02 May 2003

Local elections: reaction to election of new British National Party councillors

The Methodist Church's Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs, Ms Rachel Lampard, has today made the following comment:

"The election of 11 new British National Party councillors and the vote that the party received in certain parts of the country does not represent a sea-change in British politics. However it is disappointing to see a racist and divisive party achieving a public platform. The BNP may have developed a slick, media-savvy image, but their policies pander to base isolationist fears rather than promote a vision of what humans can achieve together."

The Superintendent Minister of the Burnley Methodist Circuit, the Rev Keith Richardson, has today made the following comment:

"The news that the BNP has succeeded in taking seven seats in the Burnley Borough Council elections, making a total of eight councillors, was met with dismay and disappointment by members of the Burnley Methodist Circuit. Following last year's election when three BNP councillors were elected, we had hoped there would not be a repeat that this time. However, in every ward where they stood, BNP candidates either took the seat or came second.

"Despite great effort on the part of the leaders of the faith communities, it would seem the message has fallen on deaf ears for many of the electorate. It would be foolish to pretend that many of the votes were not made on racist grounds. In an area of economic deprivation and low wage economy, it is all too easy to scapegoat those of Asian heritage culture.

"We as a faith community need to respond vigorously by encouraging people to recognise the misguided direction that is being taken. We can only be concerned of the growth of such racism in our midst, and be aware of where such intolerance has been allowed to grow in other parts of the world in recent years."

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