BNP `to Win Seats' in Local Polls
Jo Dillon and Severin Carrell, The Independent (London, England)
Extremists are expected to win seats in Thursday's local elections in such race-hate hot spots as Oldham, Burnley and Blackburn.
Phil Woolas, the Labour MP for Oldham, has warned that there is a "very serious" threat of the British National Party winning at least one seat because of the "level of hatred for the Asian people".
He said that the BNP had gone from attracting protest votes to winning support for racist policies - a change he feels is due not only to exploitation of social problems, crime and riots but also to the left's failure to make a case for a multiracial Britain.
Gurbux Singh, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), has warned the leaders of the three main political parties that they have failed to combat the far right's campaigning.
Mr Singh arranged a series of private meetings with Charles Clarke, the Labour chairman, Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, and Oliver Letwin, the shadow Home Secretary, in the aftermath of Jean-Marie Le Pen's success in France.
He warned them that BNP successes could spark riots over the summer and urged them to focus on marginal areas being targeted by the BNP, to confront the BNP's attempts to exploit white alienation and to persuade whites to go to the polls.
The CRE's intervention is thought to have prompted the Prime Minister's visit to Blackburn, where the BNP is fielding 13 candidates, and his appeal to people to vote Labour, Tory or Lib Dem to keep out racists.
But there is a feeling that ministerial tours of the 68 wards where the BNP will stand have come too late and that all three parties have failed to counter racism. …