Monday, April 17, 2006
In the run up to the UK's May local elections, attention has again been drawn to the British National Party (BNP). Party spokesman and councillor candidate for the Fulham Broadway area of London Steven Tyler stated "Now we are a party with sensible policies which have made us much more electable than in the past,"
The BNP local election manifesto of April 14 outlined the party's commitment to environmental and tax reforms, with a focus on a zero-tolerance campaign against anti-social behaviour and the removal of what the BNP sees as preferential treatment of asylum seekers.
The party has said it will field a total of 365 candidates for local authority seats in the May 4 elections. Currently the BNP has 15 councillors across England and stated at its campaign launch that it intends to add "another 15 or 20" seats.
Research undertaken on behalf of The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has indicated that up to 25% of people have said that "they might" vote for the BNP. MPs from mainstream parties have admitted that they need to face the challenge presented by the BNP in the May 4 election.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat members have suggested that disillusionment with the government is to blame for the current findings of the report.
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith told BBC radio 4's Today program that the BNPs message was gaining headway in disadvantaged areas and identified that “What we have picked up in these very difficult communities is the collapse in the quality of life for so many people". Duncan Smith went on to say, "The whole sense of the quality of life in these communities has become a rich feeding ground for people who want to stigmatise others as being the cause of this."
"If voters are unhappy with conventional parties, one of the key reasons is because successive Tory and Labour governments have failed to provide enough affordable housing where families wish to live," commented Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes. He added that voters should not be taken in by the “simplistic promises” of the BNP.
== Sources ==
"Parties face up to BNP challenge" — BBC News, April 17, 2006
"More 'consider voting for BNP'" — BBC News, April 17, 2006
"BNP launches election manifesto" — Associated New Media, April 15, 2006
"British National Party Council Election Manifesto 2006" — British National Party, April 14, 2006