The voting system used in the London elections and disillusionment with the mainstream political parties, risk “opening the door” to Nick Griffin’s BNP, anti-extremist campaign group HOPE not hate has warned.
Although Griffin’s party has recently been riven by splits and a funding crisis, and is still reeling from its disastrous showing in the 2010 general election and last year’s local elections, HOPE not hate Director Nick Lowles urged Londoners “not to let the politics of hate and division win by default.”
Speaking as HOPE not hate launched its own London wide awareness campaign in the run up to next month’s elections, Lowles said: “Disillusionment with the main political parties, plus the unique nature of the voting system, are the real risks in this election, rather than any love of Griffin or his party. The BNP need only 5% of the vote in the London elections to get a representative on the London Assembly.
“In addition to a full-time wage and support staff, this position would allow the hardline racist party the ability to intervene at every level of London politics and give them a platform to spread their racist politics.”
He added: “While the BNP has suffered severe setbacks in the last couple of years, most notably with their heavy defeat in Barking and Dagenham in 2010, they remain a threat. Our message is that everyone who opposes racism must get out and vote. Whichever part of London they live and whatever party they support, they must vote on 3 May.”
HOPE not hate has recently launched the “Our Britain, Not Theirs” campaign, which is being supported by celebrities including Eddie Izzard, Speech Debelle, Levi Roots, Billy Bragg, Meera Syal, Simon Rimmer and Fiona Phillips.
HOPE not hate will be launching its campaign in conjunction with the local anti-racist group, Hackney Unites, an independent community coalition that aims to bring together local people and community organisations to give voice to their concerns and oppose racism.
John Page, of Hackney Unites, said: “'Virtually no one in Hackney actually votes for the BNP. But in this election, with its proportional representation system, if you don't vote you make it easier for the BNP to get the 5% of votes cast that they need to 'win' a seat.”
The event will be held today from 10:30 am at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden (13 Dalston Lane, Hackney, London E8 3DF). It will be attended by HOPE not hate organisers, Hackney Unites and representatives of Hackney.