Geoff Fox, Leeds Today (UK), April 27, 2006
Emmerdale stars have thrown their weight behind a campaign to stop people voting for the far-right British National Party in next week’s local elections.
Actors from the ITV1 soap took part in a photo shoot at Unison’s regional headquarters in Leeds last night to highlight what they believe are “evil” policies being touted by the party.
John Middleton, who plays Rev Ashley Thomas, approached Unison on behalf of a number of cast members to ask if they could support the union’s campaign, which will see posters published in newspapers from tomorrow with the slogan Lives shattered: racial hatred destroys lives.
John told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It was an obvious decision (to back the campaign) for me. I’ve campaigned against the BNP for a number of years. I’m dismayed they are being so active in targeting people, playing on people’s genuine grievances but giving lies about what those problems might be. I find it disgusting.”
He added: “The BNP is the only political party I know motivated solely by hate. Racial hatred destroys lives, it destroys communities and it causes riots.”
John was joined by Ursula Holden Gill, who plays cancer-stricken Alice Dingle, Graeme Hawley, the show’s DC Crowe, Nick Miles, who plays Jimmy King, and Charlie Hardwick who plays Val Lambert.
Nick said: “It’s time to remind people how evil this party is. If people start believing their lies we’re in for a lot of trouble.”
And Ursula explained how she and her co-stars were happy to ditch the glamour of showbiz life to take part in the hard-hitting campaign: “I’m from Blackburn where, alarmingly, the BNP have been taken quite seriously. That’s why it was important today to come along and be counted.”
Charlie added: “Hopefully someone will see my picture, think ‘I know her face’ and look at the message that we are trying to get through. I’m fundamentally opposed to anything based on hatred, bullying and lies.”
The stars’ involvement comes a day after a YouGov poll found that a majority of people back the BNP’s ideas, but disowned the policies once they were associated with the party.
Unison’s regional secretary, Cliff Williams, said: “It is to the personal credit of the individual members of the cast who are well-known and high profile actors that they are prepared to commit themselves publicly to a campaign which seeks to defend everyone’s rights by supporting equal opportunities and fighting racist abuse.
“Our campaign does not tell people who they should vote for but rather who not to vote for. The great British electorate will vote for parties which support equality and fairness. They know as we do that there is no place for racism in our society or those who advocate racist policies.”