Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 12:45 UK

Profile: Richard Barnbrook

Richard Barnbrook as the London results are announced
Age: 47
Family: Engaged to Simone Clarke
Education: Inningham Comprehensive, Grimsby, Royal Academy of Arts, California Institute of Arts
Lives: Dagenham
Career: Sculptor, teacher, councillor

Richard Barnbrook's election to the London Assembly for the British National Party makes him the far right party's highest profile elected politician.

Thanks to the version of proportional representation used in London, the party gained one of the 25 London Assembly seats after winning 5.3% of the vote.

And Mr Barnbrook, who came fifth in the race to be mayor and is leader of the party's group on Barking and Dagenham Council, was top of the BNP's list.

His election came despite all the main political parties uniting to urge people not to back "hatred, violence and stupidity".

Two days before the election the Bishop of Barking, the Rt Rev David Hawkins said each vote for the BNP would "put into reverse the patient, strategic work of healthy, race relations and social integration that is developing in our London boroughs".

Until gaining the Assembly seat the highest position a BNP candidate had been elected to was local councillor.

Mr Barnbrook was the best known of them. He was one of 11 councillors elected in his east London borough in 2006. The authority was the first in the UK to have the BNP as its second-biggest party.

The BNP campaign there was based on the number of immigrants arriving in that part of the city, claiming they were jumping the queues for council housing, and changing the nature of what was - a decade ago - the territory of the white working class.

The party was criticised by the Labour MP for Barking, Margaret Hodge, who said it was "nasty", living on lies, exploiting fears and encouraging racism.


Mr Barnbrook was born in Catford in south-east London on 24 February 1961.

A painter and graduate of the Royal Academy of Arts, he also did a PGCE (post-graduate teacher training) and spent four years from 1986 lecturing across Europe and America.

Those art school days led to headlines in 2006 when a film that he had made 17 years earlier was described as gay pornography.

However, Mr Barnbrook dismissed the criticism, saying that HMS Discovery: A Love Story was merely an art film.

Mr Barnbrook says he was initially a "card-carrying Labour activist" in Lewisham, south-east London. But, he says, he became disillusioned with them during the Thatcher years, left the party and returned to his art.

He joined the BNP in 1999 after four years of "looking into" the party. He admits he had some concerns it might be similar to the National Front which he said was "way too aggressive".

The BNP website says the party wants a halt to immigration, deportation of all illegal and criminal immigrants and proposes offering money for "voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here will be afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin".

During his speech after losing the London mayoral election he said he would stand up for all Londoners regardless of "colour or identity" as long as "you play part within the identity of this great city".

"People should remain as individuals and belong to the environment they come from or they come into. This is Britain, it is for the British people... it is not for people to enter into this land dictating what will or will not happen to the people that created it and built it over generations."

Mr Barnbrook says claims the BNP are a racist organisation are "nonsense".

He is angry at the "anti-democratic" treatment of its members - he says his work as a teacher dried up the first time he stood as a BNP councillor.

'Real Londoners'

Last December, it was announced that Mr Barnbrook would be marrying Simone Clarke, a ballerina with the English National Ballet.

The couple first met when it emerged that Ms Clarke was a supporter of the BNP. Mr Barnbrook went to one of her performances to offer his support.

There had been protests and calls for her to be sacked from the English National Ballet because of her backing for the BNP.

"What the hell," Mr Barnbrook said. "We're two people in love, that's all it comes down to."

The mayoral candidate promised straight-talking during his campaign. "If you ask me a question I will give you a straight answer. If you don't like the answer, tough. I will not skirt around things at all."

In a BBC interview during the campaign he said he wanted to give the "real people of London" - the indigenous population first, and the post-war immigrants who came over to rebuild Britain, such as Caribbeans who arrived on the Empire Windrush, second - a voice.

He said immigrants who had arrived in the past 15 years were taking more than they are giving.

"It's not immigrants that are at fault here, never has been, it's the establishment, our own governing powers and their greed or their ignorance or their simple gutlessness to do anything about it," he said.

'Behind closed doors'

He would like to see a freeze on immigration, which he believes influences "all aspects of our existence" - from health and crime to water supplies. Legal immigrants would stay, illegal immigrants would go - as would those being released from prison.

He advocates tough policies on crime, particularly the "absolutely catastrophic" spate of youth crime: "Handcuffs off the police, on the villains. Not three hits and you're out, one hit and you're out - need more prisons? Build more prisons."

To him Britishness is the "shake of a hand that is a guarantee, the humility, the honesty and the benevolence - all these elements are what make the British people British".

Asked if a person could be a British Muslim he said: "The answer is yes, but on the grounds that you follow all of the identities being described of living in this country and benefiting this country.

"You may have your religion behind your closed doors but you don't bring it onto the streets. You can be gay behind closed doors, you can be heterosexual behind closed doors, but you don't bring it onto the streets, demanding more rights for it."

The BNP campaign in London included a broad range of issues, such as scrapping the congestion charge, planting more fruit trees, putting solar panels on public buildings and giving the 2012 Olympics to Greece - but immigration remains the issue that dominates.

It is an issue that has moved up the political agenda and Mr Barnbrook says the mainstream parties have been adopting issues raised by the BNP.

"Where we lead, they are following," he said. "If the other parties had done their jobs properly in the first place, this party wouldn't exist. It's as simple as that."

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  Councillors Councils
Party +/- Total +/- Total
CON 257 3155 12 65
LAB -334 2365 -9 18
LD 33 1804 1 12
PC 31 205 -1 0
OTH 10 898 0 0
NOC - - -3 64
159 of 159 councils declared.

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London Mayoral results
Overall results
Name Party Votes
Johnson CON 1,168,738
Livingstone LAB 1,028,966
Paddick LD 878,097
Berry GRN 409,101

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Results in more detail

London Assembly Results
Overall results
Party Constit' Top-up Total seats
CON 8 3 11
LAB 6 2 8
LD 0 3 3
GRN 0 2 2
BNP 0 1 1

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Results in more detail


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