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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 13:50 GMT
BNP's success 'devastating'
Robin Evans (left) celebrates his victory with BNP leader Nick Griffin
Mr Evans won in Blackburn by 16 votes
The Lancashire town where a BNP candidate scraped a win in a council by-election is coming to terms with the result.

Robin Evans grabbed victory in Blackburn's Mill Hill seat by 16 votes, from his nearest rival Labour's Gail Barton.

Ms Barton said she was devastated, and feared the town's reputation for social cohesion had been tarnished.

The leader of Blackburn with Darwen council said Mr Evans' win was secured by exploiting voters' fears on the doorsteps.


I don't think there's any support for the BNP at the grassroots level

Ibraham Masters, Lancashire Council of Mosques
Councillor Bill Taylor told BBC Radio Lancashire: "I don't think in many ways this election was based on the services that a council delivers to its citizens.

"I overheard two people talking in the most derogatory sense about why they were supporting the British National Party.

"I think that's what's been happening on the doorsteps - people's fears and prejudices have been played upon here."

Ibraham Masters, chairman of Lancashire Council of Mosques, was shocked by the result but said the impact on race relations in the area would not last.

'Very sad night'

He said: "People in Blackburn have been working very hard to build bridges between communities, to develop a just and fair society for the common good of Blackburn.

"This particular result, I believe, was a protest about local issues between parties.

"I don't think there's any real support for the British National Party at the grassroots level, or for its particular polices."

However, Ms Barton, said she was worried about what this will do to the town's reputation, especially in the light of the BNP's success in nearby Burnley earlier this year.

She said: "I'm devastated, not for me but the people of Blackburn and Darwen. I think it was a very sad night"

Mr Evans would not give interviews after his win, but in a statement said he would not be "handicapped by political correctness" in fighting for the town's needs.

He said: "With this major success, Blackburn's BNP can now look forward to and build for the 2004 council elections where we will be able to offer other seats like Mill Hill hope."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jim Hancock
"This ward has administered a big political shock to the North West"

Click here to go to Lancashire
BNP: under the skin


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See also:

22 Nov 02 | Politics
03 May 02 | Politics
03 May 02 | Politics
03 May 02 | Politics
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