Below is the national press release:
BNP electoral rise halted by head-on anti-fascist campaigning
Trade union leaders, celebrities and community leaders respond to results
Anti-fascist campaigners today welcomed the failure of the BNP to win significantly more council seats, but warned against any complacency. They called on all anti-racists and democrats who oppose fascism to unite in a renewed effort to drive the BNP back. Despite standing more than double the number of candidates and anticipating a massive breakthrough, results so far show the BNP has only gained one net seat – from 49 to 50 seats.
The BNP lost eight of its nine council seats up for re-election – three in Burnley, and one in Calderdale, Stoke on Trent, Bradford, South Holland and Broxbourne. It gained three new seats in both Leicestershire and Stoke on Trent and one in Staffordshire, Bradford and Broxtowe.
In key BNP target areas such as Thurrock in Essex, Wakefield in Yorkshire and Dudley and Sandwell in the West Midlands amongst others, the BNP was blocked from winning seats. This was in large part due to campaigns that challenged head-on the BNP`s racist lies about multiculturalism, immigrants, asylum seekers and Muslims and encouraged a vote instead for legitimate political parties.
The climate of heightened racism has allowed the BNP to win votes in a wider geographical area than ever before. Alarmingly, in Wales, the BNP polled high votes in some regions as a result of a particularly vicious campaign including a party political broadcast whipping up racism against migrants and refugees.
The BNP are anticipated to be defeated in Scotland. There was a cross-party campaign that was supported by trade unionists and community groups, to defend multiculturalism and challenge their targeting of asylum seekers and migrants.
Campaigners warned against complacency. The BNP will seek to advance onto the national political stage in the next couple of years. They will target the London assembly in 2008 and the 2009 European Parliamentary elections.
Brendan Barber , TUC General Secretary said:
“It looks like the BNP has failed to make the breakthrough that was feared and this is down in part to all the hard work undertaken by trade union members and anti-far right campaigners over the past few months. But one BNP councillor is a BNP councillor too many. We must continue to campaign against parties of the far right who seek to spread fear and intimidation and disrupt our many diverse communities across the UK .“
Richard Archer, Lead Singer of Hard-Fi said:
“The BNP have once again tried to use misinformation and distortion in an attempt to deceive the British public. Hard-Fi wish to state our continued opposition to the BNP and continued support for Love Music Hate Racism and the fight against racism and fascism.“
Glyn Ford MEP said:
We have won this battle against the fascist BNP. The war against the poison of the BNP will to continue.
Dr. Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said:
The BNP is a racist, fascist organisation, which openly tries to whip up dangerous hostility towards Muslims for electoral gain. The MCB is proud to
have worked with a diverse range of organisations in order to mobilise Muslim and non-Muslim voters across the country to vote against the BNP`s
policies of hatred and division. We pledge to redouble our efforts with Unite Against Fascism, and all fellow British people who value democracy,
to ensure that fascism is defeated.
Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the Scottish TUC said:
“The people of Scotland have given a clear message today that they reject racism and fascism. The BNP and their vile politics of hatred, lies and misinformation, has not been allowed to infect Scottish politics“.
Felicity Williams, Wales TUC General Secretary said:
“The Welsh electorate have sent a clear message to fascist groups and have resoundingly voted to keep the BNP out of national politics in Wales. It is a victory for democracy over extremists who peddle fear and suspicion and demonstrates that there is no place for them in Wales. The Wales TUC has been working with Assembly candidates across Wales to ensure that campaigning is free of any racial or religious prejudice, inviting them to commit to the development of Wales as a thriving, multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-racial society.
Weyman Bennett, Joint National Secretary Unite Against Fascism said:
The BNP was halted by the thousands of anti fascist activist, trade unionists, and faith groups who fought against the lies of the Nazis. We cannot be complacent or rest on our laurels of victory. The fascist BNP stood on such a large geographical area to establish themselves in preparation for the euro elections. We now need a huge national campaign backed by local activity to make sure we continue to prevent the fascists from making a breakthrough.
Denis Fernando, Joint National Secretary of Unite Against Fascism said:
`This result shows that when the BNP is strongly opposed in a united broad campaign, it can be stopped. It has failed to make the breakthrough it craved in these elections, but along the way it has whipped up racism and division. It is no surprise that its largest vote in Wales was in Wrexham, where it ran a campaign attacking refugees and migrants, off the back of the riots of 2003 when asylum seekers were assaulted and racists were convicted for violence. The BNP`s electoral failure this May must be used by all those who oppose fascism as a springboard to drive the fascist party back in the 2008 elections.“
Unite Against Fascism
Unite Against Fascism is a national campaign challenging the electoral rise of the fascist British National Party (BNP). It is a broad coalition of those opposed to fascism, chaired by Ken Livingstone, supported by the major national trade unions and bringing together Black, Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities, lesbian and gay activists, MPs and MEPs.
The BNP a dangerous fascist party – not a normal political party
The BNP was founded following a split form the openly Nazi organisation the National Front. The BNP`s aim is an all-white Britain, which could only be achieved through violence and an end to democratic freedoms.
The BNP leader Nick Griffin was given a two-year suspended sentence for distributing material likely to incite racial hatred, following his denial of the reality of the Holocaust.
Last year, a Channel 5 documentary showed how the BNP receives money from the sale of neo-Nazi music and fundraiser events. BBC`s Panorama programme BNP: Under the Skin documentary exposed the BNP`s criminality and excerpts from what Nick Griffin has said and written over the years, exposing his fascist views.