Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Saturday, 14 November 2009

BNP paves way to admit non-whites

Nick Griffin: "We have changed under duress"

British National Party leaders have voted "overwhelmingly" to ballot members on changing its constitution to allow non-white members to join.

Leader Nick Griffin said he welcomed the change, which the party had been "moving towards" for years.

If the new membership rules are approved, the BNP would be brought in line with the recent Equality Bill.

The party's "closed for business" talks in Hindley Green, Wigan, came on the first day of its annual conference.

Anti-fascists

Senior members discussed whether its policy should discriminate on the ground of race or religion. Members of the public and journalists were barred.

A party spokesman said: "More than 300 of the party's voting membership voted overwhelmingly in favour. At a later stage it will be put to the entire membership of the party to vote for, or against."

The Human Rights Commission has ruled that if the BNP does not allow people from ethnic minorities to join, it would become an illegal party.

We are here because the BNP is a fascist party and it does not represent the people of Wigan, the North West or the country
Paul Jenkins

Mr Griffin said: "We will ensure the new constitution still makes sure that the party is there primarily to represent the interests of the indigenous people of these islands who have been grotesquely discriminated against by the other parties now for decades.

"But to have members of loyal assimilated minorities in this country involved in the party as well I'm sure will actually help."

A group of about 50 anti-fascist protesters gathered outside the conference venue chanting "Black and white unite and fight", and "Smash the BNP".

Dozens of police officers were on patrol outside the complex and the surrounding roads.

Paul Jenkins, 40, from Cumbria, is the north-west organiser for Unite Against Fascism.

He said: "We are here because the BNP is a fascist party and it does not represent the people of Wigan, the North West or the country."

Mr Griffin, who was controversially invited on to BBC's Question Time last month, will bring the conference to a close on Sunday with a keynote speech.

Delegates will discuss 12 policy motions put forward by various regional party groups.

The BNP's membership has increased this year and two candidates were elected to the European Parliament.



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