The British National Party has managed to stand only around 130 candidates for the local elections on Thursday 3 May.
The number of BNP candidates is well down on the 268 it stood last year and less than a quarter of the 612 they stood when the same seats were up for election in 2008.
This low figure shows the parlous state of the BNP, after crushing electoral defeats in Barking and Dagenham in 2010 and Stoke-on-Trent last year wiped out the BNP councillors in what it thought were its heartlands. Since then, the fascist party has been wracked by internal warfare and financial scandal, with members leaving in droves.
These elections could see the final nails hammered into the BNP’s coffin.
But other fascist candidates are also standing in these elections – including 34 for the National Front. And many former BNP candidates have simply swapped rosettes and have reappeared under new party names.
The English Democrats – a new home for the BNP
The English Democrat Party is a right-wing nationalist party with a history of racist rhetoric. It has recently toned down its public statements a bit, although it still attacks multiculturalism and immigrants, who it contrasts with the ‘indigenous English’ – code for ‘white people’.
But the English Democrats have welcomed BNP fascists with open arms. The EDP is standing 86 election hopefuls outside London, plus a list for the GLA. Outside London, more than a quarter of the English Democta candidates formerly stood for election as BNP members. Former BNP parliamentary candiate Michael Barnbrook is now on the EDP’s list for the GLA.
EDP candidates include Chris Beverley, who is standing in Leeds and is also PA to the BNP’s die-hard Nazi MEP Andrew Brons.
They also include Eddy Butler, formerly the BNP national organiser and the architect of its ‘Rights for Whites’ campaign in the 1990s.
Butler (pictured, left, with his new EDP leaflets) is listed on Brons’ website as his political researcher – but he is standing for the English Democrats alongside their party leader Robin Tilbrook in Epping Forest, Herts.
Tilbrook and the EDP are clearly more than happy to offer a new home to these recently arrived BNP stalwarts.
Their campaign will be focused in the Yorkshire and Humber and East of England regions in areas that have previously been BNP hunting grounds.
In Barnsley, six of the EDP’s 12 candidates previously stood for the BNP. In Southend, Essex, the figure is five out of 10. There are many more BNP turned EDP candidates around the country.
The British Freedom Party – allies of the EDL
The elections will also see the British Freedom Party stick its toes in the water, with six candidates standing. The party was set up by former senior BNP members, who later discreetly removed themselves from its executive body in an attempted clean-up.
It has announced an alliance with the English Defence League, giving them the classic fascist structure with both electoral and street-fighting wings. Since then it has attracted a further slew of disgruntled BNP members too.
The BFP was not expected to stand many candidates this year – it is instead aiming at 2013-14. But its chief nominating officer Peter Stafford has nominated himself and two other members of the Stafford family to stand in Liverpool. All three are former BNP candidates, as is Peter Squire, one of the two other BFP candidates in Liverpool. The BFP’s only other candidate is standing in Basildon, Essex.
London – a key battleground
The elections for the Greater London Assembly will be a key battleground, as the BNP see to regain the seat that Richard Barnbrook took for the party in 2008, through the ‘top-up list’.
The BNP is standing Carlos Cortiglia as a candidate for mayor of London – a move that will mean that a BNP election address will be included in the election material put through every door in London. Their top-up list is headed by Steve Squire, who will be seeking to breach the 5% barrier that could get him elected.
The fascist parties are also standing in the GLA member elections in some areas, notably Redbridge and Havering, where the BNP’s Bob Taylor is joined by EDP candidate Mark Twiddy and the NF’s longtime Nazi Richard Edmonds, formerly a deputy leader of the BNP. Taylor is also standing in a Barking and Dagenham byelection on 19 April.
But it is the GLA list that presents the greatest danger – Barnbrook got in with just 5.3% of the vote in 2008. It is important that Londoners use their votes to keep the BNP out this time.
Yorkshire and Humber
This is the main target area for the EDP, with 33 candidates – more than a third of their total – standing in areas that the BNP has targeted in the past, with sunstantial slates in Barnsley, Leeds and Doncaster.
There are a clutch of BNP candidates in Rotherham, and the NF are putting up four in Hull. The BNP is standing in Bradford’s Queensbury ward, where it still holds a seat. But in Kirklees, where the BNP has had influence in the past, no fascists are standing this time.
The BNP is standing 35 candidates across the region – a quarter of its total – with the EDP and BFP (in Liverpool) also putting in an appearance.
The BNP, EDP and NF are all standing in Liverpool’s mayoral election, seeking extra publicity.
In Salford, the BNP and EDP are both standing for mayor, with the BNP also putting up eight council candidates. Other areas with clutches of BNP candidates include Stockport (seven) and Burnley (six), where the remaining BNP councillor Sharon Wilkinson could be kicked out of her seat.
The BNP looks to have preserved more of its organisation here than in any other region. It is standing 48 candidates here, more than a third of its total nationally. These include 18 in Birmingham, 11 in Coventry and eight in Nuneaton.
There are also handfuls of NF and EDP candidates in the West Midlands.
But North Staffs antifascist campaigners were celebrating the absence of fascist candidates in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where the BNP had been expected to stand despite its wipeout in neighbouring Stoke.
The main threat in the East Midlands is in Amber Valley, where five BNP and one NF candidate are standing. BNP councillor Cliff Roper could be unseated here.
East of England
In the East of England, the EDP is having a notable push, particularly in Essex and Herts. Eddy Butler and Robin Tilbrook are standing for the EDP in Epping Forest alongside two BNP members – one of them current BNP councillor Pat Richardson. Five of the 10 EDP candidates in Southend have previously stood for the BNP, as has ‘independent’ candidate Geoff Strobridge.
A scattering of EDP candidates across the region are standing in areas once targeted by the BNP. But in Thurrock, the NF has put up four candidates, alongside one BNPer. The NF’s bunch include former Isle of Dogs Nazi Derek Beackon, who was pushed into fourth place when he stood for the BNP just last year.
In the North East, the BNP’s main push is in South Tyneside, with eight candidates. There are a handful of BNP and NF candiadtes elsewhere in the region.
The South East and South West of England have been largely ignored by the far right, with just three BNP, two EDP and one NF candidate, all in the South East.
Scotland has eight NF candidates, with six of these in Aberdeen and two more in West Lothian. Another four are standing for the fascist Britannica Party. In Wales, the fascists have rustled up just two BNP and two NF candidates across the entire country.