As the National Union of Mineworkers is an implacable and long-standing opponent of the British National Party and everything it represents, a claim made in Nick Griffin’s first constituency newsletter that “The National Union of Mineworkers has asked Nick Griffin to oppose the EU-Columbia Free Trade Agreement” came as something of a surprise.
Had the NUM taken leave of its senses? Was it really cosying up to the BNP?
Griffin did his best to give the impression that the NUM had asked him for support in a personal capacity, saying that he had agreed to back the NUM’s campaign. His newsletter, apparently mainly the work of Martin Wingfield, said: “The MEP for the North West [as if Griffin were the region’s only MEP] told the NUM: ‘I shall be campaigning against the agreement because the European Union should not be making trade deals that have a detrimental effect on British industry and British jobs. We should not be importing coal from Columbia when we have large reserves of coal here to be mined.'”
So say all of us, broadly speaking – but note that Griffin makes no mention of the NUM’s ethical objections to trade with Columbia, as exemplified by the Justice for Columbia Campaign, to which the NUM and dozens of other trade unions affiliate.
And if Griffin did indeed tell the NUM of his support, then the union remains blissfully unaware of the fact.
Smelling the usual BNP rat, we called the National Union of Mineworkers on Monday and spoke with Chris Skidmore, executive member and Yorkshire area chairman.
Mr Skidmore was concerned but not surprised to learn that the BNP was making political capital on the back of the NUM: “We will have nothing to do with Nick Griffin and the BNP,” he said, explaining that a NUM campaign newsletter highlighting the union’s objections to the EU-Columbia Free Trade Agreement had been sent out to hundreds of organisations and people, including British MEPs.
The secretary who compiled the mailing list was inexperienced, Mr Skidmore went on, and overlooked Griffin’s name, which, along with the names and addresses of all other British MEPs was abstracted from regular EU sources. Leaving Griffin’s name on the list was, he said, an honest mistake, deeply regretted by the secretary, who was “very embarrassed”.
“The NUM actively campaigns against the BNP,” Mr Skidmore told us, “and has links with many anti-fascist organisations, including Searchlight, HOPE not hate and the UAF. Last May an entire issue of our newspaper, The Miner, was devoted to opposing the British National Party. We will never have dealings with the BNP.”
Nevertheless, the BNP has printed hundreds of thousands of glossy leaflets intended to give the voters of the North-West exactly the opposite impression.
Readers in the North-West who want to help spike the BNP on their own propaganda are urged to contact local newspapers in areas where these deliberately misleading leaflets are delivered, pointing to the National Union of Mineworkers online contacts page. NUM officials will be more than happy to put the record straight.