The British National Party's senior members have voted "overwhelmingly" in favour of allowing a party-wide ballot on membership rules
A change in constitution would bring the BNP in line with the recent Equality Bill, and would allow non-white people to join.
On the first day of the party's annual conference in Wigan, delegates debated whether its membership policy should discriminate on the grounds of race or religion. The BNP's leader Nick Griffin was present at the "closed for business" debate, at the Legends Bar in Hindley Green. Members of the public and journalists are barred from the proceedings, which draw to a close on Sunday.
John Walker, a press officer for the party, said on Saturday: "Today we debated the change and how we are going to move forward. More than 300 of the party's voting membership voted overwhelmingly in favour. At a later stage it will be put to the entire membership of the party to vote for, or against, the motion."
On Sunday the delegates will discuss 12 policy motions put forward by the various regions the party operates in. Nick Griffin will then close the conference with a keynote speech in the afternoon.
During the conference, a group of up to 50 protesters marched from a nearby pub to the Swan Lane venue. The complex houses both the Body Image Fitness Centre and the Legends Bar. Demonstrators chanted "Black and white unite and fight" and "Smash the BNP" as they walked towards the venue. The police prevented them marching past the conference building, so they formed a group in a park across the road. Dozens of police officers were on patrol outside the complex and the surrounding roads.