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The 2001 BNP manifesto changed the party's immigration policy. It altered from total repatriation to voluntary repatriation with financial backing. However, the BNP made it clear that housing and jobs would be prioritised for native white Britons.

On 26 May, violence erupted in Oldham. Hundreds of Asian youths clashed with police during a night of rioting, which the police described as "sheer carnage."

The Asian youths were reacting to white youths who had ran through an Asian street attacking people and property.

Ten days after the first race riots in Britain for 30 years, the BNP secured its best ever election performance in the General Election.

It fielded 33 candidates (32 in England and 1 in Wales) and gained 47,129 votes overall (an average share of 3.9% per constituency, a threefold increase on its 1997 results). However, the party saved its deposit (by achieving 5% or more of the total votes cast) in five constituencies.

BNP leader Nick Griffin gained 16% of the vote in Oldham West and Royton. In neighbouring Oldham East and Saddleworth, local BNP organiser Mick Treacy polled 11%.

Fearing a further escalation in tensions, all candidates were banned from speaking at the election count. Griffin and Treacy stood on the platform gagged, in a silent protest against the ban.

Following further clashes in June an 8ft-high fence was erected in Oldham to divide Asians and whites. It's the first time a physical barrier has been used in modern Britain to separate ethnic groups.

It followed complaints from residents of one mainly Asian street that white youths were stoning their cars and homes before escaping back to their own area down the narrow cut-through.

In Burnley, in June, a weekend of violence climaxed with more than 200 youths attacking shops, homes and vehicles.

In early July there was a weekend of rioting in Bradford - the worst in Britain in 20 years.

More than two hundred police officers were injured in three nights of clashes. Properties were firebombed, businesses looted and vehicles set alight. The destruction is estimated to have caused 25 million pounds of damage.

The Oldham riots
The BNP highlighted the role of "Muslim gangs" in the Oldham riots

Nick Griffin
Nick Griffin on the platform at the Oldham West count

The Bradford riots
The summer's riots continued in Bradford
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