Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The money-go-round

The following article, despite originating from an 'antifascist' source, provides an interesting interpretation of the career, such as it is, of Mr Patrick Harrington. While the article may contain certain errors of fact here and there, it seems likely that in its broad outline it presents a reasonably accurate picture. However, the article's re-publication on my blog implies no support for 'antifascism', nor would it be legitimate for anyone to infer such support.

It would seem that Messrs Griffin and Harrington, as well as having a shared history, and interests, have a number of personality traits in common.

March 10, 2011

"The world is divided into those who have never met Patrick Harrington and those who hate his guts"

Posted by Denise to the Lancaster Unity blog

As we noted many months ago, a large number of those characters responsible for the collapse and disappearance of the old National Front two decades ago are now on hand as the same fate befalls the British National Party, notable amongst them being Patrick Harrington - a man for whom the words "failure" and "divisive" might have been invented.

Never knowingly successful at anything to which he has turned his hand, this long time friend of Nick Griffin was until recently consigned to the fringe of the fringe, where he could pretend to be a "director" of a "think tank" while having time enough on his then unemployed hands to get up Wiki pages laudatory of himself and the paper organisations with which he is associated.

The Third Way "think tank", if it has any real existence at all, claimed (the last time we could be bothered to look) just 18 members, a figure open to considerable doubt, but while Harrington indulged his fantasies and passed his time planting his grandiloquent political biography on any webpage that would take it, nobody paid him a great deal of attention.

The Third Way is also known as the National Liberal Party, its election successes totalling zero. Despite promising to contest ten marginal Liberal Democrat seats at the 2010 General Election, it contested only one seat, Eastleigh, coming bottom of the poll with just 93 votes.

Harrington crept back on to the radar with his involvement in the Solidarity "trade union", a BNP front which quickly descended into factionalism and farce when its two founders accused Harrington of financial impropriety. Factionalism and farce have long been close associates of Patrick Harrington, and the first accusations of financial wrong-doing set against him date back to the mid-80s and his involvement in the White Noise Club.

A "Blood and Honour" biography of the infamous Nazi band Skrewdriver and lead singer Ian Stuart Donaldson makes these comments (my spacing, otherwise "as is"):

Ian's distrust of Patrick Harrington and Derek Holland would inevitably mean that he would have to leave the NF and White Noise. Simultaneously the NF leadership, in an attempt to gain more political respectability with the British public tried to water down Skrewdriver's National Socialist image by censoring lan's lyrics and telling him what to sing about.

The White Noise management of Patrick Harrington, Nick Griffin and Derek Holland dictated that there was to be no hail victory’s and no derogatory references to blacks.

Soon after this the NF split itself into two. After which it gradually emerged that the White Noise Club had not been paying royalties due to the bands, had been ripping off band supporters ordering records through their mail order service and that Rock-o-Rama in Germany was owed around £3,000 for merchandise obtained via the WNC. Quite rightly Herbert chairman of Rock-o-Rama records, refused to release any new material by the WNC bands or supply any further records to the NF until the debt was paid in full.

By the summer totally disgusted with the way Harrington, Griffin and Holland had gone about things with their gross dishonesty, Ian once again handed in his letter of resignation to White Noise magazine and the National Front, with most of the other White rock bands following him.

As one of those involved in the Solidarity imbroglio wrote to me at the time: "The world is divided into those who have never met Patrick Harrington and those who hate his guts."

That would appear to remain the case.

Griffin and Harrington recaptured Solidarity by the simple tactic of hijacking its website, its only real public outlet (which happened to be hosted by failed South African school-bomber and BNP member Lambertus Nieuwhof), then calling an EGM which carved up Solidarity as Griffin and Harrington wanted and cleverly installing then darling of the BNP Simone Clarke (the "BNP ballerina") on the executive.

We were not alone at the time in alleging that Solidarity had only two real purposes - to provide Patrick Harrington with an income and, via a political fund, to transfer money from Solidarity to the BNP and Third Way coffers. Aside from one or two questionable non-BNP characters initially used to plug the "union", the organisation was to be entirely parasitical upon the BNP membership, who would be persuaded to part with £5 per month to join what to them might seem a worthwhile venture.

Despite an intense and long running recruitment campaign, this never happened. BNP members were very wary of Solidarity. The early public in-fighting could not have helped, and anti-fascist revelations concerning the "union" and its leading personalities certainly played their part, but there was also a swathe of older BNP members well acquainted with Harrington's past record who would have nothing to do with the "union".

Solidarity claims to have had 124 members in 2007, 276 in 2008, and 400 in 2009 (the last year for which figures are available), far lower than anything Harrington could have expected, despite the internal exposure Solidarity was given by the BNP. Given the election fever, fuelled by unrealistic expectations that began to grip the BNP in the early part of 2010, and a stepping up of the Solidarity recruitment campaign on the back of it, it's very likely that the "union" had more than 400 members on its books in the first half of the year.

The mystery is, how many were still members by the end of the year, the somewhat vague cut-off point defined by the Trade Union Certification Officer?

Being parasitical to the BNP, Solidarity must have suffered as its host began to implode last May, and any hopes that there would ever be "one big" nationalist trade union dashed, along with any hopes that it would ever provide a living for anybody. Some unkind observers have suggested that one reason Harrington asked Nick Griffin for a job with the BNP last summer was because as the BNP truncated so, he knew, must his "union"; those same unkind observers have also suggested that the government's determination to re-assess those claiming various types of long-term sickness benefits might have had something to do with it.

Solidarity's 2009 accounts show a donation of £5000, an interesting affair in itself. LU readers will recall a newspaper sting whereby a £5000 "political donation" to the BNP wound up in Nick Griffin's personal bank account, where it had no business to be.

According to a deeply sceptical Times:

Mr Griffin admitted that he had paid the £5,000 donation that appeared to be from a political supporter into his own bank account and then transferred the money to a sympathetic political organisation without alerting the authorities.

He said that he did so because the donor, an elderly North London woman who is a member of the BNP, wished to remain anonymous. He said that he gave the money in February to the nationalist trade union Solidarity, which has strong BNP links, because he believed that it would have had to be declared if he had given the donation to the party. He said that there was “no need” to declare it as the donor had asked him to put the money to “best use”.

"Best use" is a fairly elastic term, but the BNP and Solidarity leaders have always tended to stretch and warp the English language into something more agreeable and self-serving to themselves. The money - reluctantly, we are sure - was handed over to Solidarity, which, for 2009 posts an annual return giving an income of £23,052 against an expenditure of £27,997, leaving a balance of £1,202.

The opening balance for that year had been £6,147.

What is curious is that Harrington and Solidarity president Adam Walker chose this year to pay themselves each £2,521, or £5,042, something they could not have done had Griffin not made over that £5,000 donation. A cynic might suggest that there exists a mental block in the minds of far-right leaders, in that money that could be put to good political or (in the case of Solidarity) quasi-trade union use must always find its way into a private bank account and never be seen again.

Despite claims - and that is all they are - by Harrington that he has travelled the country representing Solidarity members in grievance and other disputes, most of the "union's" work seems to have revolved around cases involving the Solidarity president and younger brother Mark Walker, who sits on the executive committee. And very expensive it has been, with "benefits to members" listed at £10,694 and "administrative expenses" at £17,303 - or £27,997 for not very much at all.

At a recent telephone-box gathering in Carlisle that passed for Solidarity's annual conference, Harrington glibly claimed that "many successes" could not be publicised "owing to confidentiality clauses" - an extraordinary claim. A quick email exchange with Unite's local (Norwich) industrial organiser elicits the response that no legitimate trade union representative would agree to a "confidentiality clause" unless under the most extraordinary of circumstances, and then only if it served the interests of the member involved or the union concerned - and even then the matter would be "referred up" for legal advice.

It is strange that such clauses appear to be routine affairs when Solidarity is the "union" involved. Is this, as others have noted, because the BNP is one of the few organisations which routinely demands dismissed employees sign confidentiality agreements? Are Harrington's "many successes" not quite what he would like us to believe they are, if indeed there have been any at all?

As a means of making money Solidarity has already seen its most lucrative days. The National Liberal Party/Third Way never did.

Seized with a mad idea that it could put £100,000 in its kitty, in June 2008 Harrington and his friends launched a "money bomb" appeal, hoping to con 10,000 people to donate £10 each "for liberty" - or, as we asserted, to provide the perennial losers of the NLP/TW with an effort-free living. The appeal had its own badly laid out website replete with a graph on which donations were to be tracked. Unfortunately the graph stubbornly registered zero, as it had for the best part of a fortnight, until the day we published our article, when a small squiggle appeared.

Our article said:

As he has throughout his indistinguished career on the far-Right, Mr Harrington has undoubtedly concocted for himself yet another stratagem by which he will be seen to fail, and fail badly, largely because the man seems to be incapable of connecting with the real world - the one in which most people would not expect 10,000 people to visit a crude website rushed up by an unknown and bogus think-tank-cum-political party, all of them to do it on a single day and to pledge £10 in return for some vague and meaningless statement about "liberty".

We're fairly sure the only reason the tiny squiggle failed to expand to point at a respectable figure was because Harrington and company knew very well they would have to square their claims with the accounts they must later submit to the Electoral Commission. The "money bomb" was a matter of ridicule, and of course utterly failed - but free money is free money, no matter how little, and the NLP/TW repeated the exercise in 2009 and 2010, with even less success. Its 2009 accounts list donations from all sources as a paltry £413.07 (we are naturally assuming that NLP/TW is being completely truthful about its financial affairs, just as Solidarity and the BNP always are).

From the start of what we might laughingly call his political career Harrington has regularly displayed his only known talent, being that of effortlessly making enemies. He does not seem to be able to help himself. He is variously accounted untrustworthy, conceited, a fraud and a fantasist (that last was us), while those of his closer acquaintance have, in various internet posting places, noted his "limp, damp handshake", and in one case a number of meetings with Harrington "at the termination of each of which it was necessary to find a bath or a shower and to apply a strong carbolic soap to my crawling skin".

Not exactly Mr Popular, is he?

Griffin's inclusion of Harrington and his strange new wife on the paid BNP Euro staff would ordinarily be inexplicable, given the widespread dislike of him, a fact that was always bound to exacerbate existing divisions. Prior to that, rebel leader Eddy Butler asserts that Harrington (a man with not a shred of electoral talent) interfered to negative effect in the BNP's flagship Barking and Dagenham general election campaign, and had regularly intruded into BNP affairs.

As Butler's leadership challenge gathered momentum, Harrington began sending messages over the internet to BNP supporters urging them to oppose the challenge and, despicably and unethically (but what's new?), abused his allegedly independent position as Solidarity's general secretary to issue a "personal statement" to the same effect. According to Butler he manipulated London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook into mounting a "spoiler" challenge designed to scotch Butler's chances of gathering the required number of nominations, and (according to us) having achieved this threw the luckless and by now unwanted Barnbrook into the custody of the Walker brothers, who smiled tolerantly and took him to the pub.

Harrington apparently advised Nick Griffin at Michaela Mackenzie's employment tribunal. We noted:

Mr Harrington appears to have been on hand at the employment tribunal hearing the unfair dismissal case brought against Nick Griffin by Michaela Mackenzie, providing us with that rarest of spectacles, an employment tribunal at which a "trade union" general secretary is not on the team of a badly wronged employee, but that of the boss who wronged her. According to Mackenzie, Nick Griffin took the stand and began "venomously spouting the most ridiculous lies about me". We do not know if he did so consequent upon any advice Mr Harrington might have proffered.

Mackenzie won her case, of course.

In the same article we added:

A further spectacle is provided by the employment of Mr Harrington and Solidarity president Adam Walker to oversee Human Resources and Staff Management in regard to BNP employees, who are all members of Solidarity - putting BNP employees in the unique position of having as bosses their own "trade union" leaders.

Of this situation Nick Griffin wrote: "We, however, have learned from this [the Mackenzie] case, which is one reason we have now created a dedicated Human Resources/Staff Management team to ensure that from now on everything is done by the book by people who know all the ropes."

By which he means disgruntled BNP employees will find themselves up Harrington Creek without a paddle.

In his thoroughly dishonest campaign against Eddy Butler, Harrington made much of Butler's intention to close the BNP's Belfast office and transfer operations to the mainland, saying: "I think Solidarity members should be aware of his anti-union stance and threats to sack people." Sacking people is exactly what happened, but it wasn't Butler who did the sacking...

At about the same time he was taken on by the BNP, the "trade union" leader incorporated a company, grandly (what else?) titled Europa Social Political and Economic Research Establishment Limited (presumably ESPEREL), which, as ever with Harrington, skulks behind his regular maildrop address, Room 407, 12 South Bridge, Edinburgh.

Harrington's new venture appears to be some sort of consultancy, but we admit to having little knowledge of it. Of course, if you happen to know more...

Harrington's influence has clearly been detrimental to whatever remains of the BNP and in turn to whatever remains of Solidarity. The characters - so strangely familiar from those long ago days of the National Front's implosion - who are involved in the BNP's rapid downward spiral can see as well as anybody else what is happening and why, and since they are, as we and they know, on the make, it is very difficult to believe that they have not developed some game plan designed to protect their new-found comforts.

As I write, Nick Griffin has ordered yet another round of suspensions, this time in London and the South. He seems utterly indifferent to the effects this must have - just as he appeared indifferent to the effects of previous purges, his continual lying to the membership, his appointment of Ian Kitchen as Yorkshire regional organiser, and so much else. It's almost as if he wants the BNP to fail, and as quickly as possible, while himself remaining leader of whatever is left.

At the same time, Harrington seems less and less interested in Solidarity, which he knows has little future, while, out of the blue, the Civil Liberty front group has sprung into renewed life, carrying contentious articles on its website that seem almost calculated to offend as many BNP members as possible.

Does that give us a clue as to what might be going on?

Is it possible that Griffin, who can never cede the leadership of the BNP when it also means ceding access to the party's financial affairs during the term of his office, is deliberately running the BNP down as a political party? Could it be that in a few months, assuming anything at all remains solvent, that there will be some merger between these three organisations, and a new nationalist civil rights organisation arise - one into which Griffin can safely take the precious BNP accounts and all their secrets?

I don't know, but nor do I believe that the National Front's two main undertakers intend to repeat their old exercise without on this occasion making some provision to shield themselves financially - something they forgot to do last time around.

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