Nationally, the English Democrats’ latest accounts lodged with the Electoral Commission show them to be in debt to the tune of more than £200,000.
It is, of course, no secret that the BNP is in debt too; it’s one reason we are standing fewer candidates this year, as we are now living strictly within our means. The British National Party's debt crisis is over; the English Democrats' is still 'live', and getting worse by the week.
Under Clive Jefferson’s strict and careful treasury regime, we have cut our total debt by about half in the last six months. The £26,000 income tax bill that we cleared completely recently, for example, was not much less than the English Democrats’ total annual income in their last set of accounts.
When they wrote their friendly letter to Sinn Fein/IRA, the English Democrats claimed to have 3,000 members. This is a lie. Their 2009 Electoral Commission figures show that their total income from membership subscriptions and donations combined had shrunk from £45,021 in 2007 to £30,634 in 2008 and slumped further to £23,084 in 2009.
Even if they actually received no donations at all, this means that, with membership costing £30 per year, the English Democrats membership in 2009 could not have been above 770 people. The recent addition of about a dozen BNP troublemakers won’t have helped turn things around, because a number of English Democrat old hands – such as their main man in the North West, Ed Abrams – have resigned rather than stay in a party that is happy to work so closely with people like Beverley, Collett and Butler.
The British National Party’s highest membership peak so far was just over 14,000 immediately following the distribution of more than 20 million leaflets during the 2009 European elections. As always happens, however, many of these ‘soft’ first-time members dropped out at the end of their first year, causing membership to drop back to just over 9,000 (still more than ten times larger than the English Democrats). It is now rising again and will shortly top the 10,000 mark once again.
For a party less than one-fourteenth of our size to owe only slightly less than we do, as the English Democrats do, is a catastrophic situation. Plus, our debt is coming down fast; theirs continues to rise.
According to the accounts published on the Electoral Commission website, the English Democrats’ debts have risen dangerously year on year. In 2007 they owed ‘only’ £113,272. The next year this rose to £159,866, and in 2009 (the last year for which figures are currently available), it soared to £202,929.
We don’t really know why self-styled 'hardliners' like Ramon Johns and Chris Beverley are joining the English Democrats. Those who know them best believe that Butler and Collett – the two individuals at the centre of the ex-BNP ‘rebellion’ – are getting their little clique to join in the hope that so many of the old moderates will leave that they will be able to take over. Both of them have always wanted to lead a political party, and they don’t seem to be fussy which one.
But clearly they are not joining because they want to be in a party which is financially stable. The English Democrats have only managed to keep going in recent years by borrowing more and more money off a tiny group of individuals, whose generosity is now said to be nearlyexhausted.
This explains why their leader has taken the desperate gamble of accepting a group of BNP rejects which includes not only troublemakers but also individuals whose careless extremism has produced some of the most painful anti-documentaries we’ve ever had to endure.