May 23, 2007

BNP face probe after Mayor walkout

Two BNP councillors staged an impromptu walkout from Sandwell Council last night in protest at a Sikh becoming mayor. They claim his appointment breaches the Magna Carta - but now face an enquiry by the local government standards board.

Simon Smith (who represents Great Bridge) and Carl Butler (Tividale) insist that they didn’t leave the chamber during the vote to appoint Gurcharan “Sid” Sidhu as first citizen – but Butler admits they did retire to an area close to the public gallery for a “coffee break”.

He claims that under the Magna Carta – which was written in 1215 and forms the basis of England’s constitution - “foreigners” are banned from holding public office. Quite how this applies to “Sid”, who’s been a British citizen for 44 years – isn’t clear, but as Butler is happy to explain, he believes that even people who are born in this country should be disqualified from public life if they are of African or Asian heritage.

“That’s not racist it’s realist”, he told us. “The Magna Carta states that no foreigner should take public office and that’s our view. There’s no personal animosity, he just shouldn’t be mayor”.

The BNP’s actions drew a sharp response across the political divide.

Sandwell’s Labour council leader Bill Thomas pointed out that “Sid” will be the borough’s fourth Asian mayor, with the first Dr Hirein Roy being appointed back in the 70s. Commenting on the BNP, Thomas said: “I find their actions disgraceful, and we’re considering taking them to the Standards Board.”

Cllr Bill Archer, a Conservative councillor and former Mayor himself joined in the chorus of criticism: “We are a multicultural society and they’ve got to accept that. The Mayor is the one office that regardless of party you’ve got to respect.”

The Stirrer

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