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British National Party

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The British National Party (BNP) functions as a political party in the United Kingdom. The BNP comprises the largest political party of the far-right in British politics.

The party was founded in 1982 by John Tyndall, previously the chairman of the National Front. The current National Chairman, Nick Griffin, joined the BNP in 1989 after spending time as an activist for the National Front while reading a Law degree at Cambridge University.

In the 2001 General Election no BNP candidate won a seat as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, though in the same year -- due to widespread "race riots" in the north of England -- BNP local election results improved markedly. In the council elections in May 2001 three BNP candidates gained seats on Burnley[?] council, which many people took as an important indicator of the mood of the British electorate. In the council elections of 2003 the BNP increased their Burnley total by five seats, thus becoming the second-largest party on the council there.

In the same 2003 elections the BNP contested a record 221 seats (around 2% of all contested seats). They won eleven council seats in all, though Nick Griffin did not win, and the party did not win a single seat in Sunderland[?], despite contesting 25 seats there. Council success for the BNP has three main themes:

  1. Low turnout
  2. Racial tension/violence
  3. Collapse of the Conservative vote.

Sunderland had less racial tension than in many other BNP targets, a high turnout (assisted by postal voting), and only a tiny Tory vote to start with. A resurgence of the Labour Party in Oldham accounts for the BNP's failure in that town.

Almost all commentators class the BNP as a far-right Nationalist or neo-Nazi party, although it has attempted to present itself as more mainstream since Nick Griffin took over as National Chairman. However, the BNP retains its links to openly pro-violence neo-Nazi organisations such as Combat 18.

The party has often been accused of exploiting and inflaming racial tensions for its own benefit in a number of areas.

See also: Neo-Nazism, nationalism, democracy

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