Those detractors of Cllr. Auty who state he cannot "cut the mustard" on handling the media would do well to rethink their unjustified claims. Colin is a man who can take the BNP forward to new heights of political success, a man who doesnt have the baggage which has saddled the BNP and prevented it from capitalising on the enormous potential that exists in the current political environment.
Colin Auty's interview:
Painter and decorator and part-time BNP councillor Colin Auty shocked his party last week when announcing he would challenge Nick Griffin for the leadership. It's caused a rift in the local and national BNP, but does it signify high ambition from the candidate or frustration at a fading political movement? DANNY LOCKWOOD spoke to him.
On the Friday lunchtime, two years ago, when the returning officer for Kirklees Council announced Colin Auty as the duly elected BNP councillor for Dewsbury East in the main hall of the town's Sports Centre, there were various reactions.
Nick Cass and his hard core of BNP activists danced in jubilation: here was proof positive that their extremist party was inexorably on the rise. Or so they thought.
Eric Firth, the deposed long-serving Labour man, stood stunned, as grey as his beard. Colin Auty looked up at me, standing among the journalists on the sports hall balcony, with a bemused look on his face and shrugged his shoulders as though to say 'crikey, what next?'
Crikey indeed. The only leaflets Colin had distributed during his election 'campaign' had belonged to his Labour rival Firth. He'd found them so hilariously and (he thought) hypocritically targeted at working class parts of Chickenley, that he took Eric's leaflets and shoved them through letter boxes in the posher Bennett Lane area.
Three days after his election, Colin, dressed in his painter and decorator's overalls, stopped for a chat in Dewsbury town centre.
I told him I'd never painted him as a BNP type. He described how he'd got fed up of being the bloke at the end of the bar, moaning and complaining and doing nothing about it. How he was sickened at what was happening to the town of his birth, with his perceived 'British' way of life being diluted by the day, washed away down the Calder.
He spoke of a new breed of ordinary people flocking to the BNP flag. How even then, he found some of the party's hardliners 'distasteful'. (That probably wasn't quite the word he used in hindsight.)
Two years on lots of things have changed. Colin among them, though that's not an observation he might recognise. At the age of 57 he has found a new articulation; there's a confidence born of public speaking, though as a sometime musician he's always been comfortable on a stage. But there's also been a closer forming of his political convictions - and that's unfortunate for the British National Party, depending on how you care (or otherwise) for their fortunes.
Dewsbury was the "jewel in the BNP crown" as their adored/reviled leader Nick Griffin described it after the 2005 General Election, and the district was again the centrepiece of their march on Kirklees Council in 2006 when they polled almost 20,000 votes and boasted three councillors. But 2008 paints a very different totem.
The election results of just two weeks ago defined a political party in as much of a local decline as Labour was nationally.
Their group leader, David Exley, lost his Heckmondwicke seat to the clinically mobilised Labour vote. In Auty's own Dewsbury East ward any shenanigans involving the Tories fielding an Asian candidate failed to either dent Paul Kane's dominant position or rally voters to the BNP flag.
Their performance in Dewsbury South, where Thornhill has always been a stronghold without quite yielding a seat, summed up the BNP's declining fortunes. Their vote dropped by a third, as the Tories wiped the floor with all comers.
It was a result generally mirrored across Kirklees, and perhaps unsurprising given that the local party is in turmoil.
High profile boss Nick Cass has barely been seen since the execrable 'BNP Wives' documentary aired on national television - a massive embarrassment to the party, with Cass and his pretty wife Suzy front and centre.
There is a schism generally between the new generation of moderates and, not to put too fine a description on it, the 'Paki haters'. It translates onto the national BNP stage with Colin Auty fronting up the moderate BNP membership's assault on the hardliners, challenging Nick Griffin for the party leadership.
Is he serious? A two-year councillor, a BNP member for only five years? Best known for writing an insulting ditty about
Colin is pragmatic about his challenge:
"I don't think I will be allowed to win. I won't be allowed to address party meetings. I've had one cancel already and I was only going along with my guitar to sing a song.
His challenge has certainly ruffled feathers across the BNP. Their national election officer, Eddie Butler, has said members should refuse to sign Auty's nomination, describing his challenge as "pitiful and moronic", him as a "joke candidate" and saying that if a leadership challenge must be staged it should be "quickly, quietly and with no publicity".
So much for good old British democracy, but then again democracy has very little to do with the British National Party's traditional way of doing things. And that is why Colin Auty has chosen a bloody collision course and may or may not have a future in the party by the end of the summer.
The BNP leader, Nick Griffin, has an advisory panel but can override them. He has a virtual dictatorship - which the BNP's many critics will nod sagely at. Ring any 1930-ish bells?
"I will not follow a dictatorship," said Cllr Auty. "I don't want to see the party accountable to one man. I want to see the one man answerable to the party."
At a meeting in
"I find that abhorrent," Auty continues. "Just because the man is a moderate who wants to promote change? He is called vermin by his own party leader?
"I'm a councillor. I've stood in the firing line. I know what it's like to have the spears chucked at me. Nick Griffin comes out of his fort in mid-Wales to preach to the faithful every now and again.
"People see the media dwelling on the negatives, and it all surrounds people like Nick Griffin and Mark Collett.
"My voters say to me 'it's the image'. Nick Griffin is causing the stagnation of the party, with his holocaust denial, saying Islam is a wicked religion. It stops people voting for people like me and David Exley."
It would be interesting to hear
"They are all due my respect. Everyone is worth respect. I never hurt and I never hate. I sail through life and I try to have a pleasant attitude to things."
It's ironic that the most hate and bile he has endured has been from white politicians. At the election count a fortnight ago a senior Labour figure threatened to punch his lights out - and got a real surprise when his bluff was called. There's not much fear flowing in Auty's veins. But then again like so many of his generation, he grew up in the school of hard knocks. Bullying, and attempts at it, receive short shrift.
The Kirklees Council learning curve has been steep.
"I remember my first time at a planning meeting. It was like the first day at a new school. I was sat on the bus on my own."
But it wasn't all cold shoulder. One councillor came up and offered him a sweet.
"Some individuals have managed to separate the badge from the person. They see that I'm a moderate kind of guy. They don't see me as a Nick Griffin type. I don't live in a fort, and only come out surrounded by bodyguards wearing shades."
After two years the experience of being a councillor has witnessed changes to the way he sees both politics and his party - though not his town, or his own beliefs.
"I've never been afraid of losing votes or even my council badge over what I say. This just gave me a chance to give a voice to the average people I meet on the street. But I don't have to hold onto the 'voice', because I really don't have any personal ambition at all.
"It seems to have created a vacuum for me though, in so much as although people are listening and agreeing and saying 'that's right Colin' and 'we agree with you Colin', they aren't necessarily behind me. It doesn't show itself in the vote. And I end up feeling a lone voice.
"Some people vote for me, but others cannot because of the image of the BNP. I'm trying to sell a new car with a scratched bonnet.
"My attitude has changed towards the BNP. It's changed locally as well because you get a better insight when you are involved within the council. You see issues differently on the inside.
"It's about power - the council. It's certainly not about people. Whether it's the parties or the individual politicians whatever they believe is right and just, they would relinquish it for a vote. That's probably my naivete, but I could not tell someone something wrong or go against what I believe, just to further my own ends. There aren't enough people out there telling it like it is.
"I got into politics to do something, achieve something. To see issues addressed, issues debated honestly, and then a positive outcome. That's not the reality, I'm afraid."
He enjoys to healthy debate of the closed room, trying to get things done for the district.
"But it's not the same in public. In a non-public arena we will get more people willing to talk. Once in public they feel the (BNP) badge comes to the fore and they are tainted if they at all acquaint themselves with me."
He speaks bitterly of credit for his work being claimed by political rivals, of seeing his contributions to local stories edited out of the Dewsbury Reporter, of local projects being schemed to suit political ends. But beyond that he gets great satisfaction out of simply being an effective ward councillor. "I like helping people, and you get to help lots of people in this job. Isn't that what it's about? It should be."
For now Colin Auty's political future is defined starkly by the next two months, when the BNP will be expected to stage manage the cursory dismissal of his leadership challenge. He knows that, but hopes his effort might begin a process of democratic change within the party. He is guarded about what the outcome will mean to him personally.
Certainly the way feral elements of the local BNP have turned on him have left a mark that won't be soon forgotten. Steve Cass, father of Nick, a regular Press letter writer and very much a
But the core beliefs of the bloke no longer just moaning at the end of the bar endure still.
"Our children's children have to have a country that they can call their own. If you're from
"Wherever they come to this country from, they still have their history and roots. And we won't have any in 20 or 30 years. That's a good enough reason in itself for me to stand as a politician, all by itself. To fight for our children's right to have a country still theirs.
"It's not because you don't like the colour of someone's skin or their religion. It's because they have their culture guaranteed and we have a country of white politicians trying to give away ours."
And after the
"I'll face that when I come to it. I'm stuck between the left-wing elements of the established parties and the right wing of the BNP, but I'm straight down the middle. And I think that's where the people are."