By Alex Stevenson
A series of bequests helped the far-right British National party (BNP)'s reported donations jump by 730% in 2012, new figures out today show.
Statistics released by the Electoral Commission revealed the BNP received £265,987 in donations in 2012, compared to just £32,000 in 2011.
Albert Stanmore left £200,000 to the party, received in two separate donations in 2012, while further bequests of £35,000 from Brian Mincherton and £28,736.97 from Edward Hart were also received.
The only living donor registered was Russell Webb, who gave the party a total of £2,250. BNP officials said the party had also "done very well" by individual members making smaller donations falling below the registration threshold.
Combined with an extremist victory in the European parliament, which has seen nationalist parties group together to secure around 600,000 euros of funding, Nick Griffin's party is now thought to be building up a substantial warchest.
The Alliance of European National Movements and its linked European Identities and Traditions group are together set to receive 604,566 euros under the preliminary funding details released earlier this month.
The BNP had been thought to be in financially deep waters after overspending in the European elections and 2010 general election.
But a spokesperson told politics.co.uk the "ship is beginning to stabilise", suggesting a number of bequests had been received which meant reports the party is in debt are "nonsense".
"We're doing really well," the party spokesperson said.
"Everyone's saying the BNP are in debt, but it's all nonsense, it's all historical. There's a lag with what's published.
"We've got money we've had to pay out. We spent a fortune in the European elections and general elections before then. We've had one or two problems following on from that. Now the ship's beginning to stabilise."
The Stanmore bequest came in two instalments because of the length of time it can take for funds to be released from a person's estate because of legal proceedings.
The BNP said it had "another couple of bequests in the pipeline".
"In the downturn, people turn to us," the spokesperson added.
"It affects people, this recession affects people. They can't avoid the political system. They're all saying 'you do politics or politics will do you'."
A recent report by Lewis Baston of Democratic Audit warned the Bradford West by-election won by George Galloway showed the diminished presence of the main political parties was allowing non-mainstream views of politics to emerge.
He suggested a political "vacuum" was emerging into which far-right extremist politics could prosper.
The government is hoping its integration strategy will help address the problem, providing funding for community newspapers to counter the voice of groups like the BNP and the English Defence League.
"We know that it is only at local level that we can really address the conditions the far right feeds on," communities minister Don Foster said in a speech in January.
"The far right must be isolated, undermined, outflanked and subject to the ridicule they deserve."
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By Alex Stevenson