Solidarity Splitters!

Solidarity, the right nationalist ‘trade union’, might not be nearly as much use to their members as a real union, but they are at least excelling in one area – splits and squabbles.

Over the past week, a very entertaining story has been emerging. It seems that Pat Harrington, General Secretary (and occasional commenter to this blog), has been suspended from his post by the President Clive Potter and Vice-Prez Tim Hawke, amidst allegations of financial irregularities. Apparently, the accounts the union needs to supply to the Certification Officer are delayed, after Potter believed the version of the accounts Harrington showed him was too unclear, and refused to sign them without seeing the full accounts. Hawke claims that an un-named Merseyside BNP member has been appointed Acting GS, until a new GS is found, and that the BNP are planning a hostile takeover of the union.

Harrington unsurprisingly has a different take on this, and as he still has the keys to the website, he’s letting everyone know about it by calling for an EGM in July to appoint a new (and larger) executive (Hawke is amusingly reduced to getting his message out via the Lancaster Unite Against Fascism blog). Harrington says that he and the BNP leadership believe that the troubles, and a leadership challenge, are being orchestrated by well organised far-left undercover saboteurs within the union. The BNP has in the meantime stopped recommending members to join the union.

What is going on? Both these explanations sound a little fishy. If there’s been any embezzlement going on, it’s rather cheap stuff, given the union has at most 100 subs paying members and can’t have any cash to speak of. Otherwise, Sherlock Holmes’ maxim could have us believing that any far-left groups are well organised enough to have done this.

And what does this bode for Harrington’s claims that Solidarity are BNP independent? If the BNP are now considering a takeover, maybe they were indeed more separated than most people thought (though won’t be very soon if the EGM goes ahead). Though how to square this with his claim on the union’s site that the accounts were audited by Kenny Smith (head of BNP admin) yet not shown to Hawke and Potter, and Harrington’s objection that the new AGS is not a BNP member of good standing?

Hat tip: Lancaster UAF
Bonus entertainment: Clive Potter is in the news again – from Unity

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7 thoughts on “Solidarity Splitters!

  1. Hey, at least it’s not as bad as an ASLEF barbecue!

    The situation within Solidarity is complex. As a fan of your site I thought I would try to give you some insight.

    The accounts which have yet to be signed off by Hawke and Potter have been published on our website. They relate to the first year in which very little activity took place. During this year expenditure was very small and covered PO Box rental, Webhosting, printing and postage mainly. The only payment to an individual during the period was in fact to Clive Potter to reimburse him for travel expenses to an Exec meeting and to repay him for opening the PO Box. I offered to meet Tim Hawke and show him the receipts, bank statements and accounts the weekend prior to handing them in to the Certification Officer. I offered to travel from Edinburgh to Suffolk in order to do this. He told me he was to busy to meet me.

    The Certification Officer granted an extension to enable me to persuade either Clive Potter or Tim Hawke to sign. I have sent them copies of receipts and bank statements and invited them once more to do so.

    These accounts were prepared by a professional firm of accountants and independently audited according to the law. Yes, one of the lay auditors is a BNP official (the other is a Barrister). I choose a high-ranking BNP official as we have a number of members from that Party and I wanted them to understand that everything was above board.

    As you may be aware Trade Unions are very regulated. Our accounts have to be audited, submitted to the Certification Officer and published to our membership. As you point out the sums of money involved are small. There is no truth whatsoever in the allegations made and this will be established.

    My objections to Mr McLinden don’t relate to the fact that he is not a BNP member of good standing. It is his conduct as a member of our Union that gives me cause for concern. It is noteworthy, however, that he has a record of disruption in other groups.

    I’m interested to note that the timing of our difficulties coincides with a leadership challenge to Nick Griffin. It intrigues me that the attack on Solidarity and his handling of it is being used to attack him. It’s funny too how he is also being accused of having his fingers in the till (without the provision of any evidence of course). Life is certainly full of coincidences!

    You will be delighted to learn that we continue to work for our members. On Thursday I was dealing with an unpaid SSP claim and on Friday represented a member at a grievance hearing. I draw your attention to the case of Mark Walker who I am personally representing.

    The BNP has now reinstated advertising for the Union (as has Third Way) and in fact we are involved with a major recruitment campaign. This has resulted in a flood of applications. Curiously, even the current controversey seems to have boosted our profile and recruitment.

    Our membership is very steadfast and knows the score. Only two members have thus far resigned as a result of the anti-Solidarity campaign. They will probably rejoin later.

    At our EGM I’m confident that a wider Executive will be elected. Those who have sought to disrupt our work will have questions to answer before the membership.

    Pat Harrington

  2. Thanks Pat. Yes, best avoid the barbies for a while! Mind you, should be safe on that front with this weather.

    So what’s your take on why Potter and Hawke are holding you to ransom? Is this as you suggest possibly part of a wider attempt to change leadership at the BNP?

  3. Nominations closed recently in the BNP leadrship elections. There is a challenge to Nick Griffin which appears to involve manipulation from external groups.

    According to the Press Statement issued by the rival Jackson camp they were expecting a three month campaign. This was based on a misreading of the BNP Constitution which states that the election must be held “within” three months. In fact the poll will be held in just over three weeks.

    The Press Statement (not so cleverly issued on the day Tony Blair left office!) attacks Nick Griffin for his handling of finances and makes a number of unsupported allegations.

    I believe that the disruption of Solidarity was intended to be used as a further stick to beat Griffin with. The style of making vague accusations about finances without providing evidence is remarkably similar.

    Looking at the email from Hawke is instructive. It indicates that this is not someone acting from any principled position or from genuine concern. He says that disciplinary action was started at a meeting at which I was present. This is a blatant lie intended to get round the fact that the secret meeting at which they actually voted to suspend me was inquorate. Fortunately, I keep good records of all my dealings (particularly with those I don’t trust) and will have no difficulty proving to any Court the truth of what I say. He goes on to state that I am being investigated by the Certification Officer. Again this is not the case.

    There are some attempts on blogs and postings to use the Solidarity disruption against Nick Griffin. In fact, however, he is likely to gain support for the decisive action he has taken in denouncing the would-be wreckers and traitors. Speaking to members of Solidarity who are also in the BNP I am told that Griffin will win overwhelming support.

    I find the incompetence displayed by those involved in both the anti-Griffin campaign and the attempt to disrupt Solidarity astounding. It is one of the things that convinces me that it is not State run but the work of some unprofessional, political outfit.

  4. Why is everything that Patrick Harrington touches turns to dust? Why is there awalys trouble and dissession when he gets involved? Why all the splits when Patrick is about?

    (comment edited)

  5. (comment edited)

    On a factual point Third Way was formed in 1990 and has never split.I have only been in one organisation that split – the National Front which I left in 1989. It was splitting on a regular basis long before I joined it!

    I can assure Kevin that I always make time for my Union work.I continue to represent those who need it as disciplinaries and grievances and write on Union topics (all thus far on a voluntary basis).

    I am well aware that the media is used to punish dissidents in our great democracy. If you advocate alternative policies to the establishment consensus you should really expect vilification. It has little effect on me as I am quite capable of defending myself and answering smears.

    It doesn’t upset me that Third Way is “treated with suspicion by many in the political establishment”. We don’t entirely trust them you know…

  6. As someone busy grinding an axe on another blog, it seems Mr Harrington likes to believe what the papers say when it suits him. Someone who seems to know so much about how the press work and how smears are readily created to suit the political stance of the paper, it seems strange that he still revels in libellous ‘exposes’ when it suits. As long as it’s not Mr Harrington himself in the firing line, it’s okay is it? I’m surprised Harrington has any time to do union work after spending hours on all the blogs he frequents.

  7. (comment edited)

    I regard answering attacks on our officials and Union as part of my work Kevin. You’ll be delighted to learn I also have a lot of help. I am involved in many areas of work for our Union on a purely voluntary basis. As far as your serious point is concerned I do distinguish betwen press reports and matters I have some personal knowledge of.

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