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 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 11:51 GMT
BNP takes fifth council seat
Adrian Marsden, BNP council victory
Mr Marsden's victory was confirmed after a recount
The British National Party has won its fifth council seat by taking a ward in West Yorkshire.

The BNP won Mixenden ward at Calderdale Council in a by-election, taking the seat from Labour despite winning only three votes in 10.

These people dress in nice smart suits but underneath they are the same ugly human beings

Alice Mahon, Labour MP, Halifax
Adrian Marsden, 42, a father of seven, won by 28 votes, after a recount, with the Liberal Democrats second and Labour in third place.

BBC news correspondent John Thorne said around 150 BNP supporters had led their candidate "singing and cheering" into nearby Halifax town centre to celebrate the result.

He added: "The Labour Party insist they will win back the seat at the next election and say this is something that has been whipped up by the BNP."

Close result

Last year the far-right party had success in Lancashire, winning a seat in Blackburn and three in Burnley, one of several northern towns where racial tensions sparked rioting in 2001.

It now has five councillors - out of about 20,000 overall in England and Wales.

Thursday's Calderdale by-election was called following the dismissal of former Labour group leader Andy Metcalfe, who failed to attend the requisite number of council meetings due to ill health.

The BNP polled 679 votes with the Liberal Democrats coming second with 651.

Labour were beaten into third place with 641 while the Tories polled 214 votes.

BNP supporter outside the count
BNP supporters gathered outside the count
The Independent candidate picked up 142 votes.

That means the BNP polled 29% of the vote, compared to the 44% won by Labour at the May council election in the seat.

Alice Mahon, Labour MP for Halifax, said she hoped the result was a temporary setback for the residents of Mixenden.

"They [the BNP] like to prey on people's fears, they attempt to whip up division against other people.

"These people dress in nice smart suits but underneath them they are the same ugly human beings trying to bring division wherever they go."

Mrs Mahon said she took some consolation from the fact that only one in 10 voted for the far right party in the ward.

Downing Street later said the prime minister's views on race relations were clear - he did not want anything to increase divisions.

Tory councillor John Ford, leader of Calderdale Council, also voiced his concerns.

Tolerance call

He said: "I'm personally very disappointed with the result, I'm disappointed as a Conservative and I'm very disappointed for the residents of Calderdale."

The result comes two months after BNP candidate Robin Evans won a seat on Darwen Borough Council in Blackburn with a majority of just 16 over Labour.

The ward of Mill Hill where Mr Evans was elected is in the constituency of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

After November's result, Mr Straw called for greater racial tolerance and noted that electors had voted more than two-to-one against the party.

European elections

Among the BNP's policies are "resettlement" of black and Asian people to their lands of ethnic origin.

The party is considering fielding candidates in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2003.

Nick Griffin, the party's leader, said they would attempt to capitalise on alleged concerns over asylum seekers in Scotland.

Earlier this month, the BNP said it was planning to stand in Allerdale and Carlisle when district council elections are held in May.

And last October the party said it would fight elections in Northern Ireland for the first time, fielding a candidate at the next European elections.

In the Calderdale election on Thursday, the results were as follows:

  • BNP: 679 votes
  • Liberal Democrats: 651
  • Labour: 641
  • Conservatives: 214
  • Independent: 142
  The BBC's Judith Moritz
"It's a message that's struck a chord with the voters"
  Jonathan Tonge, Salford University
"It's portrayed local councils as being generous to Asian communities"
See also:

24 Aug 01 | UK
24 Jan 03 | Politics
22 Nov 02 | Politics
22 Nov 02 | England
14 Nov 02 | Scotland
03 May 02 | Politics
03 May 02 | Politics
11 Dec 01 | England
23 Jan 03 | Politics
24 Jan 03 | UK

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