Andrew Brons: The quiet academic with a 'silly' teenage Nazi past

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The Independent Online

A soft-spoken veteran of far- right politics, Andrew Brons appears to epitomise the sort of acceptable face of British nationalism that party leader Nick Griffin hopes will persuade voters that the BNP is no longer an extremist or racist fringe party.

Grey-haired with an almost donnish demeanour, Mr Brons has followed a career as a lecturer in politics at Harrogate College.

But beyond the 61-year-old's smart attire lies a tried and tested far-right pedigree that stretches back half a century.

His first dalliance with extremist far-right politics began at the age of 17 when he joined the National Socialist Movement, an organisation founded on Hitler's birthday in the early 1960s.

NSM members were responsible for numerous attacks on synagogues and Jewish property throughout the 1960s and also spawned John Tyndall who went on to found the second incarnation of the British National Party with his friend Nick Griffin.

Mr Brons joined the National Front in the 1970s when the neo-fascist group was at the height of its power, eventually becoming its chairman after Tyndall left.

Forced out in 1984, he faded from public view until four years ago when he joined the British National Party, eventually standing as an MEP candidate for the European elections.

Asked by The Independent yesterday whether he still held the same beliefs as when he joined the National Socialist Movement, Mr Brons said: "People do silly things when they are 17. Peter Mandelson was once a member of the Young Communist League but we don't continue to call him a communist."