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Monday, 12 April 2010

Elections 2010: BNP hopes hit by candidate drought (UK)

THE British National Party's plans to make decisive gains at the polls are in disarray after only four new city council candidates came forward.

The far-right party has nominated just six members for the May 6 local elections in Stoke-on-Trent – and that includes two councillors defending their seats.
It follows the high-profile resignations of former BNP group leader Councillor Alby Walker and his councillor wife Ellie. Their decision to become independents reduced the BNP contingent to seven councillors, and left just one far-right member in the Abbey Green ward.
Group leader Councillor Michael Coleman admitted he felt let down over the election nominations.

Twenty of the council's 60 members are up for re-election next month, before every councillor goes to the polls next year.
Mr Coleman said: "I approached about 25 people who were all interested in standing. But because they would only be elected for one year many of them felt it was too big a commitment.

"I have had a bit of a falling-out with people over this and it has caused a rift within the group.
"We thought we would be able to put up about 14 candidates this year.

"The Alby Walker situation has also damaged us to a degree, as some of the people who would have stood for us have left because they feel he has been treated badly."
However, Mr Coleman remains bullish. He said: "We have people in the wards where we want to have a presence and we also have three Parliamentary candidates in the city, which is really good."
Mr Coleman also rejected suggestions that the newly-emerged England First Party may undermine BNP support in key wards, including Weston and Meir North, where deputy BNP group leader Councillor Anthony Simmonds is fighting to keep his seat.

Mr Coleman said: "I think it is just vengeful hatred from former members directed against myself and possibly a few others in the BNP. They are out to try to damage us, but they won't stop us."
Professor Mick Temple, politics lecturer at Staffordshire University, is sceptical about Mr Coleman's excuses and believes the far-right party has had its day in the city.
He said: "I think the low number of nominations demonstrates that the BNP's support is not as strong within the community as they maintain.
"If they really were challenging the mainstream parties then you would have thought they would be putting up some decent candidates, particularly as a General Election always generates a much higher turnout."

He added: "I think they have been hurt by the Alby Walker issue, as he was seen by many as the more acceptable face of the BNP."
Mr Walker, who is fighting BNP deputy leader Simon Darby for the Stoke-on-Trent Central Parliamentary seat and defending his Abbey Green council seat, said : "It's a poor show to only find six candidates. It shows I really was the backbone of that group, and that they are in decline now."

This is Staffordshire