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Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 16:43 UK
Des Coleman meets BNP activists
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Des challenges the BNP over their membership policies for BBC Inside Out

The British National Party never seems to be far away from controversy.

On Thursday 15 October 2009 the party was in court over its membership policy.

The equalities watchdog claims it breaches the Race Relations Act because it only allows white Britons to be members.

It is something BBC Leicester's weatherman Des Coleman found out about for himself when he spent the summer meeting BNP members for BBC Inside Out.

What ever people think of the BNP it's a fact their members are banned from joining the police force and trades unions
Des Coleman, BBC Presenter

Des' Inside Out report is a bit different from weather presenting, but it is a topic he has always been interested in.

"It's something that's close to my heart. I'm black and I'm British. A lot of people say the BNP's racist.

"What ever people think of the BNP it's a fact their members are banned from joining the police force and trades unions.

"But people vote for them here in Leicestershire and across the East Midlands. I wanted to know what is it about the party that gets them elected? And how do they justify those membership rules?"

A Leicestershire BNP activist does not want to talk to BBC Inside Out

Des travelled across the East Midlands, including Coalville in Leicestershire, and upset members of the BNP after he challenged them about their policy.

"Over the summer BBC Inside Out arranged for me to meet a few activists to talk about policies during the local and European elections.

"It started well, but after a few interviews with candidates the BNP pulled the plug. The party managers didn't like our questions.

"This is the moment Ellistown parish councillor Wayne McDermott, made that clear to me.

"This was because a few days earlier I'd interviewed one of their candidates in Nottinghamshire, a guy called Edward Holmes. He took exception to my questions.

Des Coleman is told by Edward Holmes he can not join the BNP

"I asked if I could be a member of their party. I figured I'm British, I'm patriotic."

Des was told by Edward he could not be a member of the BNP. Watch what happened.

"Edward went on to say if his party got into power they'd be able to make policy for me. They'd know what was good for me. I found that patronising.

"Despite me being British, it felt like he was somehow saying he was more British than me and knew what I wanted more than I did."

BNP supporters

When Des spoke to people, who vote for the BNP at elections, he found supporters were concerned about the number of people deciding to live in the UK from other countries.

"We meet a well-known estate agent who reveals why he supports the BNP. We also talked to people at the polling stations who are voting BNP.

"What we heard from them very much suggests that immigration is the big issue at the front of people's minds when they put that cross in the BNP box."

Shocking footage

Des reveals there is shocking footage shown on the BBC Inside Out programme.

"During our filming the BNP held its Red White and Blue Festival in Codnor.

"An undercover newspaper journalist there secretly filmed party activists holding a mock trial of a Gollywog. They find it guilty of being black and then burn it."




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