

I am left puzzled for a second, wondering why Barnbrook voted with the left coalition against a Tory candidate and then suddenly it strikes me: Tony Arbour isn't white.

Because for all their ideological mumbo jumbo, the default position of the BNP is White Power. And while they may hate the environmentalist or the communist, there is no hatred that will overcome their race hatred. And as their friendship with De Santis shows, despite all of their spiel about unsustainable immigration, there is clearly no limit to the number of foreign white Nazis that they will welcome to these shores.

As the meeting continues Barnbrook seems completely out of his depth. At several points he tries to hijack proceedings with a rambling speech about his complaint to the Standards Boards for England (or 'standing board' as he calls it) but he is twice silenced by the word of the chair (or mayor as he calls her.) And as the meeting draws to a close I wonder just what he expects to get out of this assembly. 

From what I saw today it's clear that Barnbrook's real interest is not in being part of the assembly as he claims, but in manufacturing conflicts and gaining publicity for his party. 

However, with Labour and Tory threats of non-cooperation, and with the seating arrangement in the assembly, the other parties are at risk of playing directly into his hands. Because by trying to extend the 'no-platform' approach into an elected assembly, they are only dressing him in the martyrs clothes that he seeks.

So for my money the best way to deal with Barnbrook would be to call his bluff and to give him exactly what he asks for. Involve him in the driest of committees and give him the most tedious of the assembly's tasks. Because by denying him cooperation, the assembly are only allowing him to pose as the champion of democracy that he most definitely isn't. 

So give him what he asks for and test his clearly limited abilities. Because it is only then that Londoners will see just what little commitment the BNP really have to this city.


Doug said...

I know Tony Arbour isn't white - but isn't Darren Johnson openly gay? A quick check of wikipedia seems to support this...

Perhaps Barnbrook didn't know, or ranks his party's hates in order of priority...

The Tory Troll said...

I don't think Barnbrook is particularly knowledgable about his fellow assembly members, or the assembly itself, or indeed very much at all. Having said that, it is just possible that Barnbrrok didn't realise what he was voting for. There did seem to be a bit of a scattergun approach to whether he voted with the tories or abstained.

Toneytony said...

It's 'don't ask don't tell' for the BNP isn't it? Don't ask whether your leader has directed a gay porn film and don't tell anyone that he has.

Jim Jay said...

Perhaps this will be a new BNP slogan - "better gay than black"... I'm sure Darren Johnson would have prefered this creep not to vote for him.

Basil Brush said...

You missed a couple of things which appeared on the webcast.

Firstly the new tory on the GLA was a bit of a livewire and asked about the comittees saying it was like 'an old boys club'then the Arnold woman said this is how it is done, he fired back saying 'just because you used to do it that way doesnt mean we have to do it now.'

Then near the end of the meeting when they were discussing the Goverment Reception event the new Tory asked what were the benefits of holding a soiree (his more experienced mates had no such qualms), Arnold said they would write a report looking at what benefits came from the previous years. This new Tory was a bit to independent he needs reigning in! I think Barnbrook might have a new friend.

THEN Barnbrook says I WOULD LIKE TO PUT IT ON RECORD I THINK RATHER THAN PAYING FOR A SLAP UP MEAL THE MONEY WOULD BE BETTER SPENT DIRECTLY ON LOCAL COMMUNITIES. So there you have it, the only real opposition to pigs with their noses in the trough was 1 new tory and R.Barnbrook, the only oppsition on the GLA. If he had not been there all parties would have been most in favour, hes going to be a real thorn in their backsides...GOOD.

As for him voting for Darren Johnson, more likely because if you look at his past he is involved in landscape art and is quite a greenie.

The Tory Troll said...

I wondered how long it would take you lot to find your way on here. I didn't 'miss' any of his rants. I got them all down in shorthand. I just spotted them for the posturing that they so obviously were.

As for Dick, I have to say it's a new one on me about his love of landscape art. I always thought cinema was more his thing.

Green Gordon said...

Who is this "New Tory"? For Richard Barnbrook's sake I hope not openly gay Andrew Boff. His little fascist head might explode.

Anonymous said...

Wherever Barnbrook is becomes a seat of honor.