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Friday, 7 May 2010

Nick Griffin concedes defeat as BNP fails to take Barking from Labour

British National Party leader Nick Griffin last night conceded defeat in his high profile bid to win a Parliamentary seat in east London, some two hours ahead of the count being complete.

He was taking on Labour minister Margaret Hodge in Barking, where his far-right party has 12 councillors, and had devoted much of his organisation's resources to winning votes from white working class Labour supporters worried by a surge in immigration.

Interviewed at 2am however, Griffin - who has a seat in the European Parliament - said: 'I'm being realistic. Margaret Hodge is clearly going to hold the seat.'
He went on: 'The real prize is the council. Had we had a normal turnout I'm quite confident we'd have taken the council.'

Votes for Barking and Dagenham borough council are due to be counted later today.

Bizarrely, Griffin suggested that Labour were going to win unfairly purely because they had managed to encourage a high turnout in Barking, which he said disadvantaged the BNP.

Responding to BBC TV footage from Wednesday which showed a BNP campaigner fighting in the streets of Barking with Asian youths after one spat at him, Griffin claimed the mainstream parties had encouraged attacks on his supporters.
The BNP leader famously once called for the cause of nationalism to be advanced with the aid of 'well-directed boots and fists'.

But she conceded that the surge of immigration into the borough - which she suggested resulted from half of local council houses being sold under right-to-buy, and many then being rented out to other councils to house homeless immigrants - had led to concerns.

Unemployment, largely resulting from the local Ford factory reducing staffing from 40,000 to 4,000 in recent decades, had also worried residents, she said.

Mrs Hodge said: 'My wake up call came in 2006 when the BNP succeeded in getting seats on the council, and I realised then that I had to change what I was doing, and the Labour Party locally had to change.

'Local people here have real needs and real concerns about the pace of change with immigration.

'You can either take those issues and exploit them for evil purposes, which is what the extreme right is trying to do, or respond to legitimate needs and fears in a positive way, and build a strong community for everybody, whatever their background.'
Mrs Hodge remained anxious however to defeat the BNP strongly. In 2005 the BNP only narrowly missed out on coming second, with the Tories beating them into third place by just 27 votes - and Mr Griffin remained hopeful he would come second last night.
Daily Mail