Emma Colgate, who has stepped into the breach in Thurrock after Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, decided to switch to Barking, east London, for the general election, is one of the BNP’s most hard-working councillors.
Elected to Thurrock council in May 2008 she has a 100% attendance record at meetings of the full council and the general services committee. She is the sole BNP councillor there but holds significant power because the council is split between Labour and the Conservatives. After the former Conservative council leader, Terry Hipsey, crossed the floor to join Labour, she used her vote to keep what Hipsey described as a “dysfunctional Tory group” in power.
Only last week, Griffin appealed for donations to launch the party’s “run-up campaign to the general election”, saying: “In this next General Election I will be standing in Thurrock where the split vote between the old parties means we could win a Parliamentary seat with just 27% of the vote” – a highly improbable scenario. He had been putting his face around in Thurrock but on 15 November at the BNP’s annual conference announced that he would be standing in Barking because it was the BNP’s best chance of winning a parliamentary seat.
He is probably wrong about that. For a start he would need considerably more than 27% to oust Labour in one of its safe seats. And the increasing number of minority ethnic residents will make his task that much harder, especially after his recent attack on London as no longer British. Griffin also claimed that Richard Barnbrook, who had very publicly declared that he was going to be Barking’s next MP, had stood aside willingly and had now set his sights on becoming leader of Barking and Dagenham council.
Colgate is currently the BNP’s national administration officer, an appointment announced at the BNP’s European election victory rally in Blackpool in June. Before that she was Barnbrook’s researcher, employed by the Greater London Authority at London taxpayers’ expense. She remains on the public payroll, however, as she is one of several BNP senior officers on the EU gravy train as staff for the two MEPs.
Despite Griffin’s optimism about the party’s prospects in Thurrock, she will have a hard job to win the seat. In the 2005 general election, the BNP candidate Nick Geri came fourth with 5.8% of the vote. Colgate herself stood in Basildon in 2005, where she came fourth with 4.8%.
Hope not hate