BNP's blonde bombshell - elegant, utterly respectable

Feb 1, 2008, Times Online:

What community wouldn't be proud to have a Donna Bailey in its midst?

Committed to civic improvement, she's just as determined to mend broken swings in the park as she is to stop teenagers hanging around the local corner shop in the evenings.

Such is the message coming from the fellow mothers huddled in the park in question, a sorely neglected corner of the quaint West Sussex village of Upper Beeding.

The mums here call Donna - a warm, blue-eyed beautician, who offers facials at very reasonable rates - one of their own, which in itself is something of an accolade.

They tell you that Upper Beeding is actually the sort of place where you are an outsider until your family has lived here for three generations.

Donna, 41, however, has been brought into the fold in an astonishing four years, since moving here with her three children to start a new life after a painful divorce.

"She's a marvellous person. She's just thrown herself-into helping the community, and there aren't a lot of people like that around these days," explains Lorraine Blain, 38, who runs the local pub.

"She raised money for the school, helping them buy laptops, and she's forever talking about how we've got to do something for the youngsters, to stop them loitering at the local convenience store every night."

No surprises then that her fellow mums supported Donna when she told them she was thinking of standing for the parish council.

Indeed, her being appointed seemed assured, given that at most meetings she was the only one of the public who deigned to turn up to watch the proceedings.

That was, however, until a startling discovery was made by existing members of the parish council. A little bit of internet research - carried out, it seems, more through curiosity than anything else - revealed that nice blonde, friendly, efficient Donna was, in fact, a member of the British National Party, and a very active member at that.

On two previous occasions she had stood, unsuccessfully, as a district councillor in neighbouring areas, representing a party that many on the parish council - indeed the country at large - regard as, at best, racist and unsavoury and, at worst, downright dangerous.

So was this really the sort of woman the village wanted at its core? The councillors thought not, and voted to reject her application.

Then something rather unexpected - some say, worrying - happened. Donna's friends got to hear of the matter, and were outraged.

She asked some of them to come with her to the next parish council meeting, and voice their objections.

So they did. One night just before Christmas, some 23 of them marched into the meeting, where Donna demanded another vote. They got their wish, but her application was rejected once more ...

Somehow it is shocking that Donna Bailey has peach walls in her living room. "What did you expect? Swastikas and skinheads?" she jokes, as she makes coffee.

"I think you'll find I'm quite normal really." ...

"Yes. Well, actually, it was the Europe thing that did it. All the other parties want us to be part of Europe, and I think it is only a matter of time before Europe is a superstate, and I object to that.

"Oh, of course I had the same preconceptions. I thought probably exactly the same of the BNP as you do. I thought, if this is all racist, offensive stuff then I am switching right off.

"But it wasn't. It was all perfectly sensible. I found myself agreeing with everything - especially the immigration stuff." ...

This is a problem? "Yes. I think people should come here and speak English. That isn't racist. It's common sense. I think the same about Brits who go over to Spain to live. They shouldn't be allowed to open fish and chip shops there. It is offensive."

She says that "of course" she wouldn't want to send any of the local Asian families back to their country of origin, but that repatriation is a jolly good idea.

"On a voluntary basis, of course. We aren't going to force anyone out."

So, her story goes, she found herself popping along for BNP meetings, discovering that the others there were "quite normal too", and somewhere along the way she convinced herself that there was nothing remotely dangerous or sinister about the party.

"It's just the bad press," she insists. At one point, I refer to the BNP as a party to the extreme Right and she disagrees. "I don't think they are to the extreme Right." ...

Her response is slick, and wellpractised.

"Obviously mistakes have been made in the past, but the party has apologised for these, and moved on. That is in the past as far as I am concerned, and a part of taking the party on is about the new membership. It's like New Labour and Old Labour. Completely different."

And that new membership would mean you, and people like you?

"Oh yes. You'd be amazed if you went to one of our meetings. It's all people like me." ...

Donna's supporters scoff. "Dangerous? Donna? Of course not," says Lorraine Blain down at the local pub, laughing at such a preposterous notion. "She's just a mum like me who cares about what happens in this village."

And this perhaps is the most terrifying part of all. Simon Birnstingl believes that real disenchantment with Westminster politics has brought the village to this point.

He says many locals are so far removed from the political process - and Westminster politicians so illinformed about what is actually happening in places like this - that parties like the BNP are being allowed to make themselves acceptable.

"There are real issues that are not being addressed, and people are just switching off. I think it is horrific that a lot of people just shrug when you say BNP. They honestly don't care." ...

"The thing is I think Donna will do her best for the village. She has kids of her own. She cares about what happens here. And if we want the teenagers off the streets, she's our best hope."
Shocking peach walls. I don't know anything about the BNP, but it is obvious that people will turn elsewhere when mainstream parties no longer represent them. The media makes great fodder of oddball politicians, but is stumped when normal respectable people appear. 'Slick' is all they can come up with. The ground shifts beneath them.


KG said...

The newspaper article was a thinly-veiled, sneering attack on the BNP and the woman who wrote it isn't fit to be called a journalist.
She neatly--and dishonestly--skates over the reasons for the BNP's rise in popularity and instead attacks the messenger.

Abandon Skip said...

True, but the author keeps repeating the "shock" factor of a respectable face for the BNP. To me, that's an admission by the journalist that she is losing the moral high ground. Her shock is probably because suddenly her PC liberal journalistic presumptions that underly her whole career, and everything she writes, are suddenly threatened. Given the constrains of a PC liberal media, I thought the article came to a positive conclusion: maybe the BNP is no longer swatiskas and does represent the concerns of respectable folk. If more people like her stand up, then next time journalists will be forced to write why the BNP is gaining support. Painfully slow progress, but hey ...

Anonymous said...

We could do with More Women Candidates in the BNP.