Ex-BNP men hold balance in Blackburn with Darwen


[see reports by the Lancashire Evening Telegraph and BBC News]

Two former British National Party members, including Trevor ‘Max’ Maxfield the former BNP organiser for Blackburn with Darwen, now hold the balance of power on Blackburn with Darwen council and are expected to put Labour back into office in this racially divided East Lancashire borough.

Cllr Maxfield (who was BNP branch organiser for the area in 2003-4) and fellow Earcroft ward councillor Anthony Meleady (also ex-BNP) were elected as members of the For Darwen Party, which campaigned for the town of Darwen to have its own council rather than being dictated to by its larger neighbour Blackburn. For Darwen was always a peculiar coalition, led by local millionaire and former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Tony Melia.

Even after achieving their aim of a Darwen Town Council, the party’s representatives remained on the overall Blackburn with Darwen Council, where they came to hold the balance of power and joined a coalition with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, forcing Labour into opposition in the area for the first time.

Only a few weeks ago Cllr Maxfield became a member of the Borough’s Executive alongside his then allies in the Conservative and Lib Dem parties. However he quickly became the focus of local protests after being made responsible for implementing cutbacks, including the closure of the Shadsworth leisure centre in one of Blackburn’s most deprived neighbourhoods.

This week Cllr Maxfield quit the Executive (and the For Darwen Party) and joined Labour, where he expected to be followed by his former BNP colleague Cllr Meleady. They argued that conscience would not allow them to push through the Tory/LibDem budget cuts.

For the time being Cllr Maxfield remains leader of the Darwen Town Council, but his former allies are set to oust him since the Maxfield-Meleady block and Labour combined will not control sufficient votes to keep him in power at town council level even though they will probably take control of the overall Blackburn with Darwen Borough. Ironically another former BNP organiser in Blackburn, Nick Holt last year joined the Conservative Party but was not allowed to become a Tory candidate because of his BNP past.

Many observers are now predicting a collapse of the For Darwen and Liberal Democrat parties at next year’s elections and a big swing to Labour, but what must Blackburn’s large Asian population make of this strange turn of events? More importantly, will any political party address the obscene waste in Britain’s defence spending on wars that have nothing to do with our national interest, leaving national and local government unable to pay for essential public services?

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