By Natalie Wilson | Friday, 14 May 2004 Source: Carlisle News and Star
ANTI-nazi campaigners have welcomed the news that no candidates from the far-right British National Party will stand in next month's local elections in Cumbria.
But they have warned against complacency, as the party has decided to channel its energy into winning a seat in the region's European elections.
Cumbrian Unite Against Fascism campaigner, Paul Jenkins, said: "I think it shows that wherever there is opposition to the BNP, as there has been in the north and south of the county, it's possible to beat them.
"But there is no room for complacency as their Nazi leader Nick Griffin is standing in the European elections in the North West. There's a very real danger he could win a seat in the European parliament with a small percentage of the vote."
Mr Griffin, who has a conviction for inciting racial hatred, is party chairman and number one candidate on its slate for the North West constituency, which includes Cumbria.
Under the proportional representation system, he will be elected if the BNP wins 10 per cent of the region's votes.
Second on the list is Silloth-based Martin Wingfield, the editor of the BNP's national newspaper, Voice of Freedom. He will be elected if the party polls 18 per cent.
Mr Jenkins said: "As long as there's a Nazi presence in the county, that's a reason to keep opposing it. We will be urging people to keep up the campaign."
Carlisle Labour MP Eric Martlew said he will be joining the fight against the BNP.
"I think the reason they decided not to stand in the local elections in Cumbria is they don't think they will get the support here, and I think they are right," he said.
"But I have written to all the students in Carlisle, urging them to vote here in the North West to ensure the BNP don't get elected.
"I'm asking them to vote Labour if they can but the main thing is just to vote for anyone except the BNP."
The European and local elections take place on June 10. Ballot papers for the all-postal vote will be sent out next week.