BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 13:25 UK

Vote Labour or risk a BNP MP, Stoke South voters warned

A Labour general election candidate in Stoke-on-Trent has said the only way to stop the British National Party (BNP) succeeding is to vote for him.

Rob Flello, who is standing in Stoke-on-Trent South where he was elected MP in 2005, made the claim in a letter sent to prospective constituents.

The BNP is the third largest group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Independent Terry Follows and Liberal Democrat candidate Zulfiqar Ali said Mr Flello's comments were wrong.

In his letter, Mr Flello wrote: "I believe that councillors Terry Follows and Dr Zulfigar Ali are good men who work hard, but a vote for them is effectively a vote for the BNP.

"Independents and Liberal Democrats cannot win in Stoke-on-Trent, but they can take enough votes from Labour's traditional support to let the racist BNP sneak through."

'Entirely wrong'

"The only way to stop the BNP is to vote Labour," he also said.

Mr Follows said the claim was "entirely wrong", pointing out that there were no BNP councillors in Stoke before Labour got into power in 1997.

Dr Ali said Mr Flello was scaremongering and that a vote for the Liberal Democrats would not be a vote for the BNP - it would be a vote for the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg.

BNP candidate Mike Coleman agreed with Mr Flello that either his party or Labour would win the seat.

"It is a two-horse race. It's not the Tories, it's the BNP who are chasing Labour."

He also said the BNP was not racist and that the party did not like being accused of being so.

"To say we hate other people who are not like us is not true," he said.

Conservative candidate James Rushton said he found it appalling that people were being frightened into voting for a particular party.

"What the people of Stoke need to do is to look at the candidates on individual merits and vote for the local candidate who is passionate about Stoke."

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