The first ethnic minority Mayor of Barking and Dagenham branded the BNP "irresponsible" after the far-right party asserted that black and Asian Britons "do not exist". Indian-born Cllr Inder Singh Jamu, 72, blasted the BNP claim this would be denying other Britons their identity and that they should instead be called "racial foreigners".
The River ward councillor who moved to England in 1966 and became a British citizen in the late seventies, having worked at Ford Dagenham until the eighties and run his own driving school for 23 years, said: "I feel proud to be British. I was the first Asian Mayor of Barking and Dagenham in 1998 and last month I received the Freedom of the Borough. I don't understand these people."
He added: "I condemn this statement. This is a most irresponsible and racist statement made to damage community cohesion. I am a Sikh. We believe in equality of all races. This is our fundamental belief."
Barking and Dagenham church leaders Rev Mike Reith and Rev Gordon Tarry also criticised the "outrageous" use of language, which, they said, reminded them of Nazi Germany. Mr Tarry, vicar of St Margaret's, The Broadway, Barking, said: "It's an outrageous slur on black and Asian people, which is contrary to Christian beliefs and resonant with comments from Nazi Germany."
Mr Reith, vicar of Dagenham Parish Church in Crown Street, said: "To target black and Asian people is to be colour prejudiced, and that is against our national identity. The BNP identity ties up more with Nazi Germany than with traditional England."
Barking and Dagenham BNP leader Cllr Bob Bailey rallied behind party chairman Nick Griffin, who said denying non ethnic minority Britons their identity would be a kind of "bloodless genocide".
The Alibon ward councillor said: "I don't think there is anything controversial. Nick Griffin acknowledges that if somebody has a British passport, if they respect our laws and culture, they could be classed civically as British. But I don't think it's fair to the British people to deny their existence. This is what he said and I agree with that. British people have lived on these islands for thousands and thousands of years. Saying these people are British denies British people their own existence. It dilutes it, it waters it down."
Barking and Dagenham Recorder