AS transformations go, it's a stark change.

William McLachlan is now active in the Labour party and Unite the union - for his workplace branch he is treasurer, learning rep and even equalities rep.

But the 56-year-old was not always on the left of the political spectrum. In fact, he was once a member of the BNP.

While the British National Party might call to mind images of skin heads and fascist anti-immigration rhetoric, William said that in his time the Glasgow branch it was full of normal people.

He said: "There were school teachers and nurses there, just ordinary people.

"At the meetings there were about 50 people and they came from the whole of the country, over from Edinburgh and down from Aberdeen.

"Believe it or not, it was normal people speaking about normal things.

"When they spoke about immigration it was as a whole, not just black or white, but as a whole. I used to believe we had to get our own house in order before inviting anyone else in.

"A wee bit selfish, I believe now."

William first became involved in politics as a boy, helping the Labour party by putting leaflets through doors in his close and in the street.

When he reached 18 and went to vote for the first time, an election agent for Labour approached him and said 'You know who you're voting for, don't you?'

William said: "And I thought, 'You don't tell me who to vote.'

"I'd been delivering leaflets for this party until the Wednesday night before the election.

"But I said, 'I'm going to vote Tory.' My mum thought I was kidding but I didn't want to be bossed into anything."

When two women who lived nearby suggested he go with them to join the Tory party, his youthful stubbornness meant he said yes.

Labour was forgotten and he became chairman of the local branch, although he says there were only about half a dozen turning up to meetings.

With the Tory party being quite quiet, William then joined the Scottish Unionists. "I've had more parties than Rod Stewart," he said.

After a while with pro-unionist group, an old school friend suggested William try the BNP.

At first, he said, everything was fine with the group. It was full of seemingly respectable people.

William said: "If you look at the BNP as a whole, they've got Labour policies, they've got Tory policies, and they've even, believe it or not, got some Green Party policies.

"They had a bit of everything.

"But it became somewhere that I didn't want to go."

William met the party leader Nick Griffin several times and said he had a "huge ego".

He said: "He didn't say any bad things, just 'they'. 'They' are invading our country, 'they' are taking our jobs. But he would never say who 'they' are.

"He was shrewd. He was all for show - look at me, I'm a decent guy."

William had signed up to stand as a local councillor for the East End of Glasgow in 2000 but, he said, in the run up to the election things began to change.

New people started turning up at meetings and the real face of the BNP emerged.

He said: "Certain people started to arrive on the scene and certain terminology got used that made me feel really uncomfortable.

"Black people were being called certain names. Gay people got called certain things that made me really uncomfortable.

"I thought, 'This isn't for me.'

"But this was leading up to the election. My name was down, the forms are in and the election is a week away but it was getting more and more mental.

"All this hatred was coming out and I thought 'I can't go in to the City Chambers and be representing this stuff, this hardcore of people, this hatred they were starting to spew."

William said the day of the election came and he found he couldn't vote for himself. He voted Elaine McDougall for number one, Frank Docherty second and put himself down third.

The experience made him disillusioned with politics and he took a back seat for the next few years.

In 2014 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and spend a length of time in hospital.

Seeing the NHS close up and seeing how stretched the service is made William want to re-engage with politics and so he went back to Labour.

He said: "When I went to the first Labour meeting Elaine McDougall was there and her jaw dropped to the floor.

"She was saying to other people, 'Do you know who that is? He's the BNP.'"

But William managed to win them round.

He added: "Most people don't bother and I don't know if people don't want to say anything but you can hear people talking.

"You hear people saying of them now, of Britain First, that they're all racist and that's what people would have thought of me then.

"I've never been a racist. I think back and I think, 'You did make a big mistake there, joining that crowd.'"

There has only been one incident that caused William bother.

In 2008 the BNP membership list was leaked and William's name was on it.

He works for a university and had used his work email address. At the same time, a head engineer at Cambridge University had been outed as a BNP member and there were calls for him to be sacked.

William says his bosses were very fair and he explained that his BNP days were long behind him.

He believes his experience shows how people can become caught up in far right politics.

He said: "They pick up the problems on the street and tap into what are people saying.

"So, where there are concerns about immigrants and asylum seekers, they say they're stealing jobs, which is rubbish. They say they're here stealing off the state, which is also rubbish.

"The Jews came here fleeing the atrocities in Europe after World War II and we welcomed them.

"People are fleeing atrocities now yet not everyone seems to be able to welcome them and understand that they are also fleeing atrocities.

"We have some high profile cases at the moment in Glasgow of wee Giorji and the two Pakistani brothers, Somer and Areebs.

"The BNP wouldn't tell you their side of the story. They would twist it and an ordinary guy in the street could believe them.

"Once you started digging a wee bit deeper and that tone of language, that is the real crowd.

"That is the crowd everybody thinks about and they appeared at meetings eventually but they weren't there at the start."

He added: "It was a huge mistake. But I've come full circle now. Those days are well behind me."