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Think back to the French presidential election of 2002.

I know, I know? it's boring.

And if politics in this country is dull, what would that make la politique Francaise? Just short of watching concrete dry?

But the point is that the French 2002 election was interesting. And very important.

The reason was that JeanMarie Le Pen, of the far-right Front National, made it into the two-strong final run-off with Jacques Chirac.

The French were shocked.

A veteran right-wing extremist had knocked out the mainstream socialist Lionel Jospin to make it further than anyone could have guessed.

The result? An extraordinary coalition behind Chirac saw Le Pen crushed by an overwhelming majority.

The electorate - including the Communists - had mobilised behind the loathed but moderate Chirac and thrashed the right-winger.

What's with the history lesson, you ask? In case you hadn't heard, there is a member of the British National Party campaigning against just two other candidates for the presidency of the RIBA.

The BNP. That's right. One Peter Phillips is a member of Britain's biggest far-right party and wants to be the leader of your profession.

Picture it. Phillips being grilled by John Humphreys on the Today Programme. Phillips on Channel 4 handing over the Stirling Prize. Phillips writing a column in the RIBA Journal.

And all the while contributing to the objectives of BNP leader Nick Grifn and his far-right party acolytes.

Phillips would be your representative to the world - the representative of British architects everywhere.

And just in case you're thinking this might all have been just an innocent dabble in one of the more un-PC parties; it isn't. Phillips is not a silent member like you might be in the Labour or Conservative parties. He's been active ever since joining the BNP five years ago. In 2004 he stood as a councillor; this much is official.

The AJ also understands that he was keen to stand as a member of parliament in the 2005 general election, before his candidacy was killed off for personal reasons.

Here are Phillips' thoughts, on his website, on being exposed as a BNP member:

'I am not standing on behalf of the BNP. No-one in the BNP knew I was standing until about 10 days ago, so there is no question of it being underhand 'entryism' by the BNP, as the media is also claiming. I am standing on behalf of practitioners at the coalface.'

Fair enough. But then scroll further down his website, to his views on the neutral and perfectly reasonable survey into the reasons behind the small proportion of females in the profession: the 2004 Why Women Leave Architecture report:

He says: '[The report's] remit is nothing more than social engineering. That it is certainly not the role of the RIBA and it is Portland Place indulging in this and other irrelevancies that, I believe, has led to further disillusionment of many practitioners with the RIBA.

'I challenged the rigorousness of the academic research on which it was based, and the validity of its 114 'recommendations', many of which I considered, and still consider, to be racist, sexist, and ageist, ' he added.

And there is more. Printed above is a photo of a rally featuring BNP organisers campaigning during the 2004 London mayoral election.

Phillips is circled. Also featured in the photo is BNP mayoral candidate Julian Leppart (in the white jacket). Visible over Leppart's left shoulder is Richard Edmunds, a former National Front leading light, who was once convicted of grievous bodily harm. And standing behind Leppart's right shoulder is Richard Barnbrook, the BNP's London leader, who made headlines recently after it emerged that in a previous guise he had produced and directed a male-only erotic lm (which he denies was gay porn).

Others pictured include a long-term BNP activist known as 'Pissy Dave'. These are the people with whom Phillips has chosen to associate himself.

It is also worth taking the time to consider a few of the things the BNP stands for. This is from their 2005 manifesto.

On immigration: 'Figures for unemployment, welfare dependency, educational failure, and other social pathologies tell a similar story for most other foreign ethnic groups. There is simply no escaping the fact that choosing to admit such persons into the country in signfiicant numbers means choosing to become a poorer, more violent, more dependent and worse-educated society.'

It is very clear that this situation is not a joke; this is an emergency. Go and rummage through the unopened RIBA post in the recycling pile and find your ballot paper. Scrawl a cross next to either Valerie Owen or Sunand Prasad It doesn't matter which.

Let's prove Prasad right when he says that Phillips' views are shared by 'just a minuscule minority of the profession'.

The three candidates' websites:

www. sunandprasad. co. uk

www. valerieowen. com

www. peterphillips-riba.co. uk

The AJ has contacted both Sunand Prasad and Valerie Owen to enquire about their political afiations. Both say they do not have any.

THE LIFE OF PETER PHILLIPS 1945 Born 1970 Qualies as an architect at Newcastle University School of Architecture 1971 Voluntary Service Overseas in Kenya 2001 Joins the British National Party (BNP) 2003 Stands as BNP candidate for Reigate and Banstead council, knocking Labour into fourth place 2003 Wins election to RIBA council as a national councillor 2005 Reportedly attempts to stand as BNP candidate for parliamentary seat 2006 Announces intention to run for the RIBA presidency

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