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The National Front's Terry Blackham
"We think the only way to keep the peace is repatriation"
 real 28k

Oldham deputy mayor Riaz Ahmed
"Every time the NF comes into Oldham, the level of racial violence goes up"
 real 28k

Friday, 29 June, 2001, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
National Front targets Oldham
Fire engine during Oldham riots
Oldham saw the worst rioting in the UK for 15 years
The National Front is actively recruiting members in Oldham, the scene of three nights of rioting and racial violence last month, the BBC has learned.

The far right party's activities organiser, Terry Blackham, said the NF intended to put up candidates in the town's next local elections.


We're going to stand up for the white British people of Oldham

Terry Blackham

It comes as an Asian leader appealed for peace talks with the Nick Griffin, the chairman of the other far right group the British National Party.

Trouble flared between Asian and white youths in Burnley, Lancashire, last weekend and police are investigating several petrol bombings in nearby Accrington on Thursday night.

Repatriation

Mr Blackham told the BBC: "We want to see the trouble and violence stopped in Oldham and the only way to do that is by repatriation.


Decent people in this country will never subscribe to National Front policies

Riaz Ahmed
"The black and Asians have got more than enough people standing up for them. We're going to stand up for the white British people of Oldham."

Mr Blackham has appeared in court in Oldham charged with breaching the peace - which he denies.

He insisted that the party did not advocate violence and continued: "We will be putting candidates up in the local elections. We expect to do very well.

"Over recent weeks we've seen that the white people of Oldham are prepared to go out and vote for a racial nationalist party."

'Out of touch'

But the town's deputy mayor Riaz Ahmed, whose home was fire-bombed earlier this month, dismissed Mr Blackham's comments as "nonsense".

"He's out of touch with reality, he's out of touch with Britain as of today. He's talking the language of the early '40s in the last century," he said

"Decent people in this country will never subscribe to National Front policies."


The BNP have targeted areas in order to ferment divides that split and devastate communities

Nottingham South MP, Alan Simpson

Mr Ahmed said he realised there would be "problems" at the next local election but added: "We are ready for it, we think we'll be able to deal with it.

"The people of Oldham will come around and say 'the fascists have got no place in Oldham and fascists have got no place in Great Britain'."

Meanwhile community leader Shoukat Khawaja, of Oldham, said he wanted to "get the hate out of the heart" of the BNP chairman.

Mr Griffin, received 16% of the vote in the strife-torn constituency of Oldham West and Royton on 7 June.

On Tuesday, he told BBC Two's Newsnight programme that he had visited Burnley as part of his party's "strategy" to defuse tensions by offering a political alternative to disgruntled whites.

'Peace walls'

He called for "peace walls" similar to those in Northern Ireland to avoid clashes between different ethnic groups.

On Thursday, the Leader of the House of Commons, Robin Cook, told the Commons: "The only people who gain from violence and from the destruction are those extremists who wish to turn racism to their own poisonous political objectives - such as the BNP.

"It is important that we defeat them."

Mr Cook added that in order to do this it would be "necessary to address not only the racism that was demonstrated in those riots but also the social conditions which breach the tensions in the first place."

The leader of the house was responding to a question by Nottingham South MP Alan Simpson who called for a debate on the "hopelessness and despair" that resulted from poor social conditions being exploited by the far right.

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See also:

29 Jun 01 | UK
Police probe bomb attacks
08 Jun 01 | Vote2001
BNP prompts Oldham concern
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