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1998 - 2000
In the 1998 local elections the BNP contested 34 seats. Its best result was in Newham where Peter Hart won 11.31 per cent of the vote. Its vote in East London was considerably less than what the party achieved in the previous London elections in 1994.

Searchlight, the long established anti-fascist organisation suggested that this failure was due to "a vastly different political situation compared to the early 1990s and... the party's lack of organisational ability".

By the end of 1999 the BNP membership had risen 2,000 of which 400 were active. The West Midlands becomes increasingly important, with local organiser Steve Edwards polling 17% in the Tipton Green ward in Sandwell. Across the region the BNP averaged 7.65% in the seats it contested.

The BNP polled 100,000 votes in the June 1999 European Elections, the first national British election contested under proportional representation.

Under Griffin's guidance, the BNP began receiving considerable press coverage for its countryside and farming campaign. Though only a handful of people ever joined the party as a result, the media interest helped create the impression that the BNP was a party concerned with more than just race and immigration.

However, there was no evidence that the core BNP beliefs were changing. In 1998 Griffin was convicted for distributing material likely to incite racial hatred and given a nine month sentence suspended for two years.

During his defence he attacked those who criticised him for denying the Holocaust. "I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that 6 million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades. Orthodox opinion also once held that the world is flat... I have reached the conclusion that the 'extermination' tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter witch-hysteria."

Griffin had been building a power base in the party for some time. In September 1999, he challenged Tyndall for the party leadership and won.

In 2000, the BNP polled 47,000 votes in the London Assembly Elections, taking 11% across the East London constituency. The party polled even better locally. In Tipton Green Edwards gained 23% while in a council by-election in the North End ward in Bexley Colin Smith received 27%.

The BNP advance was derailed with an internal clash which saw Deputy Chairman Sharron Edwards, Party Treasurer Michael Newlands and West Midlands Organiser Steve Edwards all leave in disgust amid allegations of financial irregularities within the BNP.


Ballot box
The BNP failed to build on their earlier successes in local elections


Auschwitz
The holocaust: Griffin claimed it did not happen
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