The Socialist Unity Network

BNP infiltrate Socialist Workers Party

John Nicholson

Two young students attending University in Manchester for the last year, one from Sunderland the other from South Shields, have recently been exposed as BNP "spies". In their time in Manchester these two have successfully "infiltrated" a series of campaigns, from the Manchester Social Forum to the Stop the War Coalition, Respect and the Socialist Workers Party. They have reported back to the BNP throughout the course of their activities and now have been outed, on various websites of opposing political persuasion and in the Morning Star.


Strangely enough, these two "appeared" at the very first meeting I went to on my return from Namibia - a "social forum" event, organised by the independent Manchester Social forum activists, and attended by some SWP. I was in a small workshop with (very) elderly anti-fascists (Oldham crowd, plus Colin Barker from Manchester, and this duo came in saying they had "just picked up a leaflet about it in Piccadilly Gardens")They looked pretty un-knowing but like caricatures of the left from several years ago. it was a bit like the way the special branch used to infiltrate the hippy crowds of the 60s and 70s, by appearing more long-haired, dirty, laid-back, stoned, than anyone else. so you could always tell who they were. And these two were just that - looked a bit like swampy-style tree-dwellers and talked naively.


Then suddenly they were in the SWP, and they appeared everywhere. I cannot (even with my wildest paranoiac tendencies!) claim to have "spotted" them for what they were.  But I was worried, and mentioned to others, that this dopy duo seemed to be the only new recruits on the SWP scene.


The line taken by the SWP leadership now is that this is nothing much to write home about. If this is the best that the BNP could do - a couple of naive youngsters attending a number of open campaign meetings and organising against the war and against the fascists in the North West - then it shows how little the BNP is really capable of. Certainly the North West - the target Euro seat for fascist leader Griffin - failed to deliver. And if the BNP was relying on receiving the internal secrets of its electoral opponents, notably Respect, it didn't gain much from this campaign of deception. The fact that one of the spies became Treasurer of a Manchester branch within Respect's North West Executive structure and failed to open a bank account is little more than par for the course, given Respect's organisational limitations.


BNP infiltrators pictured variously with BNP leader Nick Griffin, leading anti-fascist Weyman Bennett, RESPECT MP George Galloway and convenor of the Stop the War Coalition Lindsey German

But this is to ignore the very real personal disquiet and indeed anger felt by local activists. Many became friends with the fascist couple and believed that their hearts were in the right place. The revelations have now left a very very sour taste indeed. Worse still, the SWP has, in fact, (despite the Morning Star sympathetic assertions to the contrary) done very little if anything to let other activists know about this deception after its revelation, or to warn other campaigns about the possible risks to other supporters arising from this infiltration. The story came out via the BNP-watchers and a sequence of independent website announcements, initially with disbelief and an assumption that this was counter-propaganda from the fascists. It surely couldn't be true? Could it? Why weren't the SWP members saying anything?


Two things need to be emphasised here. First, there was the ease with which two outwardly dim and almost caricature-looking students (long-haired, dishevelled, almost eco-stereotypical appearance) were taken on as members of the SWP, and elevated rapidly to the status of elected delegate to the SWP national conference. How little is it necessary to show of a political opinion to meet the core requirements of the SWP? Is this an embarrassment, explaining the silence?


Second, at the other end of the spectrum, there must be some likelihood that the BNP "new" leadership under Griffin, under attack from the "old" fascists such as Tyndall, wanted to show off their North West coup. How better to do this than by revealing the depth of this particular dirty trick (fascist dirty tricks having been expected by the left throughout the election campaign period - and surprisingly seeming not to have emerged.......)?


The world of entrism is always liable to become confusing, to the minions and the manipulators alike. But the socialist left always needs to be aware of the dangers of taking in anyone off the street, tokenistically, and too easily. It will leave a nasty smell.


August 2004


For Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~ For Socialism