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

The Methodist Church's Secretary for Parliamentaryand Political Affairs, Ms Rachel Lampard, has today made thefollowing comment:

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

The Superintendent Minister of the Burnley MethodistCircuit, the Rev Keith Richardson, has today made the followingcomment:

"The news that the BNP has succeeded in taking seven seats inthe Burnley Borough Council elections, making a total of eightcouncillors, was met with dismay and disappointment by members ofthe Burnley Methodist Circuit. Following last year's election whenthree BNP councillors were elected, we had hoped there would not bea 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 faithcommunities, it would seem the message has fallen on deaf ears formany of the electorate. It would be foolish to pretend that many ofthe votes were not made on racist grounds. In an area of economicdeprivation and low wage economy, it is all too easy to scapegoatthose of Asian heritage culture.

"We as a faith community need to respond vigorously byencouraging people to recognise the misguided direction that isbeing taken. We can only be concerned of the growth of such racismin our midst, and be aware of where such intolerance has beenallowed to grow in other parts of the world in recent years."