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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Edgar Griffin interview in full
Edgar Griffin has been sacked from Iain Duncan Smith's campaign team and expelled from the Tory party over his links to the far-right BNP party.
Here is a full transcript of his interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 24 August, and an interview which followed with the Tory MP David Maclean, assistant campaign co-ordinator for the Duncan Smith campaign:
Question (Q): Edgar Griffin has been sacked - although he has been denying that - anyway he is on the line, so is the Tory MP David Maclean, system campaign co-ordinator for the Duncan Smith campaign. Mr Griffin can I clear up this business? Have you resigned, have you been sacked, are you still vice-president, what is going on here?
Edgar Griffin (EG): Well, I have offered to them that if I am any embarrassment at all to Mr Duncan Smith obviously I shall resign from his campaign committee as vice-president.
I don't want to be a thorn in his side at all. I am satisfied that I shall be prepared to do whatever he wants in the matter of distribution of his literature - which was planned 10 days ago - I shall continue to do that. But certainly technically I am quite prepared to resign as vice president of his campaign.
Q: But you haven't actually been told have you that you have been sacked?
Q: Mr Lloyd-Davis is the chairman of the Conservatives in your part of the world?
EG: In Wales. There was no problem whatsoever as far as he was concerned. But really and truly the waters have got so muddied now that - well, I was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw Mr Jenkin last evening - poor man seemed to have been bullied and flustered..
Q: Mr Jenkin?
EG: Yeah - after he was on TV.
Q: You mean Bernard Jenkin?
EG: Yeah. The point is he seemed to be so flustered - perhaps he was bullied by the commentators - I don't know but I was flabbergasted to hear him say - you know, how can they say I am an infiltrator? I have been in the Conservative Party since 1948 and virtually never been out of office in that time.
Q: Well I tell you what, we can clear up this business of whether you have been sacked or not quite easily because we have got David Maclean, as I say, on the line - let's just sort that out. Has he been sacked Mr Maclean?
DM: Yes, he has. Let me make one thing clear, I am not going to debate with Mr Griffin. Mr Griffin is not part of this campaign...
DM: At half-past-five we discovered this problem, at a quarter-past-six he was made an offer he could not refuse and he is no longer a part of the campaign. Iain insisted that he be out immediately.
We then reported him to the party in Wales so the party there can investigate how this came about. As far as we are concerned and Iain is concerned he has fought the BNP all his life, he abhors what they stand for.
EG: What do they stand for Mr Maclean? What are you talking about? What do the BNP stand for?
DM: I am sorry, I am not going to debate that with Mr Griffin.
EG: Well you are not a democrat then are you? Unless you are prepared to face facts and speak the truth you are not part of the democratic procedure.
Q: Let's go to Mr Maclean in a moment then because he doesn't want to debate with you. Let's deal with a couple of the things that you yourself have been saying Mr Griffin. You say you've been a member of the Conservative Party since the 40s..
Q: Right, 1948. Have you been expressing the sort of views that you're quoting as having expressed in the newspapers today, throughout that time? For instance do you believe as you have been saying that it is perfectly right - and this is a BNP position isn't it? - that black people should be voluntarily repatriated?
Q: Is it?
EG: If they want - of course it is. Obviously if someone comes along from the Caribbean and wants to be helped to return to the Caribbean then they should be helped shouldn't they? That is only common sense.
Q: And you reckon that a lot of people in the Tory Party believe that do you?
EG: Well, I would suppose virtually everyone of the grassroots that you could talk to would say that if they want to return to their homeland they should be helped. There is no compulsion about it, it is purely voluntary.
Q: But this applies of course only to black people?
Q: What about people from Australia?
EG: Well why not?
Q: So it might apply to white people as well might it?
EG: I suppose so yes - of course. But the point is that's not necessarily BNP policy, that's simply common sense.
Q: Is it? Well it is specifically BNP policy isn't it that non-white immigrants who are legally here will be encouraged to their lands.
EG: No, you are overstating it - not to be encouraged at all.
Q: No I am not overstating it - I am quoting from the BNP policy statement.
EG:The point is what do I know of their statements? In all conscience I am a Conservative Party member - I don't know every dot and full-stop of their programme - their manifesto.
All I can tell you is that their manifestos are prepared by professional people on committees such as doctors and nurses on the health service and teachers on education and farmers on agriculture, retired police and prison officers on law and order.
They have got professional people now working - barristers and lawyers - on their legal side. They have got a lot professional people who produced their manifesto - as you well know on social justice - British jobs for British workers - trade union involvement and an increase of trade with our ex-colonies, particularly the Caribbean.
Q: Let's not go into every detail of BNP policy. Let's turn to relationships with the Iain Duncan Smith campaign - they are - we have just heard now from Mr Maclean - they are very surprised that somebody with your views..
EG: My views are ordinary Tory views - there is nothing strange about my views.
EG: No I have never met him and I haven't talked to him, I have only talked to the Welsh people who invited me to assist and be vice president of the campaign.
Q: So you were invited to be a vice president?
Q:Is it your...did they know what your views are?
'Ordinary Tory views'
EG: What are my views? They are ordinary Tory views - there is nothing startling or extraordinary about my views - they are perfectly normal.
Q:And they were quite happy with them?
EG: Of course. As a Conservative Party member, I have every reason to differ in detail occasionally from another party member.
Q: And you never made any attempt to conceal your views from any of the other people in the party?
EG: Absolutely not. My views are perfectly well known. They are quite ordinary. They are simply in line with frankly the ordinary common or garden worker in the party.
Q: Thanks very much for that. Let me turn now to David Maclean.
DM: I wondered when you would turn to me now.
Q: Well there we are - give you a chance to rebut that if you wish, what he just said.
DM: I am grateful to you for exposing the extremism of Mr Griffin's views and I think that the action Iain took last night within 45 minutes of hearing of this chap - to bounce him immediately off the campaign, to report him to the party in Wales and also to carry out an investigation as to why some people in Wales clearly knew of this man and had taken no action, were content for him to be a member of the party when his views are clearly abhorrent.
I have never met a single other Conservative in all my life in politics who shared those views which Mr Griffin has explained on your programme this morning.
Q: Well let's deal with that. Mr Griffin says he has never made any secret of his views - indeed he thinks that most grassroots members of the Conservative Party hold those same views. How can it have happened do you think?
DM: Well he is utterly wrong - he is utterly wrong in that regard. Someone in Wales has made a mistake.
And the other thing which is now rather interesting is clearly someone knew about this and no action was taken and then it comes out to the press in this sort of manner.
Q: Well quite apart from no action being taken - he was invited to be vice president of the campaign and here's a man...
DM: Let me tell you how that happened - that is quite simple - because our organisers in Wales phoned round Conservative offices and said are there any Conservative officers, or chairmen or vice chairmen who might support Iain Duncan Smith.
His name was given to us along with a host of others. Now we don't run an MI5 system whereby we can check every single person who volunteers to help - that was a job for the party in Wales to root out people like this.
DM: It is not our job to take a second look at people who are chairmen or vice chairmen of a local party in Montgomeryshire.
Q: Well isn't it?
DM: No, because if there were official Conservative members there, we assume that the party locally has actually been satisfied.
Q: Should he be sacked from the party now?
DM: Well I am quite clear from what I have heard this morning he should be. But that is a decision the party in Wales will have to take and I hope they take it speedily.
Iain Duncan Smith will be very keen to see people like this - not just off his campaign, not just a million miles from us, but out of the Conservative Party because their views do not represent a single shred of what the Conservative Party stands for today.
And I also say to some of my colleagues who have jumped on the bandwagon to try and smear Iain this morning - we didn't say a word about Ken and the tobacco problems - this problem was dealt with rapidly and swiftly by Iain.
This person - his wife - even fought Iain in his constituency. He has fought these people all his life - he abhors everything they stand for and to try and smear Iain as a sort of extremist with links to people like this is despicable and I call on my colleagues - let's start talking about the issues, stop the smear campaign and talk about the things that matter to people in this country.
The interview ended.
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