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Stoke-on-Trent is meant to be a jewel in the crown for the BNP - why else would they parachute Simon 'Stoke - is that near Barking?' Darby into the Stoke Central constituency?
However, with the publication of the nominations for the City Council elections (also on May 6th) we can see that the wheels are not so much coming off, as bouncing through the hedge at the side of the road!
All twenty City Council seats have a single seat up for re-election. Labour and the Conservatives are fighting all 20. Liberal Democrats 19. Independents (Stoke has lots of different Independents) 18. UKIP 10.
And the BNP? Six candidates. Six. Three of whom are existing sitting councillors. Hardly a sign of strength.
And in Darby's 'target' seat of Stoke Central, supposedly the second-best BNP prospect in the whole of Britain, they are contesting just three of the seven wards. No normal political party would consider failing to field a full slate of local election candidates in what is supposedly a key target constituency. But then, as we all know, the BNP is not normal.
There's a further interesting detail. One of the six towns which make up the City of Stoke-on-Trent is Longton. Its two wards (North and South) have long been considered the BNP's heartland in the area. It elected the first BNP councillor in 2002. In 2007 Griffin himself attended the Stoke count because he expected Longton North to become the first ward in Britain to elect a full slate of BNP members in three consecutive elections (they didn't). In 2008 they polled 25.8% in North; 19.4% in South.
And in 2010 they are contesting neither seat!
Meanwhile, in the Abbey Green ward of Central they face their own former group leader (Alby Walker); in Weston & Meir North (South constituency) they face an EFP candidate. The local elections are going to be rather overshadowed by the general election, but the results in Stoke-on-Trent could prove to be very interesting on May 7th.