BNP to contest every seat in council elections

THE far-right British National Party is standing for every single seat in the forthcoming elections for Essex County Council.The county is the first and only in the UK to have a full slate of BNP candidates - a total of 75 - meaning every single Essex voter will have the opportunity to vote for the party.

Roddy Ashworth

THE far-right British National Party is standing for every single seat in the forthcoming elections for Essex County Council.

The county is the first and only in the UK to have a full slate of BNP candidates - a total of 75 - meaning every single Essex voter will have the opportunity to vote for the party.

And yesterday leaders of all three main political groups at county hall - Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives - condemned the move and urged residents to vote in the poll, which is to be held on June 4.

BNP activists are currently targeting Essex, with the party's “truth truck” appearing in Colchester at the weekend and members canvassing in the town's High Street.

The party also leafleted properties in residential areas of the town, including the garrison estate.

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Yesterday Eddy Butler, the party's regional organiser for the East of England, claimed the BNP had a good organisational structure in the county and around 700 paid-up members.

“We have got some good wards in Essex. We have a good chance is some areas, such as Basildon, Rochford and Castle Point.

“There may also be a surprise in Clacton and Tendring, because a lot of people have moved there from the Dagenham area.

“We have got specific policies on everything. We feel the main parties don't really represent the people.”

Some mainstream politicians currently fear that with the current expenses crisis in Westminster, many people have been put off the political process and may not bother turning up at the polling stations in the upcoming elections, or that they may choose a smaller party such as the BNP to register a protest vote.

Yesterday Conservative Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield, said he was concerned at the BNP “incursion” and warned that they stood for intolerance and hatred.

“I hope they do not expect to find Essex to be fertile BNP ground,” he said.

“All three major parties and the greens stand for fairness and inclusiveness and I am sure the leaders of the other groups will stand firm on that.

“The BNP trade on peoples' fears rather than facing up to the issues.”

The Liberal Democrat group leader at County Hall, Tom Smith-Hughes, said: “The BNP play on prejudice and fear. They offer simplistic solutions which are dishonest, dangerous, divisive and don't solve anything.

“I just hope and believe the electorate will give them short shrift. I think their brand of politics mitigates against a free, fair tolerant and united society.”

And Labour group leader Paul Kirkman said: “This is very regrettable. I think that people from across the mainstream political spectrum agree on that.

“I despise what they stand for. Theirs is a message of hate and intolerance and blaming people, rather than trying to work things out.

“People only need to look at history to see where their sort of politics leads.”