Matthew Tempest, Guardian (London), Sep. 17
The openly-racist British National party last night won its first council seat in the capital since 1993, with a landslide victory in an east London borough.
In a byelection last night, the far-right party’s candidate, Daniel Kelley, gained from Labour with a 470 majority at Barking and Dagenham Council’s Goresbrook ward. The BNP had not fought the seat in the borough’s last polls in 2002.
Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London and chairman of Unite Against Fascism, warned that the party was now a “bigger threat then ever”.
He said: “The BNP is a fascist party. Wherever they are elected racist violence increases. Every concession to racism or Islamophobia by mainstream parties assists the BNP.
“These results show the BNP is now a bigger threat then ever before. Every progressive Londoner should wake up and join the movement to stop the BNP because they threaten everything which makes London such a wonderful diverse city.”
The BNP already has three seats on Epping Forest district council, which it won in June this year, but this is within the home county of Essex rather than the capital.
The council seat falls within the parliamentary constituency of the current minister for children and former Islington council leader, Margaret Hodge.
The result will be of concern for race relations campaigners and will trouble the mainstream parties as this is the party’s first win in the capital since 1993, when Derek Beacon briefly won a seat in the Isle of Dogs.
It comes amid earlier signs that the party’s support had been hit after an in-depth TV documentary in the summer. A BBC undercover reporter infiltrated the BNP in Bradford, finding men who boasted of posting dog faeces through the letterboxes of Pakistani Britons, and using a bazooka against mosques.
Operation Black Vote’s campaign manager, Ashok Viswanathan, warned today that anti-racism campaigners must “redouble their efforts”.
“We’ve got to fight the fascists all the time — not just at general elections,” he told Guardian Unlimited.
“All politics is local, and we’ve got to keep our eyes on the prize. It’s very disappointing that the BNP has won a seat in a metropolitan area, but it shows that the BNP are organised and in our town halls and we’ve got to fight them.”
Results in full:
Barking and Dagenham London Borough Goresbrook:
UK Independence party 137
Lib Dems 85