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No Pasaran Youth against Racism in Europe magazine: Issue 11, Summer 2003
The local elections in May 2003 were the biggest ever success for the BNP. They won 13 council seats, bringing the total number of councillors up to 16 (two of the five seats they had won during the previous year were up for election).
The BNP won 2 seats in Sandwell, one in Dudley, one in Stoke-on-Trent, one in Broxbourne and another seat in Calderdale to add to their existing one (though in a different ward).
In Burnley the BNP went from three to eight councillors, and briefly became the official opposition to Labour, who control the council. Just over six weeks later the Liberal Democrats won a by-election, increasing their councillors from seven to eight, even with the BNP.
Nick Griffin, the BNP leader claimed that the BNP were on their way to winning control of Burnley council. The BNP made large gains in Burnley, getting just over 200 votes less than Labour across the whole council. However if you look at the figures closely, the BNP vote in Burnley also dropped from 9,984 (an average vote of 768) in May 2002 to 8,563 (an average vote of 659) in May 2003.
In the two seats the BNP won in May 2002, where you would have expected an increased vote if the BNP were building solid support, their vote also fell.
However the BNP were able to win far more seats because the vote of the main parties collapsed even further - in some seats Labour's vote dropped by around a third. Not surprising, given that Burnley's Labour Council has carried on with the same unpopular policies that gave the BNP the chance to grow in the first place. Just before the local elections they pushed through £1 million worth of cuts in services (including compulsory redundancies, cuts in leisure services and withdrawing grants from most voluntary groups over a period of three years) at the same time as increasing council tax.
As we explain elsewhere (see pages 2-4), we cannot depend on the main parties to help us defeat the BNP. We need to build a mass movement and a new alternative to halt the BNP's growth.
BNP total votes
In England, the BNP got over 90,000 votes standing in 218 council wards (an average of 420 in each ward). In Wales the only BNP candidate to stand for the Welsh Assembly got 2,310 votes (2%). In Scotland, the BNP’s only council candidate (in East Ayrshire) got 73 votes (5%).
Other far-right votes
National Front candidates got a total vote of 1,860 standing in ten wards (nine in England and one in Scotland); an average vote of 186 per ward.
The Freedom Party, a split off from the BNP, won one councillor in South Staffordshire (a Tory council). They got a total of 2,613 votes in five wards in the Midlands; an average of 523 votes in each ward.
The Third Way got 298 votes in the one ward they stood in.
BNP votes in Burnley
*means BNP councillor elected.
In 2003 the Labour Party got 8785 votes (standing 16 candidates in 15 seats; an average of 549 votes per seat). The BNP got 8563 (standing 13 candidates in 13 seats; an average of 659 votes per seat).