Protest rally called as polls indicate BNP will win seat on London Assembly

Tony Grew May 2, 2008
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All the votes for the 25-member London Assembly have not been counted, but already anti-fascist groups are calling for protests if the British National Party wins a seat.

Exit polls indicate it is likely the party, who are hostile to gay equality, will capture the 5% of the vote necessary to take a London-wide seat.

All three leading candidates in the race for Mayor of London, Tory Boris Johnson, Labour candidate and incumbent Ken Livingstone and Lib Dem Brian Paddick, urged Londoners to turn out and vote and deny the BNP a voice on the Assembly.

The British National Party candidate for Mayor, Richard Barnbrook, is a Barking and Dagenham councillor, along with eleven BNP colleagues.

He told the BBC that the party would 1.3 million leaflets in London before the election.

On the issue of immigration, he denied the party is racist.

“It’s not immigrants that are at fault here, never has been, it’s the establishment, our own governing powers and their greed or their ignorance or their simple gutlessness to do anything about it,” he told the BBC.

“They feel if they try to look at immigration they will have the finger pointed at them – ‘racist’.

“This is an easy get out clause – this is bullying people.

“We’re not racist at all. We do not perceive one person’s religion, identity, culture or way of life as being better or worse than our own, we are simply different.”

The party, which has more than 50 councillors in England and Wales and made gains in last night’s council elections, is vehemently anti-gay, and at times maintained that homosexual acts should be recriminalised.

Mr Barnbrook told the BBC:

“You can be gay behind closed doors, you can be heterosexual behind closed doors, but you don’t bring it onto the streets, demanding more rights for it.”

Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE) and International Socialist Resistance (ISR) are calling for a protest outside City Hall at 3pm tomorrow if the party wins a seat.

“The BNP have received this result primarily as a protest vote, not as an indication of support for their real ideas,” said Ben Robinson, ISR national coordinator.

“People are angry with rising living costs and falling wages and with getting identical policies from the main three parties, policies of cuts, closures and privatisation.“However, when the BNP have got seats locally they have often supported these policies, and acted to encourage racism and xenophobia.

“This protest will be the start of a campaign against the BNP.”

The BNP urged its supporters to cast their second preference votes for the Tory candidate to ensure that Mr Livingstone was removed from office.

Boris Johnson responded: “I utterly and unreservedly condemn the BNP and have no desire whatsoever to receive a single second preference vote from a BNP supporter.”

Mr Barnbrook was ridiculed in 2006 when the Evening Standard newspaper publicised a copy of a film produced and directed by him described as “Marxist gay cinema.”

The film, HMS Discovery, A Love Story, contains scenes of men undressing and touching each other, coupled with nudity and sexual activities.

Mr Barnbrook, who won one of the 12 BNP seats in Barking and Dagenham local elections in 2006, told the Standard:

“It was an art film, not a bloody porn film.

“The only nudity in it is a couple of guys running in a river.

“This was done when I was a student. It was part of my extra education, part of my studies and that was it.

“Anything to do with my past politics or my past work, I am not interested in commenting on.”

The BNP has previously told that homosexuality should not be promoted as equal to a straight lifestyle.

“The word gay means happy, we have no problem with being happy,” a spokesman said.

“Some unfortunate people suffer from homosexuality so we will just have to tolerate them.

“If I was one I would be ashamed and would remain celibate.”

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