Britain in shock after sending BNP to European ParliamentJune 8th, 2009 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS
By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, June 8 (IANS) Britain, one of the most multi-cultural countries in Europe, woke up Monday to the news that it had sent to the European Parliament two candidates whose party will not admit Blacks and Asians as members.
The news was greeted with shock and dismay by leaders of mainstream political parties, who had pleaded with voters not to vote for the British National Party (BNP), which campaigns on an anti-immigration plank and whose membership is reserved for Whites.
“It’s a terrible thing that happened last night,” Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the ruling Labour Party said after election results late Sunday night showed wins for BNP chief Nick Griffin and his colleague Andrew Brons.
“I think it is horrific that we have representing Britain in the European Parliament people who think that black people and people of Asian origin have no place in this country,” she said.
Foreign Minister David Miliband admitted the BNP’s success was “very damaging to Britain”.
Griffin, who was convicted in 1998 of distributing material likely to incited racial hatred, won from the North West England constituency, while Brons took the seat for the Yorkshire and the Humber region.
Describing their wins as “”desperately depressing,” Conservative Party leader David Cameron said: “The BNP are beyond the pale. They are an appalling bunch of people. I hope this is the extent of what they can do and that they go no further.”
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the BNP was “party of thugs and fascists.”
“They are nothing but racists in suits,” added Britain’s Health Minister Andy Burnham.
The far-right party’s wins were put down to anger over the global economic recession and voter disenchantment with mainstream political parties whose MPs have been found to be claiming thousands of pounds in parliamentary expenses from taxpayers’ cash.
Across the 27 nations of the European Union that went to the polls ending June 4, Conservative centre-right parties generally outperformed ruling social democrats and centre-left parties despite the global recession - a result that some observers put down to better organisation.
“The BNP exploited people’s fears. We have to work to tackle the fear that led people to vote for the BNP,” Harman said.
Griffin denied his party is racist, saying “This is ordinary decent people in Yorkshire kicking back against racism, because racism in this country is now directed overwhelmingly against people who look like me [white].”
Voter turnout across Europe was a low 43.4 percent.
In Britain, Labour was beaten to third place as the Conservatives took 25 seats, and the right-wing United Kindom Independence Party (UKIP) 13 - the same number as Labour but with a greater share of votes.
The Liberal Democrats won 11 seats while the BNP and the Greens took two each.
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