5 April 2009

Former BNP member warns party is focusing on Wales

A former British National Party insider who is now a campaigner with anti-fascist group Searchlight has warned that the party is intent on making Wales one of its strongest areas.

Matthew Collins, who was in Cardiff to address a fringe meeting at the Plaid Cymru conference, said leading figures in the party were convinced the would drive disenchanted working class communities into the BNP’s arms.

The far-right party has recently increased its activity in several parts of Wales, notably in Carmarthenshire, where it now has a community councillor.

Mr Collins, 37, became involved with the BNP in South London when he was 15. He was quickly promoted within the inner circle of activists and became privy to many of the party’s secrets. After a violent attack by BNP sympathisers on a group of protesters, Mr Collins became disillusioned and decided to contact Searchlight. For three years he passed information to Searchlight, including details of planned activities by BNP members and the breakaway group Combat 18, whose founder and former leader Charlie Sargent is serving a life sentence for murder. Two TV exposes were made based on his disclosures.

When he came under suspicion, Mr Collins fled to Australia for 10 years. He kept up his campaigning, exposing financial irregularities that led to far-right politician Pauline Hanson being jailed. He returned to Britain in 2003.

Yesterday he said: “The BNP has a great interest in Wales. Nick Griffin, the leader, and Simon Darby [leading member and spokesman] live here. It’s something to do with the Welsh history of dissent, which they think they can tap into, and the fact there are a lot of poor working class communities where they hope to increase support in the recession.

“I get the feeling people in Wales are a bit complacent about the BNP. While I don’t think they have a chance of winning a seat in Wales at the European Parliament election in June or at the general election, they will definitely challenge for a regional seat at the next Assembly election.”

Wales Online

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