June 11, 2007

BNP councillor is facing a backlash

Hundreds of protesters are tonight expected to ratchet up pressure on the West's first and only BNP local councillor. Taxi driver Michael Simpkins won his seat on Corsham town council in Wiltshire last month when no one stood against him. But after the unopposed election the picturesque town has become a cauldron of rows, threats and demonstrations.

The 21-year-old local man leading today's demonstration said he has become the victim of threats - while BNP supporters in the town have complained that Mr Simpkins was elected democratically and the demonstration is being orchestrated by anti-BNP campaigners and union leaders from Bristol and London.

Hundreds of protesters could arrive outside Corsham Town Hall this evening, two hours before the second full council meeting since Cllr Simpkins won his seat. A smaller demo before the first meeting passed off peacefully.

Kyle Thornhill, 21, said: "I'm from Corsham and I'm proud of the fact this is a multi-cultural country. My grandfather was from Barbados but I'm a local. I couldn't believe it when I heard this man won his seat because he was unopposed. We want him either to stand down or have a proper election to see if people support his views or not. It makes me a bit ashamed to be from Corsham if we're the first place in the West to have a BNP councillor. His views are racist and his party is racist - they won't allow people from ethnic minorities join their party, which is blatant racist discrimination," he added.

Mr Thornhill said he has received threats and intimidation for his part in organising the demo, which is also being promoted by anti-BNP groups such as Searchlight and the TUC. Other local councillors who are opposed to the BNP said they too had received threats, but added that hundreds of people in the town supported Mr Thornhill's stance.

Labour district councillor Christine Reid pointed out that three other BNP councillors had to fight elections in the town - and all lost.

But the BNP's presence in Corsham has been growing steadily in recent years. Last year, Cllr Simpkins made headlines after he took his teenage son out of the town's secondary school in protest at his opposition to the school teaching about Islam in the RE curriculum. There was more controversy when the town's cadet troop leader was revealed as a BNP member, and then the party began night-time patrols of the town - claiming it had been asked to by residents and shopkeepers worried at the rise in anti-social behaviour and under-age drinking from some of the town's youth. The patrols, and similar ones in nearby Calne, were slammed by the police as "unacceptable vigilanteism".

Cllr Simpkins yesterday dismissed Mr Thornhill as a "silly young man", and said the protests were being orchestrated by anti-BNP figures from cities like Bristol - many of the protesters would not be locals, he said. "With or without the protest I am going to treat the meeting as normal."

Western Daily Press


Antifascist said...

'With or without the protest I am going to treat the meeting as normal.'

Presumably that means that he, like most BNP councillors, will attend, say absolutely nothing and vote for nothing, then leave early to go down the pub with his BNP colleagues.

Anonymous said...

LOL You forgot a bit though.
"say absolutely nothing,understand nothing and vote for nothing"