22 November 2002

Concern after election of British National Party local councillor in Blackburn

The Methodist Church Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs, Ms Rachel Lampard, has made the following statement in response to the election of a BNP councillor today:

"Many people will be very concerned to see election of a BNP councillor in Blackburn. The British National Party is opposed to the vision of a multi-racial Britain where we can learn from and celebrate our differences.

"The election of a BNP councillor comes as the party is campaigning for a supporter jailed for four months for distributing leaflets that were likely to incite racial hatred. Other recent campaign material has attacked Islam (and by association Muslims), asylum seekers and education in schools about world faiths.

"We need political leaders who are bridge-builders not those who wish to stir up religious or racial hatred in our communities.

"There was a very low turnout for this election - only 2 in 5 of the eligible electorate voted. Churches and other community groups ought to do more to encourage those who have turned their back on the democratic process to do more to exercise their right and responsibility and vote in local elections for parties that promote the common good."

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