Page last updated at 19:33 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 20:33 UK

BNP expects expenses row boost

By Ross Hawkins
BBC political correspondent

Four men in pig masks stuffed fake money into their pockets. 'Workers' in fluorescent jackets and hard hats beat them with placards and chased them away.

Nick Griffin at the election launch
Mr Griffin said his party was discriminated against

That was how the British National Party made its point about MPs' expenses at the launch of its European and local election campaign.

The party leader Nick Griffin said revelations about the finances of Westminster politicians would win his party six or seven MEPs at the elections.

There was no polling data to support that claim, but he had the enthusiastic support of an audience of BNP candidates.

Speaking in front of a sepia picture of a Spitfire, flanked by flags, Nick Griffin said the BNP suffered from the prejudice of a biased, liberal media.

Its voters faced intimidation but it would offer an alternative to the traditional parties portrayed by those pigs, he said.

Nick Griffin said he was happy to accept protest votes.

The BNP wants Britain to withdraw from the EU, and it wants immigration stopped.

Nick Griffin was frank about the party's priorities. The "indigenous peoples" of Britain faced discrimination, he said.

So BNP politicians would discriminate in favour of those he described as "our people".

Opponents of Nick Griffin's object not just to what he says, but the coverage he receives in the media.

The BNP has no MPs - they point out - and fewer than 100 councillors. That makes it just one of many small parties competing for votes.

Interest in the party is heightened now because the BNP could win a seat in the European Parliament with around 8% of the vote in some parts of the country. The system of proportional representation used at the election makes a BNP MEP a possibility.

Senior Labour politicians have talked about that prospect for months. Nick Griffin said he was happy to accept protest votes.

The question for his candidates is how many voters will choose to register a protest by voting for them.

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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
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