Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 16:14 UK

First county council seat for BNP

Sharon Wilkinson being congratulated at the count at Turf Moor Leisure Centre, Burnley.
Sharon Wilkinson won the Padiham and Burnley West ward

The British National Party (BNP) has won its first county council seat in England in the party's stronghold of Burnley in Lancashire.

The BNP won one seat with the Liberal Democrats taking the remaining five. All six seats in the town had been held by Labour since 2005.

Burnley already has four BNP members who sit on the local borough council.

Tony Martin, a Labour county councillor in the town for 20 years, said it was "an awful day for Labour in Burnley".

Important win

BNP leader Nick Griffin said taking the Lancashire seat was a an important win for the party.

"We're very pleased with that because growing in British politics is about being on the ladder and we've already taken seats at the lowest levels of local government and county council is a level we hadn't got to," he said.

"It would be problematic to win a huge number of seats in one go - we're not experienced at that level of government. To grow steadily and get on this rung of the ladder is important."

Kitty Usher
I think we were the victims of uncertain economic and political times nationally
Kitty Ussher, Labour MP for Burnley

In Burnley, where 11% of its 65,000 electorate are from ethnic minorities - mainly Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, the turnout was measured at about 35% after the first three results - significantly down from the 2005 turnout of nearly 60%.

The BNP's Sharon Wilkinson defeated Labour's Marcus Johnstone in the Padiham and Burnley West ward to gain her seat on the county council.

Leader of Lancashire County Council Hazel Harding was also defeated, losing her Rossendale North seat.

Ms Wilkinson said: "It is absolutely wonderful for the party and gives me the opportunity to represent more people."

Kitty Ussher, Labour MP for Burnley, said: "It is disappointing.

"We have lost some really good county councillors who have worked very hard to serve their community.

'Choppy waters'

"I think we were the victims of uncertain economic and political times nationally.

"Hazel Blears wore a brooch saying, 'Rocking the boat'. If you are in choppy waters you don't change the captain.

I'm devastated. I lost my own seat and ended up coming third
Tony Martin, a Burnley Labour councillor for 20 years

"We have a very good and able prime minister to take us through this difficult time."

Gordon Birtwistle, the Liberal Democrat leader of Burnley Borough Council and prospective parliamentary candidate for the town, said: "We are over the moon - we have completely wiped Labour off the map.

"They had all six seats, today they lost the lot, of which we took five of the six.

"Obviously Labour nationally are in a catastrophic position."

'We will be back'

Tony Martin, a Labour county councillor in Burnley for 20 years until Thursday's election defeat, said: "It has been an absolutely awful day for Labour in Burnley.

"We expected the results to be bad but we hoped we could hold on to a couple of seats. I'm devastated. I lost my own seat and ended up coming third.

"It is the same for Labour as it was with the Tories in 1997. They just had to reform themselves and are now doing very well with Cameron.

"We have been in power for 13 years and sometimes you get the backlash. We will be back."

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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
BBC political editor Nick Robinson Nick Robinson
Follow the BBC Political Editor's assessment of developments
Harriet Harman on the big screen on the Breakfast set Harman defends 'dismal' result

David Cameron Cameron 'delighted' with results

Nick Clegg Clegg: Results 'a good platform'

Nick Griffin Jubilant BNP hails 'great victory'

Nigel Farage UKIP: A hell of an achievement


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