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Sunday, 28 April, 2002, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
No 10 spin doctor in BNP warning
Alastair Campbell
The decision to speak out is unusual
Fears that the far-right British National Party (BNP) could make electoral in-roads in Burnley have prompted Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell to give a rare interview to the BBC.

Mr Campbell, whose official title is Downing Street director of communications, said a big vote for the BNP on 2 May's local council elections would be "disastrous" for the town.


I am doing this as a one-off because I do feel very, very strongly about what may happen in Burnley

Alastair Campbell
A well-known fan of Burnley football club, Mr Campbell branded the BNP a "bunch of racist misfits" - but he acknowledged they posed a threat in Thursday's poll.

The party has 13 candidates running for the council.

Mr Campbell told Radio Five Live: "They have targeted Burnley which is very, very sad for Burnley.

"I really do hope that people in Burnley realise the damage that would be done to Burnley if they wake up next Friday and find that all people are talking about is the fact that Burnley has elected BNP councillors.

"You have got lots of major local employers saying if we wake up next Friday with BNP councillors that is going to be disastrous for jobs in Burnley, investment in Burnley and all the rest of it.

'Use vote'

"There is no doubt at all that if the BNP have any sort of success at all it is going to give Burnley huge difficulties for the future in relation to its reputation, in relation to companies that will want to go and invest there."

Mr Campbell said the success of Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front in getting through to the second round of the French presidential elections should give "pause for thought" to the UK electorate.

"The vote is a very, very precious thing," he said.

"It is very easy to fall for all this stuff you get in the media the whole time about cynicism and apathy.

"Politics really, really matters. It really, really matters in France at the moment, not least because a lot of people didn't get out and vote and they feel pretty wretched about it now."

Unusual move

Mr Campbell added that he hoped the people of Burnley would not find themselves in a position on Friday morning where they regretted not turning out to vote on Thursday.

"They've got the vote there and they have got to get out and use it," he said.

And he added that he knew it was unusual for an unelected official to make public his views in this way.

"I am doing this as a one-off because I do feel very, very strongly about what may happen in Burnley," he said.

"I think it is important those who can get their voice heard do."

Downing Street later denied that Mr Campbell's decision to speak out meant that he had ambitions to become MP for Burnley.

"He has already made clear that he has no intention of becoming MP for Burnley or anywhere else," a spokeswoman said.

See also:

26 Feb 02 | UK Politics
07 Jan 02 | UK Politics
24 Oct 01 | UK Politics
10 Oct 01 | UK
22 Jun 01 | UK Politics
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