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Friday, 6 May 2011

BNP suffers election meltdown (UK)

The British National party appears to be heading for meltdown at the polls after being wiped out in its key target city of Stoke-on-Trent and securing only one seat on councils to have declared so far.

The extreme rightwing party has been hit by vicious infighting over the last year, with a string of senior figures defecting amid growing concern over the state of its finances.

It only managed to field around 250 candidates in Thursday's local elections – compared to approximately 700 in the equivalent poll in 2007 – and its only victory so far has come in Queensbury, West Yorkshire.

The BNP has so far lost seven of the 11 council seats it was defending, with three still to declare.

In Stoke-on-Trent, it lost all five of its sitting councillors. It also appeared to have failed in Wales, where it had predicted a breakthrough in the run-up to the vote.

The BNP spokesman, Simon Darby, refused to comment on the results, saying "there was no point". Anti-racist campaigners said the results were disastrous for the party.

"Nick Griffin is now in a really parlous position," said Nick Lowles from Hope not Hate, which has mobilised thousands of anti-racist campaigners in the past few weeks.

"The British National party as a political force now appears to be finished ... it has such huge debts that even the rebels who are openly opposed to Griffin have realised it is not worth taking over."

The BNP reached a high water mark in 2009 when Griffin and Andrew Brons were elected to the European parliament but, in the past 18 months, its support has imploded.

Dozens of prominent figures have either been suspended or have resigned, and in recent weeks it emerged that around 15 former members had defected and were planning to stand for the rival English Democrats.

Insiders say they predict further walkouts and defections in the coming days.

The Guardian