Billy Bragg confronts Richard Barnbrook in DagenhamSinger and activist engages in finger-pointing row with the BNP's London assembly member in east London
Billy Bragg was engaged in a finger-pointing row with a senior member of the British National party during a day of action in London, telling him his "racist fascist" politics offered no help to voters. Bragg was leafleting in Barking and Dagenham, one of the BNP's top target areas in next month's elections, when he bumped into the BNP's London assembly member, Richard Barnbrook, who has attacked the singer on his blog.
Bragg, who was born and raised in Barking, told Barnbrook: "You do not represent the people of Barking and Dagenham," as the pair became embroiled in a heated argument. "You are exploiting the genuine concerns of people here and you are making the problems worse."
Barnbrook, who was elected to the London assembly in 2008, accused Bragg of "mouthing away" and said the "ballot box will determine what happens".
The exchange came during a day of action against the BNP which saw 541 volunteers deliver 91,000 Hope Not Hate newspapers.
The BNP is due to launch its manifesto this week and has claimed it is on the verge of causing a "political earthquake". It claims it has a chance of taking control of Barking and Dagenham council and of gaining two MPs – in Stoke Central and Barking.
However, the far-right party's campaign has been beset by problems, and it appears to be floundering in the polls. Internal criticism over Nick Griffin's leadership came to a head earlier this month when publicity director Mark Collett was arrested on suspicion of threatening to kill him. In Stoke, the party's number two target, Alby Walker, who led the BNP on the local council for four years, is standing as an independent in the general election.
Walker said he was leaving the BNP because of a "vein of Holocaust denying within the BNP that I cannot identify myself with."
Meanwhile Griffin, who is standing in Barking, has been forced to change the BNP's whites-only membership policy following a legal battle with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Last week the Electoral Commission announced it was launching a formal investigation into the party's 2008 accounts. These difficulties appear to have hit the party's ability to stand candidates in next month's local elections.