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BNP anti-immigrant agenda gets a boost

BNP?s demand to stop non-white immigration got a shot in the arm when the party won its 17th council seat in a by-election.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 12:22 IST

The far-right British National Party (BNP) is gaining more support for its policy of stopping "all further non-white immigration" and encouraging voluntary resettlement of Britain's non-whites in "their lands of ethnic origin".

The party, which made waves in the 2001 general election by polling a substantial percentage, won another council by-election on Thursday, to gain its 17th local council seat in England.

BNP candidate David Exley defeated Tabassum Aslam of the Liberal Democrats in the Heckmondwike by-election for Kirklees council in West Yorkshire.

Formed by John Tyndall in 1982, the BNP now has more than 100 branches across the country. It has spread from traditional support bases in London and the West Midlands to small towns in Wales, the West Country, the Pennines, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The party's leader is Cambridge law graduate Nick Griffin, who took over in September 1999.

In 2001, Griffin stood for the seat of Oldham West and Royton, where racial tension had led to rioting only weeks earlier, and won 16.4 per cent of the vote. He has a conviction for inciting racial hatred.

As Exley left the counting hall on Thursday evening, about 50 demonstrators shouting anti-Nazi slogans greeted him.

The council leader, councillor Kath Pinnock, a Liberal Democrat, said, "People were frustrated by difficulties in the area and have shown their frustrations by voting BNP."

The Labour candidate came fourth. Its local chairman Ian McCartney said that his party now had to redouble its efforts in the area to win the support of local people.

He said, "We ran a good campaign and had a strong candidate. Nasty, extremist and racist, the BNP got in narrowly on the back of empty promises and bogus respectability."

However, BNP candidate Exley said, "I was talking common sense, it's as simple as that."

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST