On Sunday I published the official press release covering Steve Uncles 'resignation', the version of events that Robin Tilbrook would have us believe. An alternative view - the one that I believe - is the original press release written by Derek Hilling, Party Secretary, upon which Tilbrook based his delusive story.
From: "Derek Hilling"
What do think of this as the press release?
On 12th February 2011 the National Council of the English Democrats unanimously voted to remove Steve Uncles (ex- South East Area Chairman) from all his official positions within the party, although he remains a party member. We have taken this action in order to ‘draw a line’ under recent events connecting our party with both Sinn Fein and some ex-BNP leaders, because Steve Uncles was both the initiator and the primary driver behind these approaches. His actions were kept from the majority of the National Council until the public revelations of an ex-party member revealed some of these matters in November 2010.
Steve Uncles took it upon himself to contact and indeed ask for support from Sinn Fein in 2009. The National Council of the English Democrats condemn this approach by Steve Uncles as an opportunistic attempt to associate us with the IRA, with whom we wish to have no association. The English Democrats are struggling to ensure that the people of England are treated fairly within the United Kingdom and we have no interest in interfering in the politics of Northern Ireland. We believe in a government for England but we also believe that it is the sole preserve of the people of Northern Ireland to determine their political arrangements, and it is not for others to interfere.
In 2010 Steve Uncles took it upon himself to contact both Eddie Butler and Richard Barnbrook who at the time were both leading members of the British National Party, although they had fallen out with Nick Griffin. Mr Uncles believed that these people would be useful converts to the English Democrats. We wish to state categorically that at no time have we attempted to initiate any political arrangements with the British National Party as we consider their political beliefs to be an anathema to the vast majority of the people of England. The English Democrats remain, as we always have been, committed to advancing the political, social and economic interests of all the people of England regardless of their race, ethnicity or heritage.
Steve Uncles, by his actions, called into questioned this commitment and that is the reason he no longer speaks for our party.
Note how Hilling tells us that the NC unanimously voted to remove Steve Uncles from all his official positions within the party, while Tilbrook's tale sets Uncles up as some sort of martyr by informing us that he resigned; note too how Hilling tells us that Uncles took it upon himself to contact Sinn Fein, Eddie Butler and Richard Barnbrook, while Tilbrook tells us that no contact was made with Sinn Fein or discussions entered into with the British National Party.
Prevarication from Tilbrook.
Uncles sent an email to Sinn Fein, whether they received it or responded is by-the-by. And whilst Tilbrook may be technically correct to say that "at no time have we (or Steve) had any discussions with a view to any political arrangements whatsoever with the British National Party", it's just a way of evading the truth pertaining to Uncles' dealings with Eddie Butler and Richard Barnbrook.
All this happened on Tilbrook's watch.
You can rewrite press releases Mr Chairman, but you cannot rewrite history.
The crisis engulfing the British National Party opens opportunities for other right-of-centre parties and might perhaps lead to the formation of a new party altogether. Beginning a series of articles on right-wing alternatives to the BNP, Searchlight takes a look at the English Democrats Party.
Robin Tilbrook senses that this might at last be his moment. After several years struggling to get his party, which he has personally bankrolled, noticed he believes that the time for the English Democrats Party (EDP) has arrived.
The EDP was formed in 2002 to call for the establishment of an English Parliament. It positions itself on the right but denies it is racist, though this claim is undermined by the involvement of many leading activists from the English Defence League.
It has contested European, parliamentary and local elections but with very little success. Its one moment of glory was when Peter Davies, son of Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, was elected Mayor of Doncaster in 2009.
With some high profile supporters, such as the columnist and TV critic Garry Bushell, the EDP thought the Doncaster result would herald a new chapter for the party. This failed to materialise and it continued its poor run of election results.
In the 2010 general election the EDP fielded 107 candidates, enabling it to qualify for a party election broadcast, but only saved its deposit in Doncaster North, the seat of the Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Last month the party stood in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election but despite running a vigorous and expensive campaign it received only 144 votes, one less than the Monster Raving Loony Party. By contrast the BNP received 1,560 votes.
And this is the heart of the EDP’s problem. Whatever its internal and political deficiencies the presence and profile of the BNP has restricted opportunities for the EDP. Tilbrook has long understood that his party would be able to prosper only if the BNP collapsed.
In the run-up to 2009 European election the EDP formed an alliance with the England First Party in the North West region. The EFP, led by Mark Cotterill, is a minuscule hard-right group based in East Lancashire. Its politics are quite different from the EDP, but they share a belief in an English Parliament and a hatred of the BNP.
White van man From flickr LoopZillaWhite van man From flickr LoopZilla
The two parties worked together, the EFP providing organisational and logistical support for the EDP. It was unclear whether the EDP would have been able to stand without it.
The driving force behind this link-up was Steve Uncles, the EDP’s national membership secretary, and Michael Cassidy, its Yorkshire chairman. Both are on the right of the party and appeared to favour a deeper link with the far right. Tilbrook agreed with the plan but he was driven more by short-term advantage, namely trying to stop Nick Griffin being elected as an MEP, which he believed would massively boost the BNP and end EDP hopes of becoming a major political party.
The plan only narrowly failed, but although Griffin was elected the BNP has not made the expected wider breakthrough and with its current internal problems and financial crisis the EDP senses another opportunity.
Tilbrook appears to have been keen to bring disillusioned BNP members into the EDP. However when former BNP members in Merseyside, Cumbria and Yorkshire began joining the English Democrats, it caused some rumblings of discontent.
It was the courting of Richard Barnbrook that caused most anger. Last November Barnbrook, who resigned from the BNP in August, approached the English Democrats. He knew that to retain his seat on the London Assembly, where he sits as an independent, he needed the financial and organisational support of a political party. Cliff Dixon, the party’s vice chair in London, voiced his concern but was told by Tilbrook to keep an open mind and that the final decision would be taken by the London Committee, chaired by Roger Cooper.
Uncles had other ideas and was keen to push Barnbrook’s application through as fast as possible.
Separately, Tilbrook had been in discussions with Eddy Butler, the former BNP national organiser who was expelled from the party after challenging Griffin for the leadership. However the two had different agendas. Tilbrook was looking to build the EDP while Butler was not convinced that the EDP, particularly in its current form, was the right party for him. Conscious that he had to keep the racial nationalists on board, Butler was unhappy with the EDP’s moderate nationalist programme. Rather, he preferred the idea of uniting the broad nationalist movement, from the racial nationalists to the right-wing populists, around a few shared themes while a longer discussion took place about what kind of party was needed.
Some have argued that Butler was biding time for Andrew Brons to make his move. While the Yorkshire MEP has stayed loyal to the BNP he is increasingly acting independently and separately from Griffin. Butler, though no longer in the BNP, works for Brons.
Dixon became increasingly concerned about the actions of Tilbrook and Uncles. Eventually he decided to speak out after the party hired Jim Dowson to run its fundraising. Not only did the EDP’s appeal letters look remarkably similar to those Dowson wrote for the BNP during the three years he worked for the party, but Dixon believed that Butler now had the EDP’s entire membership list.
After Barnbrook was accepted into the EDP at its January national council meeting, Dixon broke ranks and went public with his outrage.
He was quickly followed by Ed Abrams, a member of the EDP’s national council, who had already resigned from the party in disgust at the courting of BNP members.
“It does not please me one little bit to see the current turmoil that the party that I still consider to be my political home is in but if it is to survive then Tilbrook and Uncles have to go,” Abrams declared.
“I therefore call upon the loyal members of the English Democrats Party to call for a EGM and propose a vote of no confidence in Tilbrook and Uncles.
“Please remember that ENGLAND comes before everything, Uncles and Tilbrook have had there [sic] day, the cause and the good name of your party comes first and only by passing a vote of no confidence in these two will you be able to wipe the slate clean and move forward.”
Also supporting this position was Alistair Barbour, the BNP’s former Carlisle organiser who switched his allegiance to the EDP in protest at the extremism of the BNP. He too resigned from the EDP after other BNP members began to join though claims still to be loyal to the party’s overall aims.
“Do yourselves a favour, stay a progressive moderate party and do not allow the likes of Butler Barnbrook etc to take you to the right,” he wrote. “Tell them to crawl back to Griffin were [sic] they belong and take Uncles with them.
“Don’t let another so called nationalist party destroy England’s chances of recognition and salvation.”
The EDP is in a state of flux. The crisis in the BNP, which appeared to present an opportunity to the EDP to emerge out of the political margins, now seems to be spreading to the EDP. Whether the party can emerge stronger will be determined partly by what happens to the BNP but also by its own members’ reactions to the arrival of former BNP members in their ranks.
There now follows a party political damage limitation exercise on behalf of the English Democrats.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT: English Democrats & Richard Barnbrook
There have been inaccurate rumours circulating, on a number of political blogs, that Mr. Richard Barnbrook, an independent member of the Greater London Assembly, is now representing the English Democrats. This is incorrect.
Mr. Barnbrook was in the British National Party (BNP) and he has applied to join the English Democrats. To this end, Mr. Barnbrook recently attended a National Council meeting. He was asked searching questions about his involvement with the BNP, his commitment to England and specifically about his attitude to race.
As we are well aware that the BNP is breaking up, the National Council was determined to clarify whether Mr Barnbrook could commit himself fully to the English Democrats' stance of not discriminating on the grounds of race or ethnicity. Mr Barnbrook assured us both that he could and also that he is no racist and is a patriotic Englishman.
The National Council agreed that the London Area Council of the English Democrats could have further discussions with Mr Barnbrook to decide on what further steps to take, if any. No inducements or promises have been made to Mr. Barnbrook to join our party.
The National Council are naturally very conscious of Mr Barnbrook's previous position of prominence within the BNP and therefore of the sensitivity of this issue but we do take the view that every application to join should be treated properly, fairly and in a common sense way on the merits of the individual applicant.
Finally we would confirm that the English Democrats are absolutely determined to ensure that our commitment to a better democrasy for all the people of England is maintained, come what may.
The English Democrats
Oh dear - This post has all the fingerprints of a certain Mr S Uncles all over it.
"Following the invitation by Derek Hilling the national party secretary of The English Democrats to Richard Barnbrook" - What invitation? Derek and the rest of the NC were unaware that Barnbrook would be addressing the meeting on Saturday. I have a copy of the agenda sat in front of me now, and of the 17 points on it, not one regards a certain Richard Barnbrook addressing the NC of The English Democrats. A vote of no confidence in Uncles was proposed at the meeting, and deemed not admissable as it was not on the agenda - Barnbrook was only allowed to address the NC because it was pointed out that Item 12 (Membership applications from ex BNP members - CV?/RC?) could be used to justify it, and as he doesn't drive and had to be ferried up by another NC member, he shouldn't be left to sit in the foyer on his own (A joke was cracked that we could have a whip round for his train back if necessary)
If I attended as a guest of Roger Cooper, why was item 4 on the agenda titled "Allegations of improper conduct against Steve Uncles - CD & SU" ? Would a guest be on the agenda? Indeed, why have I been at every NC meeting in my capacity as Roger Cooper's deputy for the last 6 months, and have held his proxy vote on the previous 4?
Nigel Farage casts his net over dissaffected English Democrats supporters:
"Some weeks ago I received a message from the South East Chairman of the English Democrats, Steven Uncles. He requested a meeting with me to discuss electoral cooperation.
"At the time I was dubious and delayed answering. However, with their acceptance of Richard Barnbrook, originally elected to the GLA for the BNP, I am adamant that at no point now or in the future must the UK Independence Party be linked with the English Democrats.
"With this move, the English Democrats have put themselves beyond the pale. As a non-racist, non-sectarian party UKIP, at all levels, must have nothing to do with them.
"We urge all English Democrats who feel as we do about this to join UKIP now."
The ranting Alan England retaliates on the English Democrats' little known blog:
What is so absurd about Nigel's outburst is that it continues a long established line of UKIP hypocrisy. SEE: The hypocritical party It seems that Mr Farage would have us believe that UKIP does not actually recruit BNP members.
WE URGE ALL THOSE IN UKIP WHO WANT A REFERENDUM FOR PROPER PARLIAMENT FOR ENGLAND IN ADDITION TO A REFERENDUM ABOUT CONTINUED EU MEMBERSHIP TO JOIN THE ENGLISH DEMOCRATS ~ NOW!
And Nick Griffin casts doubt on Richard Barnbrook's suitability as a BNP candidate and alludes to an addiction to alcohol:
I have no idea whether you really intend to join the EDP, with its boasts of Muslim candidates and totally undemocratic structure. I would have thought that the fact that they were only able to gain one tenth of our vote in Oldham last week, failing even to beat the Monster Raving Looney Party, would have made even you recognise that there is no possibility of their serving as a vehicle for your ambitions and needs.
In truth, however, that is irrelevant. What matters is that you think that it is acceptable to use the threat to join them to try to blackmail the British National Party into giving you what you want.
It is not acceptable. Your letter confirms your utter selfishness and total unsuitability as a candidate on the British National Party GLA list next year. Over the last few months we have made enormous strides in London . We are building a dynamic team and developing campaigning techniques that, taken together with the likely collapse in the Tory and LibDem votes, give us a very good chance indeed of winning at least one seat.
The only thing that could make me reconsider would be if, rather than going off to another party, you went to seek the medical and support help for your alcohol problem which I have repeatedly counseled and even arranged for you, went through with it and came back to us with medical proof that you had actually accepted, confronted and conquered the disease which has stolen your dignity and decency.
Your promises and pleadings are worthless, for we have heard them all before, including when you were selected to lead our list in the first place subject to your firm undertaking to stay off alcohol and our mistaken belief that you had overcome the problem. Only real action by you to secure a sustained change can now save you from self-destruction and lead me and the British National Party to reconsider the position.
What a particularly unpleasant soap opera this is, and one from which only Cliff Dixon can emerge a winner.
See also: BNP Barnbrook joins English Democrats
The English Democrats have released a statement concerning recent speculation about their involvement with the BNP.
Following an invitation by Derek Hilling the National Party Secretary of the English Democrats, Richard Barnbrook - London Assembly Member, attended the English Democrats National Council meeting on Saturday 15 January 2011 in Coventry to explain why, he would like to join the English Democrats party.
Following discussion, and debate, the English Democrats National Council voted to allow Richard Barnbrook to join the English Democrats party in the Capacity as London Assembly Member, subject to further discussions/agreement with the English Democrats London Area Council.
Robin Tilbrook (National Party Chairman)
Steven Uncles (National Communications Director)
announced their intention to abstain from the vote, for reasons given at the time to the National Council Meeting, before the vote took place.
And presumably also subject to Barnbrook changing the banner on his blog.