February 21, 2009

Golding: ‘I’m not racist, but you have to start looking after your own’

The arrival of black and Asian families from London has made Swanley fertile territory for the BNP, says Jerome Taylor

Paul Golding was in a sunny mood yesterday. The 27-year-old unemployed lorry driver got dressed in his sharpest suit, donned an astonishingly bright British National Party rosette and took a tour around the streets of Swanley that he now represents as a councillor. Walking through the ward of St Mary’s, the town’s newest representative was relishing the limelight brought by his surprise victory in Thursday’s council by-election.

Not even a passing motorist rolling down his window to shout the word “wanker” put him off his stride. “You know why we won this area?” he said. “Because people round here are sick to death of the mainstream parties. Labour have held this area for 40 years but they treat the people like second-class citizens. This is not about racism – we never campaigned on race issues here – it is just about putting British people first.”

Gary Hillier, 56, was one of several locals in Swanley’s high street who took the time to congratulate their new councillor on his victory. “I swear on my life this is the first time I’ve ever voted,” he said. “I’m not racist by a long shot, but we’ve got to start looking out for our own. People wait for years on the housing list round here, but as soon as a foreigner comes along they get sent straight to the front of the queue.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, both Mr Golding and the BNP leadership were keen to portray their victory in Swanley this week as proof that their party can offer an alternative to mainstream politics without having to resort to race.

Andy McBride, the BNP’s regional director for the South-east, said he believed voters in in Swanley were drawn to the party because of the economic situation. “We have been predicting this recession for years and people called us scaremongers,” he added. “Now they are starting to see we were right and they trust us.”

But regardless of the official line, it was all too clear that race, and fear of immigrants, played a key part in ensuring that the predominantly white, working-class voters of Swanley backed a party that, to its critics, is a byword for racism. The suburb of St Mary’s lies on the western edge of Swanley, a former rail town of traditionally Labour voters, just across the M25 from the Tory-leaning commutercopia of Sevenoaks.

Swanley’s estates are formed of rows of 1930s semi-detached houses, populated by families who either hail from the area or moved out of the bomb-damaged East End of London after the Second World War. The area even has a large community of settled traveller families, who clearly feel they have been there long enough to vote for a party which, in other areas of Britain, often campaigns on an anti-traveller platform.

But in recent years the predominantly white ethnic make-up of the town has begun to change as black and Asian Londoners also move out of the city towards the suburbs.

“Two years ago there were very few black faces in the congregation,” said a church official yesterday, speaking on condition on anonymity. “Now there is a much more ethnically mixed crowd. Personally I think that’s a fantastic thing but it’s no secret that some people are upset about that.” For Lesley Dyall, the former Labour councillor whose resignation last November sparked this election, that underlying current of racial tension was all too clear to see when locals headed to the heavily policed polling booth just off St Mary’s Road.

The 52-year-old said she was dismayed to see a group of voters chanting racist slogans as they went into and out of the polling station. “It was dreadful,” she said. “They were chanting ‘blacks out’ as they came out of the community centre. I saw them coming out – it was very distressing to witness something like that in a local election. I just feel sorry for any black people who might have heard or seen that – it was shocking and disgusting.”

Lynn Taylor, who was out shopping in Aldi with her two children, made no attempt to hide the fact that the Government’s apparently “soft” treatment of immigrants was what made her vote for Mr Golding. “I was on the list for six years before I got a house and yet the council round here will happily give accommodation to foreigners all the time,” she said.

“They look at people like us as something on the sole of their shoes. People like Mr Golding will stick up for people like me.” Voter apathy might also have played a large part in securing the BNP their first victory in the South. Turnout for the elections was just under 31 per cent, allowing the BNP to concentrate on winning over those who might be more easily attracted to the party’s policies without having to worry about a mass mobilisation against them. Many locals said BNP volunteers began canvassing the area long before the Labour and Tory flyers came through their doors.

If the same thing happens later this year during the European elections, which the BNP are mobilising heavily for because proportional representation favours parties that benefit from a low turnout, then many fear there will almost certainly be a BNP MEP come the summer.

All of which is little consolation for people like 53-year-old John Leon, one of Swanley’s black residents that many BNP voters appeared to show a dislike for. He spent most of his life in Greenwich but moved out to Swanley because he wanted to get away from the higher crime rates in the capital. Yesterday he woke up in a town that had voted BNP. “I’m absolutely shocked and very unhappy about it,” he said. “This town is a really welcoming place, I never even thought there were any racial tensions and I’ve never had any problems. It make you wonder where else they might win.”

The turning tide: Recent results

Sevenoaks District – Swanley St Mary’s:
BNP 408
Lab 332
Con 247
(May 2007 – Two seats Lab 462, 420, C 208, 197, Ukip 165)

North West Leicestershire District – Thringstone:
Con 520
BNP 465
Lib Dem 76
Lab 59 (May 2007 – Two seats Lab 634, 564, C 501, 376, Lib Dem 355, 331).

Lewisham London Borough – Downham: (Two seats)
Lib Dem 1,067
Lab 635
Con 632
BNP 287
Green 63
(May 2006 – 3 seats Lib Dem 1,130, 1,117, 1,106, Lab 590, 586, 554, C 403, 330, 326, Green 153, 149, 137).

Harrogate Borough – Bilton:
Lib Dem 902
Con 673
BNP 164
Lab 51 (May 2007 – Lib Dem 974, C 877, BNP 122).

The Independent


Anonymous said...

Interesting ! My copy of the Nutzi list does not show Golding as resident in the Sevenoaks District.

Has somebody checked his residence qualification on the nomination papers ?

After all the BNP would not commit electoral fraud would they ?

Old Sailor

Anonymous said...

Andy McBride is the saddo who brags about being the next BNP leader.

Anonymous said...

"Interesting ! My copy of the Nutzi list does not show Golding as resident in the Sevenoaks District."

Could that be because the list is about a year or two years old and Golding didnt rejoin until about 8 months ago

Anonymous said...

I cant see Paul Golding on the list anyway

Anonymous said...

Paul Golding moved to Sevenoaks recently - at least he had quite a spread in the local paper about how he was setting up a local office and regional HQ in the town and he was going to be working there for the BNP.
If memory serves, he would probably have moved about three months ago.

Anonymous said...

"...the Nutzi list does not show Golding as resident in the Sevenoaks District."

Spooky... My list doesnt show any P Golding at all, only two Goldings are on there - just an S and a J. When did he rejoin?

Anonymous said...

"I’m not racist but..."

God, how many times have we heard that as an immediate prelude to some racist crap.

Anonymous said...

Interesting - Is he abusing the "employment" qualification by being employed by the Nonces Party ?

If so can he be disqualified if the Nutzies office is closed.

The details will be on the nomination papers, can some locval comrade chgeck these ?

Old Sailor

Anonymous said...

If memory serves, he would probably have moved about three months ago.

12:06 AM, February 22, 2009

That makes his election invalid. You must live or work for 12 months within the region to qualify.

Anonymous said...

Highly interesting !

As I it would be a 400 mile round trip to the District Council Office to examine nomination and expense p[apers can some local comrade please check and report on the grounds claimed for elegibility please ?

Its perm any out of

Normal Place of Residence

Employed in the area

Owening Property in the Area

Registered elector in area.


Old Sailor

Anonymous said...

Keep calm,

Paul Golding's been living there for ages but it was only about 5 months ago he ventured back to the BNP and got that story about a "sevenoaks office" splashed all over by a gulliable press.

Antifascist said...

It would be intersting to see the dates he started paying (or claiming) council tax and the date he registered as a voter at his current address.

If there's any reasonable doubt about his qualification to stand, it should be brought to the attention of the council (and the local media).

Anonymous said...

I dont know much about Golding, other than him lumping another BNP member, but it does show how out of date that list is.

I dont doubt he has lived/worked in Seven Oaks or Swanley for the requisite amount BUT he may be in contravention of the BNPs own rules about candidacy - dont you have to be a member for 1 or 2 years probation or something before standing.

Not that they'll do much about that, even whacking a fellow extremist didnt keep Golding out.

You cant keep a bad fellow down it seems in todays BNP

Anonymous said...

I only noticed two BNP members in Swanley. If he wasn't eligible to stand this really does need to be followed up!

Anonymous said...

Labour got 593 votes in Thringstone, not 59. The fascists were expecting to win, and were mob-handed at the polling station and the count, and leafleted on the day itself, but UAF had got there first and it was another defeat for them in North West Leicestershire, and this is only the beginning. They go where they think there's no anti-fascist opposition. Unfortunately for them, anti-fascist opposition follows them.

Anonymous said...

"Labour got 593 votes in Thringstone, not 59. The fascists were expecting to win, and were mob-handed at the polling station and the count, and leafleted on the day itself,"

Interfereing with the free acessof voters to the polling station.

This is typical of the Nutzies in Berlin in the 20's and 30's.

And it is an election offence!

More details please !

Old Sailor