In last week’s local elections, the BNP achieved only limited gains, but anti-fascists cannot be complacent. they now claim 100 councillors, although this figure includes parish, town or community councillors, most of them elected unopposed to this lowest and usually non-political tier of local government. Prior to the announcement of results in London Hope Not Hate noted, “the BNP now appears to have 55 councillors. The party went into the polls with 45, down from 50 immediately after last year’s elections and made a net gain of ten.”
In London, they managed to secure enough notes to get their mayoral candidate Richard Barnbrook elected onto the London Assembly, meaning that one of the twenty-five people running London is now a fascist. Closer to home they managed to secure two seats on Amber Valley Borough Council, the authority in charge of the area where the BNP intends to hold the Red White and Blue festival this year. in Heanor East and Heanor West, the BNP’s Cliff Roper and Lewis Allsebrook won the party’s first council seats in the borough. In Heanor & Loscoe, the third Heanor Ward, Paul Snell for the BNP (the chap on the right in this charming picture) received 512 votes, to the victorious Labour candidate’s 513. (Full results for Amber Valley available here.)
The licensing application for the Red White and Blue festival lodged with Amber Valley Borough Council is currently open for consultation. Objections by Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP and a number of unions have been rejected by the council as not being “relevant” under the restrictive definitions in licensing law, a decision that the Notts group at least are seeking to appeal. While we don’t know number, we do know that at least some “relevant” objections have been received and so the license will have to be considered at a public licensing panel as it was last year. It is unclear at this point what the presence of two BNP members on the council will have on this process, but we will certainly be watching carefully to ensure they do not try and abuse their new positions. We also intend to picket the licensing panel and will announce details of this when we find out what date it is taking place on.
Whatever its impact on this years event, the BNP’s successes in Amber Valley should underline the importance of opposing the Red White and Blue festival. While far smaller than some of the original estimates put forward by the BNP, last year’s event attracted several hundred people, including a number of local people. While presented as a weekend of “family fun” (complete with drunken brawls), it also plays an important role in consolidating the party and it is likely that last year’s festival was crucial in building the party’s base in Heanor. This is why opposing the festival is so crucial.