But the most damaging revelation came on Friday. Hours before Nick Griffin and his odious sidekick, Simon Darby came to Stoke to launch the BNP's general election campaign, Alby Walker, former leader of the BNP group on the council, announced that he too would be contesting Stoke Central - the same constituency Darby has been parachuted into! When fascists fall out they really fall out!
Actually, it's not too surprising Walker has behaved this way. Since supplanting the utterly tool-like Steve Batkin as BNP group leader, along with his wife and fellow councillor, Ellie, the Walkers have proven less gaffe prone than the hapless Batkin and have worked to portray the BNP as community activists (needless to say their "community work" is problematic). Nonetheless appearances count and they've served the BNP's profile in the Potteries well.
So Alby was most displeased when he got wind that the BNP's number two (in both senses of the term) had decided to contest Stoke Central. Given the record of electoral support for the BNP (six of the council group represent wards in the constituency) they can be forgiven for fancying their chances. But this support only exists because of the consistent work that's been put in - especially by the Walkers. By parachuting Darby into Stoke Nazi Nick is basically saying "thanks for all the work - now fuck off". Of course the fuhrer has form on this - remember how he elbowed Barnbrook aside in Barking? And as if to add fuel to the fire, there's a rumour doing the rounds that the English Defence League plan on contesting the seat too. Brilliant!
There is a bit more to this than sour grapes. According to Walker's statement supporting his Stoke Central candidacy, he's come to the conclusion that the political infighting - between and within Stoke's parties - is placing the regeneration and the welfare of The Potteries in jeopardy. The present stance of the BNP couldn't have helped either - they're very good at criticising but never offer much in the way of alternative policy (a stance at the root of a small scale split early last year).
Apart from Walker's drift into a more generalised anti-politics (it'll be interesting to see if he dumps the BNP ideological baggage), what the BNP does conflicts with his own practice as a "community councillor". As Edmund Standing points out, the BNP's political practice is about keeping the quasi-religious cult of the non-personality around Griffin on the road. Populist lies about immigrants getting a better deal than old folks are just that. They're designed to get the votes in and accumulate monies and prestige (if it can be called that) for the national leadership. BNP activists aren't actually expected to give a shit about the people they represent (the party's accounts certainly demonstrate the leaders couldn't give a hoot about the led). But it seems in Walker's case that he actually, genuinely does. In the end he had to make a choice - carry on being Stoke's public face for a bunch of chancers and criminals or carry on in his community activist mould. And within the terms of his own politics he did the decent thing. Were he not a fascist I would applaud him.
In fact, today Walker made the breach with the BNP official. He informed the City Council that he's stepped down from the BNP council group and resigned his party membership. There is also a strong rumour Ellie Walker will be resigning too with the possibility of a third. None of this negates a need for a strong anti-fascist campaign in Stoke during the general election, but these splits will severely blunt the BNP's chances.
Photo taken at the BNP's press conference on Friday. Unfortunate seating position, Nick!