Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Sunday, 27 December 2009

BNP challenge must be met by main parties, says Howard

Michael Howard
Michael Howard has called on all the main parties to take on the BNP

Former Conservative leader Michael Howard has accused all the mainstream parties of failing to do enough to challenge the British National Party.

Mr Howard said it was important for politicians to confront the BNP in the run-up to the general election.

But this was not being done to the extent necessary, he told the BBC.

Mr Howard said there was no room for complacency because there were a number of constituencies where the BNP could be a "potent threat" at the polls.

'Potent threat'

Mr Howard told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend: "I think I am still the only party leader who went to Burnley and devoted an entire speech to confronting the BNP and saying that we've really got to take them on and we've got to take their arguments on.

"I don't think we can afford to be complacent. There are one or two constituencies where they are said to be a potent threat.

"I think you have to take them on, you have to confront them and you have to expose the appalling evil of their arguments."

BNP leader Nick Griffin announced last month he would stand for Westminster in the east London constituency of Barking at the next general election.

'Honest' party

Mr Griffin said that his party was not racist, but won votes because it "spoke openly about the problem of immigration".

He told a news conference: "It's all phoney with the other parties.

"Sometimes we can be a little blunt, a little politically incorrect, but we're always honest and people know that now."

The BNP won its first two seats in the European Parliament in June - Mr Griffin in the North West and Andrew Brons in Yorkshire and the Humber where it got 10% of the vote.

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