Photography: Andrew Firth
Can you talk about the values your upbringing instilled into you, and especially the values you still retain?
I grew up in a traditional middle-class nuclear family in London. The school I went to was a minor boys’ public school before the days of political correctness: it was all honesty and self-reliance – typical public school in the days before Monty Python and so on satirised it out of existence. People knew how you were supposed to behave.
Was there a political element in your upbringing?
Yes, very much so. There was always a great deal of political discussion when I was young – my parents had met at a Communist Party meeting where two different groups of Young Conservatives had gone to heckle. I can remember the 1966 general election and my mother waking me up the next day and saying, ‘It was a terrible night – we lost everything’ – so even at seven I knew that the family were intensely political and [I] was interested as well.
Was religion a part of your upbringing?
Not really, no. Did we ever go to church together? I think we went to one or two Christmas services. My parents regarded themselves as C of E but it was for hatchings, matchings and despatchings – that was pretty much the level of it.
On the BNP website,1www.bnp.org.uk a testimonial from one woman says she supports the party because it stands for ‘Christian values’. What did she mean by that?
Obviously you’d have to ask her, but I would hazard a guess that we’re talking about the idea that a family should be based on a man and a woman who preferably are married (because it’s a more stable environment for children), and not necessarily wanting to persecute homosexuals but regarding them as something that isn’t normal or acceptable – you know, the Bible was quite clear about that.
I don’t really fancy the idea of 300 years of massacre and hatred between more recent immigrants and the indigenous majority before it settles down. It seems a very high price to pay
What else? Just basic things like telling the truth. Anyone who looks at political life in this country sees a sea of sleaze and lies and distortion. Whereas we are notorious for telling the blunt truth.
There used to be a South African Communist Party slogan ‘Workers of the world unite for –
– a white South Africa!’ Indeed, yes.
What was your attitude to apartheid? As a nationalist, did you see South Africa as the property of the indigenous majority, which was the black people?
Well, we’re not white supremacists, we’re basically white separatists. The whites had a right to a chunk of that country because they were there first – they got to South Africa before the Bantu – but they had no right to expect black people to empty their dustbins while keeping them down and not giving them a vote. It was unnatural, it was unworkable and it was immoral. They should have emptied their own dustbins and said, ‘We’re going to have this piece of land and you have that piece.’
So, you would have had no sympathy with the white supremacism of the Afrikaners –
None whatsoever. Revolting.
– but you’d have had a more nuanced…
Basically we’d say, ‘We live here, you live there and there’s a wall between the two.’ I don’t think that’s nuanced at all: it’s fairly blunt.
Is it inconceivable that two cultures can coexist?
Well, it’s conceivable, but most of the examples tend to suggest that it’s not a good idea. From Northern Ireland to Bosnia to Rwanda, sooner or later the majority of multiracial, multicultural societies fall apart in bloodshed. There may be a few, like Singapore, where with an extremely authoritarian state it works for a while, but the lesson of history is that it tends not to.
Hasn’t Britain been for millennia a place where different cultures have successfully coexisted?
Well, the current DNA evidence is that overwhelmingly on the maternal side everyone whose ancestors were born here before 1948 comes from the same people who’ve been here for about 10,000 years. The Celts and the Saxons were a small overclass of male raiders who came and established themselves (because they’d got better weaponry) and changed the culture. Anyway, the Celts and the Saxons were effectively the same people: they’re very, very closely related and even the cultures were quite similar.
Even then, between the Vikings and the Saxons, say, there were about three hundred years of massacre, mayhem and hatred before it finally settled down. I don’t really fancy the idea of three hundred years of massacre and hatred between more recent immigrants and the indigenous majority before it settles down. It seems a very high price to pay when we could just have said, ‘Look, this is our country. We’ll trade with you, we’ll take some ideas from you but don’t come here in large numbers.’
Couldn’t one say that it was that clash, and then fusion, of cultures over many centuries that created among other things the English language?
Cultures and nations have a right to say, ‘We have a right to exist and if we have to infringe the liberties of individuals in order to preserve that right, we will do so, in the gentlest, kindest possible way’
Yes, yes – but the English language and our culture are now ours, and it’s natural for large numbers of people to feel comfortable with their own culture and language and not want them changed. That is not a matter of racism, it’s a matter of human nature. Why should we accept a drastic change – especially when in many parts of the world where drastic changes like this have been forced on populations it has ended in bloodshed? What is the purpose of it?
As an Englishman living in mid Wales, how would you respond to the militant Welsh nationalist who says, ‘We don’t want the English living here. They’re diluting our culture, undermining our language and taking affordable housing away from our young people’?
I’d say, ‘I absolutely understand you.’ I believe that cultures and nations have a right to say, ‘We have a right to exist and if we have to infringe the liberties of individuals in order to preserve that right, then we will do so, in the gentlest, kindest possible way.’ Welsh Wales is a very fragile culture and therefore I believe it has a right to keep out immigrants of any kind – including the English – if they’re going to be part of the problem and are not going to contribute in some way to the local community.
I’m not part of the problem, I’m part of the solution, because I’ve got four Welsh-speaking kids.
So, immigrants are welcome as long as they are willing to assimilate and contribute to the community?
It’s a question of numbers and balance. In Wales, it is a good thing if some English-speakers come in and learn Welsh and assimilate, because there’s a problem of depopulation and there is space. At the same time, the nearer you are to Welshness, the easier it is to assimilate, so the more you can have. A family who’ve got some identification already with Wales, who have read translations of Welsh literature and so on, is more assimilable than a family who know nothing about it or don’t give a damn.
Now, southern England, on the other hand, is absolutely full up. We don’t need anybody else.
What gives a people a right to live in a territory?
In the end, I would have said it’s a matter of common sense. We can’t see it – we’re still too close to it – but it’s only really since the Second World War that modern transportation and, in the West, particularly the welfare state have meant that there is both the possibility of huge movements of population in quite short times and a reason for it. Up until then, it was really quite obvious that it wasn’t a question of by what right you held a piece of land: you were there because you’d been there for hundreds of years and it wasn’t going to change very fast.
By what right do the French hold France? It’s the fact that their great-great-great-great-great-grandparents’ graves are there, they built the cathedrals and the cottages… What right have another people, who have a homeland of their own which is under no threat at all, to come there in such numbers that huge areas of France change beyond all recognition?
Are you thinking of the Brits when you say that?
I was thinking of immigrants from the Maghreb! But there is a lot of anti-British feeling building up in Brittany, and I do have some sympathy for them.
My grandfather’s brother got a spear in the arm at the Battle of Omdurman. Other than that, the Griffins got bugger all out of the Empire – it was a disaster!
You often hear people saying, ‘This country belongs to us because our fathers or grandfathers fought for it in the war’ – but a lot of Indians fought for it, too. Does that give them a stake in it as well?
They were also fighting to keep the Japanese out of India.
Not in North Africa and Italy they weren’t.
It was all part of the same war.
A lot of them joined the army as a career move – the alternative was to stay in a dirt-poor village. They didn’t join up in order to fight to stop Britain being invaded, they joined up in order to travel the world, have some fun and come back with a pension. Young men are the same all over the world.
What about the West Indian volunteers who flew in the Battle of Britain? Do they have some entitlement to a share in what they fought to protect?
Yes, they might. But equally the people of this country have a right to preserve their own culture, their own identity and to rule themselves. And you could have had every single West Indian pilot who fought for this country in the war and his entire extended family and they’d fill two or three streets in Brixton, and that would have been it.
There’s no justification whatever for left-liberals to use these few examples – worthy and decent people and all the rest, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude – to argue that therefore we should open our borders to every person in the damn world who wants to come here because they’d be far better off here than they would be at home, when we’re talking about probably, if they could come, two billion people. It’s a logical fallacy.
We also extracted huge amounts of other resources from the countries that used to constitute the British Empire. Do we not owe them anything in return?
We obviously had some benefits, ‘we’ being Britain as a whole, but mainly a small, elite ruling class. The only thing my family got out of the Empire was, my grandfather’s brother got a spear in the arm at the Battle of Omdurman. Other than that, the Griffins got bugger all out of the Empire – it was a disaster! They’re here because we were there, in some significant measure, and it was no benefit to us.
But what do we owe them? We took raw materials and the rest of it, but you look at every sewer in Karachi, we built it. Every hospital and university – they didn’t have them before. Most of their doctors are people trained by us, or trained by people who were trained by people who were trained by us. We don’t owe them anything.
They don’t owe us anything; we don’t owe them anything. So, quite simply, we should say to the Indians: ‘You wanted your independence. Absolutely right. We shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Now, if you’ll take back – give an independent Khalistan to the Sikhs… And if you won’t, we’re going to scrap our foreign-aid programme to you. (Why should Britain, a country with no space programme, give aid to India, a country which has one? Ridiculous!) And then large numbers of Sikhs, genuine refugees in this country, can go home and be far happier there – and a lot of them would, thereby easing congestion and other problems in this country.
We want to cut the population of this country. It should be about 35 million – it’s ridiculously overcrowded and it’s an appalling place for that reason. It’s going to take 50 years to achieve
We want to cut the population of this country. It isn’t just foreigners. The population of this country should be about 35 million – it’s ridiculously overcrowded and it’s an appalling place for that reason. It’s going to take 50 years to achieve. The fact that the native population of Britain is declining in numbers is not a problem that should be used to justify immigration: it’s a huge potential advantage. This would be a far nicer country if it was less populated.
You say that we owe nobody anything. What about the millions who were displaced by the slave trade?
It doesn’t do black people any good at all to tell their kids, ‘The world owes you a living because your great-great-grandfather was a slave.’ It’s bullshit. There are more white Americans descended from slaves than black Americans. Simple fact. They’ve made something of themselves. They haven’t got a chip on their shoulder.
There were millions of white slaves in the States?
They were called ‘indentured servants’, but they were slaves. What we did for slavery, we stopped it. Slavery was rife in Africa before the British Empire stopped it, and slavery has come back to Africa since we left it. We don’t owe any former slave anything at all. If they want a ticket back to Africa and help to establish themselves, as Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam do, we’d be very happy to oblige. But other than that… We do not subscribe to the white guilt complex.
Why do you think the descendants of black slaves have a persecution complex but the descendants of white indentured servants don’t?
In recent times, because the liberal left, for its own political ends, has sought to make these people feel hard-done-by and resentful. Over the longer term, I don’t really know. But that’s a problem for the Americans. It’s not for us to go interfering in their affairs, any more than it is for them to go interfering in the affairs of the Iraqis. We’d be a far happier world if each nation only bothered about its own problems before it worried about anything else.
One traditional Christian value is ‘Love your neighbour’ – but maybe you would argue that a neighbour is someone who lives in their own house next door…
Absolutely, and they don’t have a right to come into your house and start telling you how to run your own affairs. I think that was taken for granted…
People on the right sometimes talk about ‘putting the “great” back in Britain’. What does that expression mean to you? It’s very emotive in a nebulous way…
It’s a propaganda soundbite, and I don’t know what they mean by it, because we’re not on the right.
OK. What do you think has ever made, or might one day make, Britain great?
Well, what does it mean to be British? The things everyone nowadays thinks of are John Major’s old lady cycling to evensong, warm beer and cricket on the green;2The then Prime Minister had been much mocked for saying, in a speech to the Conservative Group for Europe in 1993: ‘Fifty years on from now, Britain will still be the country of long shadows on county [cricket] grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers, and – as George Orwell said – old maids bicycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist.’ but they’re the shadows of Britishness. If you’d asked people 60 years ago, before the concept of Britishness was deliberately dismantled by a left-liberal elite in a kind of rolling coup d’état, they wouldn’t have answered with any of that claptrap.
Economically, we’re becoming a Third World low-wage slum, and putting the ‘great’ back into Britain is very much a matter of putting that right. It’s not waving a plastic Union Jack
Britishness was centred much more around political, constitutional things. An Englishman’s home (but it applied to the Scots and the Welsh and so on as well) is his castle. That wasn’t a nebulous phrase: it meant the state doesn’t have a right to come and kick your door down. All through Europe, under all sorts of regimes, no one thought it surprising the state could kick your door down; but in Britain if a policeman kicks your door down, he’s in trouble.
Freedom of speech – freedom to say absolutely what you damn well liked other than profanity and blasphemy – that, too, was part of being British. The whole idea of a government that operates under the rule of law, that in the end is answerable to its citizens instead of being all-powerful. The last vestiges of that are at present being removed. In the legal system that operates in this country, you’re innocent until proven guilty, but the corpus juris that is being brought in under the European Union is the Napoleonic attitude that you’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent. These are the things which made people British, and putting the ‘great’ back in Britain means sorting out things like that.
The other thing that has to come into it is that Great Britain became Great Britain really after the Industrial Revolution. This was a country that made things, that was innovative, that had a powerful economy, where people were proud of the contribution their town made, whatever it was famous for. Now, economically, we’re becoming a Third World low-wage slum. And putting the ‘great’ back into Britain is very much a matter of putting that right. It’s not waving a plastic Union Jack.
You talk enthusiastically of freedom of speech, but you haven’t always been so tolerant, have you?
We’re looking at the quotes about controlling the streets and all the rest of it, are we?3He is on record as saying (in the early-to-mid Nineties): ‘When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate’ and ‘It is more important to control the streets of a city than its council chamber.’ You’ve got to put that into context. When I wrote that, the BNP’s press officer had just been tied up in his home and beaten nearly to death. There was a militant far left that was intent on wiping out our right to put our views across politically by physical force. They were different circumstances from what we have now.
Partly that was the fault of the BNP, and of British nationalism going back ages, for having risen to the confrontation and adopted a macho attitude of ‘Well, they’ll try to smash us. We’ll smash them!’ It was the tail-end of the Cold War and on the streets [all across Europe] there was a miniature hot war between the far left and the people who were first on their list.
It would have been better to have tried to sidestep that, which is what we’ve done since. To use an Ulster analogy, it’s an attitude we have decommissioned. It’s not there any more. So, it’s irrelevant.
But if circumstances changed…?
Look, if you’re trying to break my nose with your fist, I’ll break yours by all means. I’m entitled to self-defence. It was only ever self-defence. British nationalism was under attack. I was saying that before we can do anything politically we’ve got to physically maintain our right to exist.
How do you drive a wedge between your party and the sort of people who still believe in violence?
Just by existing and succeeding as we are, we show them that there’s a sensible, political way forward.
Many of the other parties are lifting ideas from us wholesale. The taxpayer has given the Conservative Party £17 million for its research department. Shouldn’t have bothered
But those people really don’t exist. Combat 18, which is the classic example, was set up by the British state, by a police informer, in order (the phrase used in the security services’ training manuals) to pollute the water in which the fish swim. That was a technique developed by the British secret service in Kenya in particular in the Mau Mau insurgency and used elsewhere around the world since. We’re not driving a wedge between that little group and us: it was a state operation from beginning to end. And, what’s more, it no longer exists as a functioning force. The only way it exists is that journalists still talk about it, as a way of trying to smear us.
We’re not responsible for him whatsoever. He was educated according to modern liberal-left standards in a modern school on the edge of south London, according to modern ways. He was driven to distraction by a modern multiracial society, he joined us as a possible way out and, seeing no progress at the time, he left and went mad. He really is not our responsibility. If we were in power, as a murderer he would hang. End of story.
You have fraternised with the president of the Front National, Jean-Marie Le Pen. What are the principal similarities and differences between the nationalists in Britain and France?
The main similarity is that we think that we’ve got enough problems in our own country without meddling in other people’s. A key difference is that, almost without exception, the French regard anyone who will salute the flag and sing the Marseillaise as French, wherever they come from in the world. We don’t see it in the same way. An Indian or West Indian can come and live here, they can contribute to our society, but they do not become English, Scots, Irish or Welsh, any more than Joanna Lumley is a Pakistani because she was born in Pakistan.
So, I would say that we recognise the realities of nature and human nature more than the French do.
But you earlier defined Britishness as an ideological construct built around certain Enlightenment freedoms. Presumably on that basis an Indian or a West Indian could become British.
To a certain level, yes. Yep.
If you never get into power, will you regard your political career as a failure?
No, simply because if you look at what many of the other parties are saying and doing these days, they are lifting policies and ideas from us wholesale, in all sorts of areas. The British taxpayer has given the Conservative Party £17 million since the last election for its research department. Shouldn’t have bothered, because the Tories pinch things off our website – all sorts of policies.
But already, in terms of the key issue – I’ve got particular views on how an economy should be run and so on, but an economy could be changed in that direction 500 years hence, whatever we’ve done in the meantime – but the key issue over the next 40, 50 years is whether Britain and Europe will remain Christian/post-Christian and European or become part of the Third World. And already, because of what the BNP has achieved, the Government in this country has slammed the brakes on mass immigration. They’re ducking and diving, but[, but for us,] we’d have far more in this country already and we’d be further down the road to the point of no return.
If that’s all I achieve, that’ll do me.
This edit was originally published in the July 2004 issue of Third Way.
|⇑2||The then Prime Minister had been much mocked for saying, in a speech to the Conservative Group for Europe in 1993: ‘Fifty years on from now, Britain will still be the country of long shadows on county [cricket] grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers, and – as George Orwell said – old maids bicycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist.’|
|⇑3||He is on record as saying (in the early-to-mid Nineties): ‘When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate’ and ‘It is more important to control the streets of a city than its council chamber.’|
Nick Griffin was born in London in 1959 and educated at Woodbridge School and St Felix School, Southwold. He studied history for two years at Downing College, Cambridge before switching to law for a year, graduating in 1980 with a BA and a boxing blue.
He had been taken to meetings of the National Front at the age of 15 by his father, and by 1978 he was its national youth organiser. In 1980, with Joe Pearce, the editor of Bulldog, he launched Nationalism Today, which argued the case for a ‘third way’ to replace capitalism and communism, which they felt were both under Zionist control.
In 1983, he took part in a coup that ousted Martin Webster, the leader of the National Front; but he left in 1989 after a power struggle inside the party to co-found International Third Position in association with the Italian Fascist Roberto Fiore, who was then on the run in England. He quit the ITP in 1991, a year after losing his left eye in an accident.
Besides two stints working full-time for the National Front, he was also variously employed up to this point in agricultural engineering, property renovation and forestry.
He began writing for the small-circulation quarterly The Rune and by 1995 was also writing for Spearhead, the monthly magazine owned by John Tyndall, then chairman of the British National Party. He became its editor in 1996, and in 1997 joined the party.
In the same year, he published the booklet ‘Who Are the Mind-Benders?’, which claimed that the media were dominated by Jews. He was also the subject of a ‘sting’ by ITV’s The Cook Report. Believing that he was talking to representatives of the Front National, he lamented that ‘Britain does not have the tradition of intellectual Fascism which is such an important factor in many other countries.’
In 1998, he received a nine-month suspended sentence for distributing literature likely to incite racial hatred, after Alex Carlisle MP had notified the police of a 1996 issue of The Rune in which he had written: ‘I am well aware that orthodox opinion is that 6m Jews were gassed and cremated or turned into soap and lampshades … I have reached the conclusion that the “extermination” tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter-day witch hysteria.’
In 1999, he was elected chairman of the BNP.
In 2001, he stood in the general election as the BNP candidate for Oldham West & Royton and won 16% of the vote, narrowly failing to take second place. In 2003, he again stood in Oldham, again unsuccessfully, for a seat on the local council.
He lives with his wife and four children on a smallholding near Welshpool.
Up-to-date as at 1 June 2004