A decision to make Perth the venue to kickstart the British National Party’s Holyrood campaign was condemned yesterday.
A shocked trade union member claimed the Fair City’s reputation had been tarnished after it was chosen by the BNP for the launch of their manifesto for the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections.
BNP election candidates and other members gathered in the Royal George Hotel on Sunday for the event, then some of the 32 candidates being fielded by the party – four in each of the Scottish regions – posed in sunshine on the River Tay viewing platform.
Yet on the day members of the far-right party were basking in the “excellent” speeches made during the launch, the national press highlighted that the BNP had been reported to the Electoral Commission over a campaign leaflet which falsely claims there are more Muslims in the UK than Scots.
The press also reported that a pamphlet put through letterboxes across Scotland stated the BNP would put an end to mosque-building and were warning of a “flood” of Eastern European immigrants about to arrive in Scotland.
The BNP’s Perth event was not widely reported in the media, but it did not go unnoticed by active trade union member David McPhee.
“I was dismayed to discover that after a clandestine operation the British National Party chose Perth as the location for them to launch their Scottish manifesto,” said Mr McPhee, who went on to slam the Royal George Hotel for taking the booking.
“As an active trade union member and someone who has campaigned locally on a number of anti-racist initiatives I find it shocking that any local business could see fit to host such an abhorrent political party for the launch of their manifesto.
“Presumably the clandestine nature of their launch was to avoid the sort of protests which usually follow them around and which forced them to cancel their original planned manifesto launch in Falkirk last month.
“Unfortunately it seems they found a complicit business in Perth to allow them to do so.”
The BNP website reports the manifesto launch “was held in a top hotel in Perth, where we were welcomed very warmly indeed.”
It goes on to say “excellent” speeches were given by BNP Scottish organiser Gary Raikes and two election candidates, and adds: “We had one of the youngest members and one of our eldest Scottish members in attendance which was so emotional as they both gave speeches to the British National Party Scotland’s Manifesto launch.”
The website adds that the BNP handed out leaflets to passers-by before party supporters, “headed back to our respective homes to reflect on history being made, we have just launched the Manifesto that will get us into Holyrood!”
Mr McPhee laments that history did not repeat itself: “I understand that in 1936 the BNP’s forerunners – Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts – were effectively chased out of Perth with their tails between their legs.
“I wonder what our forefathers who had the courage of their convictions to do so would think of this damaging association which I believe has tarnished Perth’s reputation as the Fair City?”