An encounter with the real BNP

Matthew Collins - 24 05 09
Adam Walker's dubious salute

Adam Walker’s dubious salute

While other members of the HOPE not hate tour team busied themselves in Lancashire, the bus headed further north.

And so, in Darlington on a Friday night, our (increasingly) stoic driver Kevin, Tom from the Mirror and I found newly weds Matthew and Manuela Sewell in our hotel lobby wondering how to get their pictures taken on top of the big red bus. Of course, we duly obliged and what smashing pictures they now have.

Foolishly waking in the morning believing that love was all around us, we took the spectacular drive to Spennymoor, through the beautiful and green English countryside, in a very bright mood.

Tom, an experienced and well travelled journalist, and I exchanged stories about some of the banal and quite honestly weird characters we had met during our careers. And I must admit, as a former BNP activist, I bettered Tom’s menagerie of African warlords, clerical fascists and circus acts.

Helen Goodman, the MP for Bishop Auckland, greeted us excitedly with thirty other activists from the Labour Party, the women’s refuge and local trade unions. They had been distributing the excellent leaflet on Women’s Rights, which highlights the attitude of the BNP towards women, in no small way focusing on the former BNP London Assembly candidate Nick Erikson, who described rape as no worse than force feeding a woman chocolate.

While Helen was greeting us, the spectre of Adam Walker, the BNP’s lead candidate in the North East, was not far away. Exhibiting the BNP’s contemptuous attitude towards people with disabilities, Walker had parked his vehicle in a disabled parking space to get a close-up view of the bus. He departed with the proverbial flea in his Aryan ear.

We soon caught up with Walker and the rather bizarre Pete Molloy from Liverpool (of Fathers For Justice infamy) on the high street where they were standing with a Union Flag and struggling to give away copies of the BNP’s election literature.

Helen believes that the BNP are the worst aberration of the current political vaccum one could ever imagine. "They love nothing, love no one," she told us.

"They drive us, literally, because people wonder what on earth they stand for other than hatred and division. Their attitudes towards women and the disabled in particular are beyond belief.

"They have motivated a movement here against the very things they stand for. I’m not complacent, but it is quite clear to me they are an issue, if need be, that can drive people back to the polls, even if it is only to defeat them."

Kevin and I had been using comfort stops to blow up the odd HOPE not hate balloon, but Helen’s army took over the bus in seconds, inflating and distributing hundreds of balloons. They even produced string and scissors to tie them before taking to the streets of Spennymoor to hand them out.

And then, along came Mark Walker, brother of Adam. He’s not so busy these days considering his employment difficulties (he lost his teaching job after allegations of accessing adult porn on school computers), so rather bizarrely he wanted to pass himself off as merely an inquisitive member of the public.

Mark’s problem is that he is well known to the women from the refuge and no amount of shoving his pram at people would get them to engage with him. Instead, the women from the refuge gave his child a balloon in the vain hope of placating the child’s rather excitable father.

The attempt failed. Mark Walker began a rant about lesbians and fascism and, for some reason, his rights. He then turned to the matter of the statements by Nick Erikson featured on our leaflet.

"He wrote that while he was in the Conservative Party," said Mark pushing his chest out. "And then you recruited him," came our immediate reply.

Meanwhile Adam Walker and Molloy busied themselves staring into shop windows.

The Mirror are very interested in Adam and Mark Walker, but despite their calls to be heard and to have "free speech" they would not talk to the paper’s journalist. Instead, Adam Walker gave us a dubious looking salute while Molloy, having mixed and mismatched two suits, berated people passing him with HOPE not hate stickers on them. I guess he thinks that having two medals pinned to his "blazer" entitles him to behave like the Liverpudlian TV bigot Alf Garnett.

In nearby Ferryhill the mood changed. The MP for Sedgefield, Phil Wilson, has had run-ins with the BNP before and refuses to engage with them in any way. There were more BNP supporters in Ferryhill, six in all, including Adam Walker who followed us (without Molloy) and two children who boarded the bus to let off "stink bombs". I’m sure I do not need to draw any comparisons there.

While Adam Walker, who faces striking off proceedings by the General Teaching Council over religious intolerance, surrounded himself with young children, Phil Wilson spoke of his disappointment over the current scandals surrounding all politicians. "It’s got to be the end of that sort of culture," he declared.

"I’m a relatively new MP so I come to the job full of enthusiasm. We have a tiny ethnic community here and we have to convince them to engage in European elections. When we see the BNP with their hatred and their divisiveness campaigning here I realise exactly what my job is about.

"It’s about delivering for everyone, delivering equality, jobs and hope at a time when the cynical opportunists try and muscle in using racism to divide communities in difficult times."

That was when Mark Walker turned up again, shoving his pram and "complaining" about the smell of "stink bombs".

Walker wanted answers. He wanted to know who I was and who the Mirror journalist was. "I want your picture," he demanded of me, so being the good fellow I am, I obliged. That was not enough, however. Told by one woman that he was being silly, he actually responded with, "I’m very clever. I have qualifications to prove it."

And then the BNP showed what they are really like. The police had arrived to make sure that emotions did not boil over and suddenly the children were on their own, dumped by the BNP in the face of inquisitive eyes.

One of the children, no older than ten, walked up to Tom and shoved his face into Tom’s chest. "You’re a c**t you are, mister," he spat. "You’re a f***ing c**t". Tom was bemused, but given the obnoxious behaviour of the BNP that he had witnessed all day, none too surprised.

On the drive to Durham, Tom and I finally concurred on who the most unpleasant person we had met was.


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