Far-right political party the BNP will not field a single candidate in South Tyneside in May.
A spokesman for the party said the move was a political decision in a bid to persuade national leader Nick Griffin to stand down. Martin Vaughan, fundholder for the party in South Tyneside, said the party was “finished” under Mr Griffin’s leadership. The move comes despite the BNP standing candidates in all borough electoral wards up for grabs at last year’s local elections.
Rival parties in South Tyneside today expressed their delight at the announcement. Coun Jane Branley, Independent Alliance representative for Westoe, said she believes the real reason is “disillusionment that they can’t get a toehold in what they thought were winnable seats in South Tyneside”.She added: “I am delighted that the BNP are not fielding any candidate as I abhor everything they stand for.”
Coun Iain Malcolm, the Labour leader of South Tyneside Council, also welcomed the party’s non-participation, adding: “I look forward to the day that the BNP as a political party is disbanded.”
But Coun George Elsom, Real Independent for Cleadon Park, described the withdrawal as a “big surprise”. He added: “I abhor the BNP and what they stand for, but I defend anyone’s democratic right to stand for election. Their candidate polled well in Cleadon Park last time round, so some people obviously agree with their policies.”
Mr Vaughan said: “Mr Griffin has attracted a lot of bad publicity and the party is in debt. There is a lot of disillusionment with him, and the party in South Tyneside want him to stand down. Under his leadership, the BNP is finished and we need him to go before we can rebuild. Previously loyal BNP members are being sacked throughout the country for speaking out against him. I don’t expect to remain in my role for much longer.”
Mr Griffin had been invited to meet his critics at a gathering at the High Lane Social Club in Hebburn at the weekend, but did not attend.
Mr Vaughan added: “He wasn’t even willing to answer his critics.”
Mr Griffin was unavailable for comment.
The Shields Gazette