The leader of the BNP in Scotland will contest Jim Murphy’s Westminster seat at the next general election as part of a publicity-grabbing campaign which the fascist party believes will help them win a Holyrood seat in the 2011 election
BNP representatives will also stand in Gordon Brown, Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling’s seats.
Although the party expects to lose against the Scottish Secretary in the General Election, BNP chiefs hope to gain enough attention during the race to win a regional list seat when the Holyrood elections come round in 2011. Mr Murphy will be fighting for his political life at the general election as the Tories see his East Renfrewshire seat as one of their key targets, and will be counting on every vote.
Campaigners have attacked the BNP’s Scottish leader Gary Raikes and claimed his decision to stand in multicultural East Renfrewshire, which contains almost half of Scotland’s Jewish population and large Islamic communities, could inflame community tensions. In response to the BNP move, Mr Murphy is now vowing to recruit Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups to fight what he described as the “abhorrent” far-right party.
Raikes said: “Jim Murphy is a very important target for us. We’d like to see all Labour politicians lose their seats.”
The BNP’s Scottish leader added: “This is just a step to 2011 when we will be in with a chance of winning a regional list seat. The sheep will still vote Labour in this seat, however I do think the Tories are in with a real chance of winning the seat. If we can take a thousand or so votes off Murphy and help him lose his seat we will be happy.”
The BNP also plans to stand against Gordon Brown in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Alistair Darling in Edinburgh West and in Alex Salmond’s Banff and Buchan seat, although Salmond will not be contesting it. Candidates will also stand in Aberdeen North and Aberdeen South, which is Anne Begg’s seat.
The next tactic will be to field candidates for all eight regional list seats in 2011, in the hope of winning a place in Holyrood. The BNP claimed it has a “good chance” of getting enough of the vote in the Central and Glasgow regions to win a seat. The BNP hopes to capitalise on recent public resentment over the expenses scandal. Mr Murphy warned that anger with politicians was “being exploited by people with evil intentions.”
The Scottish Secretary now faces the prospect of sharing a platform with the BNP. “I didn’t ever think I would have to debate a fascist party,” Mr Murphy said. “I thought that type of politics was a thing of the past but that poison is back in the form of the BNP.
“They are now planning to stand against me and its time for them to give some answers about their denial of the Holocaust and their hatred of immigrants. Their politics are alien to our British way of life – where we try to see people for who they are rather than their skin colour, nationality or religion. The BNP’s Nazi salutes and Holocaust denials turn my stomach.”
Mr Murphy has a history of battling the BNP and has previously said that its members are a problem facing Scotland, not just England, and that their support has grown tenfold in the past decade to 29,000 across Scotland.
Mr Murphy now plans to muster support from all religious groups in his constituency to mount a fightback.
He added: “We need to rise to this challenge sooner rather than later and we must succeed not for the sake of politicians but for the sake of our country. I will consult with churches, Jewish and Muslim groups about the best way to engage with, and defeat, the abhorrent views of the BNP.”
Scotland has faced a number of “fascist” threats recently, claimed Aamer Anwar, human rights lawyer and organiser of Scotland United, a coalition that stood against the far-right Scottish Defence League when it tried to march in Glasgow.
He said: “This should be of concern because the BNP has repeatedly been exposed as a fascist organisation. They have so far failed to get a toehold anywhere in Scotland ... but what is of concern is the publicity they will try to gain in these high profile seats.”