Far From Right?
Nick Griffin has led the British National Party for ten
years, and became an elected MEP earlier this year. Back in
2004 Third Way met him and his bodyguard in a south London
Can you talk about the values that your upbringing
instilled into you, and particularly the values that are still with
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
Was there a political element in your
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 the Young Conservatives had gone to heckle. I
can remember the 1966 general election and my mother waking me up
the next morning and saying, 'It was a terrible night, we lost
everything' - so even at seven I knew that the family were
intensely political and was interested as well.
Was religion an element in your
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 (1) 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.
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. Where-as we are notorious for telling the
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
Is it inconceivable that two cultures can
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 co-existed?
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?
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
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, taking affordable housing away from our young
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
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've 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
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?
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
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
What about the West Indian volunteers who flew in the
Battle of Britain to defend what they regarded as the Motherland?
Do they have some entitlement to a share in what they fought to
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, élite 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
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
Kalistan 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
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 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
There were millions of white slaves in the
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 co do, we'd be happy to oblige.
But other than that… We do not subscribe to the white guilt
Why do you think the descendants of black slaves have a
persecution complex but the descendants of white indentured
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
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; 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 élite
in a rolling coup d'état, they wouldn't have answered with any of
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
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? (2) 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 and 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
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.
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 police training schools) 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
What about David Copeland, who targeted black and
gay people in London with nail-bombs five years
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
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
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
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
If that's all I achieve, that'll do me.
(2) Nick Griffin 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.'
B I O G R A P H Y
Nick Griffin was born in London in 1959 and was educated at St
Felix School, Southwold. He began a history degree at Downing
College, Cambridge and then switched to law, graduating in 1980
with a 2.2 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 organiser. In
1980, with Joe Pearce, the editor of Bulldog, he launched
Nationalism Today, in which they set out the idea that a 'third
way' was needed to replace capitalism and communism, which they
felt were both Zionist-controlled.
In 1983, he staged a coup that dislodged Martin Webster, the
leader of the National Front; but he left in 1989 after a power
struggle inside the party (and an accident with a shotgun which
cost him his left eye). He formed the International Third Position,
a group set up by the Italian Fascist Roberto Fiore, who was on the
run in England from the Italian authorities. In 1991, Nick Griffin
quit after a failed business venture.
In 1995, he joined the British National Party, becoming editor
of the quarterly The Rune and also of Spearhead, a magazine owned
by John Tyndall, the then party leader. Four years later, he
defeated Tyndall in a leadership election.
In 1997, he published the booklet 'Who Are the Mind-Benders?',
which claimed that the media were dominated by Jews. In the same
year he was the subject of a 'sting' by ITV's The Cook Report.
Believing that he was talking to representatives of the Front
National, he complained that 'Britain does not have the tradition
of intellectual Fascism which is such an important factor in many
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 soup and
lampshades … I have reached the conclusion that the "extermination"
tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely
profitable lie, and latter witch-hysteria.'
In 2001, a few days after rioting by Asian youths, he stood in
the general election as BNP candidate for Oldham West & Royton
and won 16 per cent of the vote, narrowly failing to take second
place from the Conservatives. Two years later, he stood again
in Oldham for a seat on the local council, but was not elected.
He lives with his wife and four children on a smallholding near
Welshpool, where he raises pigs and chickens.
This interview was conducted outside a pub in south-east
London on May 24, 2004.