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BNP - leadership

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7135551.ece

From The Times
May 25, 2010
Nick Griffin’s resignation ‘is an attempt to thwart BNP coup’
Fiona Hamilton

Nick Griffin is to resign as the leader of the British National Party in an attempt to see off an immediate leadership challenge.

He announced yesterday that he would stand down in 2013, after being subjected to growing internal criticism and a number of plots to oust him. The party failed to win any parliamentary seats at the general election, notably the key target seat of Barking, East London, where Mr Griffin was relegated to third place and trailed Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP, by 18,000 votes.

The party also lost all but two of its council seats, although it increased its share of the national vote to 1.9 per cent.

After the election Mr Griffin’s position became increasingly tenuous. He faced calls to resign and party dissidents set up a rival website calling for reform.

The party conceded that it had suffered a “bloody nose” and said its campaign methods would be overhauled.

According to its website, Mr Griffin will step down to concentrate on his re-election campaign to the European Parliament in 2014. Mr Griffin said: “By then [2013] I would have been leader of the BNP for 15 years and that is long enough. It will be time to make way for a younger person who does not have any baggage which can be used against the party. I then intend to help the other European nationalist parties to achieve the level of sophistication which the BNP has been able to build up, because a victory for any one of these parties is a victory to all of us.”

However, there was widespread speculation over whether he would actually stand down. Dan Hodges, a spokesman for Searchlight, a magazine that campaigns against the BNP, said the announcement was a stalling tactic. “This isn’t a resignation, this is a pretty transparent attempt by Nick Griffin to play for time and shore up his position as the leader,” Mr Hodges said. “It is a very naked effort to deflect the growing criticism of him and his disastrous election campaign.”

Margaret Hodge said that it was a desperate attempt to cling to power, “but we so demoralised them that he will probably implode anyway”.

An attempt was made to overthrow Mr Griffin in April. Simon Bennett, the head of the party’s online operation, then resigned and took the website down with him. Mr Griffin has been leader of the BNP since 1999. He won a seat in the European Parliament last year and made a landmark appearance on Question Time on BBC One.
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