Parties from across the political spectrum have united to implore north Manchester’s constituents to reject the ‘divisive’ policies of the BNP in the forthcoming European election.
Representatives from the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Respect and Green parties have come together to speak out against Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, who is standing as a candidate in the North West. They fear that the BNP - described by Cheetham Hill councillor Afzal Khan as a ‘fascist organisation’ - could gain its first ever MEP if there is a low turn out of voters in the region.
Under the election’s proportional representation system, it is estimated that the party would need around eight per cent of the vote to secure a seat. However, opponents hope that a large turn out of residents backing other parties will reduce the proportion of votes the BNP receive.
North Manchester has seen strong support for the BNP of late, with candidate Derek Adams coming second in the Moston by-election earlier this month, winning 23.3 per cent of votes. Now Cllr Khan is urging residents to vote in the Euro election, which takes place 4 June, to keep the controversial party at bay.
"The BNP is not a normal political party," he said. "It is a racist and fascist organisation that peddles fear, loathing and division. It preys on people’s insecurities, offering no solutions to complex questions. The BNP message stands against basic British traditions of fairness, tolerance and equality. It is a sad state of affairs that anyone would still have this attitude in the 21st century when the world is becoming more inclusive. It is a civic duty for everyone to vote. We cannot remain indifferent when the BNP are contesting the election. They are happy to destroy the hard work of Mancunians who strived to make this city the success it is today."
However, Mr Adams said he found Cllr Khan’s accusations of fascism ‘unbelievable’.
"This is coming from a Labour party councillor whose government has overseen the suggestion of ID cards, the hunting ban, the smoking ban, unprecedented video surveillance and listening in on private e-mails and phone calls," he said. "As for policies, the BNP has perfectly fair and rational arguments on all issues and if ever the dictatorial Labour Party wish to give us the opportunity to debate our policies in public, we would be more than happy to allow the people to decide who has the right answers to Britain's many problems."
To vote you must be on the electoral register and have registered by 19 May.
North East Manchester Advertiser