Nationalist election preview 2012

ballot-boxes-460_1418302cTen years ago the BNP made its first election breakthrough in East Lancashire, paving the way for the election of Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons to the European Parliament and shaking the political establishment.  A decade later the party is on the brink of collapse and the future of nationalism in our country is more uncertain than at any time since 1979.  What are the short-term prospects for the local elections on May 3rd?

Across England numerous BNP council seats are up for re-election, some of which have already been forfeited by resignations or defections.  The highest profile of these (and the only one with any realistic chance of re-election) is Sharon Wilkinson, the last remaining BNP councillor in Burnley.  Her council ward in Hapton with Park once had three BNP councillors: but it is quite likely that after polling day on 3rd May there will be fewer BNP councillors in the whole of the United Kingdom than there once were in this single ward! Little wonder that Cllr Wilkinson has already made overtures to other nationalist parties, and attended a National Front event in Bacup, Lancashire, in January this year.  A forthcoming meeting in Burnley on March 10th will build a viable post-Griffin future for nationalism in the town.

Another high profile councillor due to defend her seat is the BNP’s only Jewish elected representative, Mrs Patricia Richardson, who won 40% of the vote in Loughton Broadway, Epping Forest, in 2008 having previously represented a different Epping Forest ward, Loughton Fairmead from 2004 to 2008.  The main BNP election strategist in those years, Eddy Butler, has since defected to the English Democrats, and it is difficult to see the much depleted BNP managing to re-elect Mrs Richardson this year.

The two BNP councillors in Amber Valley, Derbyshire, have fallen out both with their party leader and with each other.  Cllr Cliff Roper in Heanor East is a supporter of the BNP rebel faction led by Andrew Brons MEP, while Cllr Lewis Allsebrook in Heanor West initially backed Nick Griffin as one of the ten signatories on the party chairman’s nomination paper last year, but quit the party at the end of February 2012 amid rumours that he was negotiating defection to the Conservative Party.  The baffled voters of Heanor are treated to a blog on which Cllr Allsebrook spends virtually all his time attacking his (now former) BNP colleague Cllr Roper.  It’s now likely that only Cllr Roper will be seeking re-election on 3rd May, when Labour will presumably take both of these Heanor wards.

Cllr Adam Grant faces re-election in what on paper is the BNP’s strongest ward in the country, Marsden ward, Pendle.  He took 39% here in 2008 but will be confronted by tough campaigns from both Labour and the Conservatives.  Fellow councillor Brian Parker attended the nationalist unity meeting in Bradford addressed by Andrew Brons and EFP representatives on 4th February, and is likely to be one of only two BNP borough councillors left in the whole country later this year, the other being arch-Griffinite Cathy Duffy in Charnwood.

Martyn Findley has been a notably active councillor for Barpool ward, Nuneaton & Bedworth, but resigned from the BNP last summer.  It’s far from clear which party he will stand for in May, or whether he will seek re-election as an independent – never an easy task, even for an energetic patriot such as Cllr Findley, who also faces a tight three-way contest where both Labour and the Conservatives will aim to unseat him.

Similarly Cllr Tom Bates in Illingworth & Mixenden ward, Calderdale – who was the last remaining BNP councillor in the former stronghold of West Yorkshire – quit the party last autumn and is now sitting as an independent.  There has been speculation that due to work and family commitments Cllr Bates might not contest the 2012 election.

In Rotherham the BNP’s only remaining South Yorkshire councillor Will Blair is also expected to stand down rather than fight for re-election in his Maltby ward.  Ex-BNP colleague John Gamble, who was elected alongside Cllr Blair in 2008, has already been forced to resign his seat due to non-attendance.

Of course the biggest political headlines this year will be in London, where there is a rematch between Mayor Boris Johnson and the man he defeated four years ago, ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone.  There is no doubt that the mayoral contest is a two horse race, but the simultaneous Greater London Assembly election includes a Proportional Representation party list section which gives smaller parties, including nationalists, a chance of winning.

Four years ago this system elected Richard Barnbrook as a BNP member of the London Assembly, after the BNP list won 5.3% of the vote.  Mr Barnbrook resigned from the BNP in August 2010 after a series of clashes with party chairman Nick Griffin.  The BNP’s difficulties had already made it virtually impossible for the party to retain Mr Barnbrook’s seat this year, but further self-inflicted disasters have taken London BNP to the brink of extinction.

The party’s mayoral candidate will be Carlos Cortiglia, born in Uruguay, who supported Argentina during the Falklands War, while the head of the GLA slate – the man seeking to replace Richard Barnbrook – is Steve Squire.

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Mr Squire’s former partner Claudia Dalgleish has recently featured in the national press making scandalous allegations involving Squire and Griffin.

In London at least two parties will be competing to inherit the BNP vote.  A number of former leading figures in London BNP, including former national organiser Richard Edmonds and a former member of Richard Barnbrook’s GLA staff, Tess Culnane, will be standing as National Front candidates.  Mrs Culnane was BNP candidate for Mayor of Lewisham in 2010 and will be standing for the NF in Greenwich & Lewisham this year.

Meanwhile former BNP election guru Eddy Butler will no doubt be running the London campaign for his new party  the English Democrats, whose candidates include former BNP member Mark Twiddy in Havering & Redbridge.

Overall the key indicator will be how many candidates the BNP manages to scrape together.  Meanwhile the England First Party, the Democratic Nationalists, and a large group of BNP dissidents are engaged in negotiations to try to avoid needless splitting of the vote and to ensure that the nationalist movement is in some sort of shape to move forward from the inevitable wreck of Nick Griffin’s party.

Watch this space for more news in the coming weeks!

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