Ex-Generals Warn-Off BNP

(Reuters) – A GROUP OF FORMER BRITSH ARMY GENERALS accused far right-wing parties today of hijacking Britain’s military history for their own ‘dubious ends.’

The ex-generals said in a letter that the reputation of Britain’s armed forces was being tarnished by political extremists who use military symbols in their publicity material.

The British National Party (BNP), which calls for a halt to immigration, voluntary repatriation of immigrants and Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, has used photographs of World War Two leader Winston Churchill in its previous campaign material.

Party leader Nick Griffin is currently at the centre of another controversy surrounding his planned appearance on the BBC’s current affairs panel show Question Time on Thursday.

The letter, which has been reported in the Times and Sun, is part of a campaign by military figures to prevent right-wing organisations from masquerading as veterans’ charities.

‘The reputation of Britain’s Armed Services is being tarnished by political extremists attempting to appropriate it for their own dubious ends,’ the letter said.

‘We deplore this trend. The values of these extremists — many of whom are essentially racist — are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military such as tolerance and fairness.’

The letter is signed by the former heads of the army Mike Jackson and Richard Dannatt, as well as the former chief of defence of staff Charles Guthrie and a commander in the first Gulf War Patrick Cordingley.

It goes on to say that Commonwealth soldiers make up about 10% of the armed forces, representing an ‘invaluable contribution to the success of Britain’s military.’

Without naming the BNP, it goes on to say: ‘The reputation of our Armed Forces was won over centuries of service in some of the most difficult areas of the world.

‘Political extremists should claim no right to share in this proud heritage.

‘We call on all those who seek to hijack the good name of Britain’s military for their own advantage to cease and desist.’

Former soldiers and politicians have also placed videos on the Internet, complaining at the use of military material and images by such parties.

Critics, including a government minister, have also complained about Griffin’s planned appearance on Question Time, the first time the party’s leader will have appeared on one of the BBC’s current affairs television shows, describing it as ‘irrational and unlawful.’

Mainstream parties have previously refused to share a public platform with the BNP to avoid giving it credibility.

The BNP has no seats in the national parliament but its popularity has grown in recent years and it now has a number of local councillors and in June won two seats to the European Parliament.

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