Concern after election of British National Party local councillor in Blackburn

The Methodist Church Secretary for Parliamentary andPolitical Affairs, Ms Rachel Lampard, has made the followingstatement in response to the election of a BNP councillortoday:

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

"The election of a BNP councillor comes as the party iscampaigning for a supporter jailed for four months for distributingleaflets that were likely to incite racial hatred. Other recentcampaign 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 whowish to stir up religious or racial hatred in our communities.

"There was a very low turnout for this election - only 2 in 5 ofthe eligible electorate voted. Churches and other community groupsought to do more to encourage those who have turned their back onthe democratic process to do more to exercise their right andresponsibility and vote in local elections for parties that promotethe common good."