Blackpool's MPs have written an open letter condemning the hotel at the centre of today's British National Party rally.
The New Kimberley Hotel, on New South Promenade, South Shore, will play host to the far-right group who are celebrating winning their first seats in the European Parliament. But Gordon Marsden and Joan Humble have today blasted the hotel for opening its doors to the party.
In the joint letter, the two Labour MPs said: "The BNP is a group that works by dividing our communities – it deceives, tries to frighten and scapegoat people. It's a group that encourages anger to new people, ideas and experiences. Your open door to them brings hate, not happiness, to Blackpool. It hinders our prosperity and welcome to visitors – especially in Armed Forces and Veterans Week. Think about the variety and different backgrounds in your own friends and families – and next time, think again."
Mrs Humble and Mr Marsden alleged some BNP members were Holocaust deniers and claimed the party created "hatred and division". They also questioned the need for a victory rally by the BNP, saying nine out of 10 voters in Blackpool had voted against them.
But James Clayton, the BNP's organiser in Blackpool, said the MPs and protesters were the ones stirring tensions. He said: "I think it would be more appropriate for Joan Humble and Gordon Marsden to be writing to the protesters. The concern over this weekend's events is created by the protesters who are known for being disruptive. If they didn't turn up, we would basically be inside the hotel and for all intents and purposes, the people of Blackpool wouldn't even know we were here. It seems like Joan Humble and Gordon Marsden, when they're not busy claiming their expenses, are trying to disrupt what we are doing and I don't think that is appropriate."
The New Kimberley Hotel refused to comment on the letter.
At least 500 campaigners, organised by the group Unite Against Facism, are expected to hold an anti-BNP protest outside the New Kimberley Hotel today. Extra police have been drafted in to keep the peace.