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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Racial tension impacts on North West
Fire services in Oldham
Racial tension in Oldham turned into violence
BBC North West political correspondent Jim Hancock considers whether recent racial tensions in the area had a noticable impact on voting.

The major surprise in the region was the record vote, almost 12,000, for the British National Party (BNP).

The far right party recorded its best ever general election result in the two Oldham constituencies which have been affected by recent unrest.

BNP leader Nick Griffin came third in the Oldham West and Royton constituency, behind the Labour Environment Minister Michael Meacher and the Conservative candidate.

Campaign condemned

The party also recorded a strong result in the neighbouring constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Mick Treacy collected 5,091 votes, some 11% of the total vote.

The BNP also got 11% of the vote in Burnley.

The BNP's performance in Oldham was condemned by Labour's Michael Meacher.

Michael Meacher
Michael Meacher: criticised BNP campaign
Mr Meacher said: "It has of course been on the back of a systematic campaign of violence, intimidation and bigotry which has been perpetrated on the people of Oldham."

Hague criticised

The strong vote also prompted Mr Meacher to renewed criticism of the Conservatives.

He linked the BNP's success with William Hague's foreign land speech.

His remarks have angered Conservatives who deny the link.

Generally in the region it was a standstill election with just two seats changing hands.

Woodward majority reduced

Labour held all its seats, including St Helens South.

Shaun Woodward
Shaun Woodward: reduced majority
Shaun Woodward, the former Conservative MP, saw his inherited majority reduced from 23,739 to 8,985.

On winning he commented: "I spent some time in the Conservative party, and as Winston Churchill said I left the party to stop saying stupid things.'"

But Tory vice chairman Steve Norris said of Mr Woodward: "Labour are welcome to him - Shaun must live with his own conscience.

"He could clearly not find his way up the motorway if he didn't have his butler with him."

Tatton reclaimed

The Liberal Democrats took Cheadle, their number one, target seat after two recounts.

Patsy Calton, a chemistry teacher, defeated Conservative Stephen Day by 33 votes.

Meanwhile the Tories only gain of the night was to reclaim Tatton.

George Osborne replacing the Independent Martin Bell.

Mr Osborne was a speech writer for William Hague, a job that has now become less demanding.

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Related stories:

08 Jun 01 |  Vote2001
BNP prompts Oldham concern
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BNP polls strongly in Oldham
31 May 01 |  Vote2001
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Curtain falls on Bell drama

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