BNP set for trouncing in local elections

The threat of the British National Party stands seriously diminished on the eve of local elections across England, experts have claimed.

Unlike four years ago, the Board of Deputies has not felt the need to run a campaign against the BNP, and anti-fascist campaign group Hope Not Hate has predicted widespread defeat for BNP candidates.

Election analysts believe the rise of UKIP has attracted former BNP voters who are drawn by the Eurosceptic party's policies on immigration.

Board vice president Jonathan Arkush said: "The chances of far-right candidates making any progress in the local elections appear very low.

"As Hope Not Hate has noted, the number of candidates from the far-right is the lowest in a long time, and very few of them indeed are credible."

In 2009, the Board ran a national campaign in an attempt to stop the BNP winning seats after the party fielded 450 candidates in county council polls.

But, in next Thursday's elections, only around 110 BNP candidates will seek election. It will be the BNP's lowest number of candidates in more than a decade. It is thought those representing the party pose a serious chance of victory in only a handful of seats and the BNP's only current county councillor is not defending her seat.

Matthew Collins of Hope Not Hate said the BNP had largely diverted funds and resources to the campaign to get its leader Nick Griffin re-elected as an MEP in next year's European elections.

Mr Collins said: "It's not looking good for the BNP. We are not taking them lightly but UKIP will hoover up everything, including support for other parties such as the English Democrats."

In a statement on the BNP website, Mr Griffin said his party was "fighting to win". He acknowledged UKIP's media profile had led to the change in strategy, adding: "Predictably our enemies pointed to the reduction in the number of candidates compared to 2009 as evidence of our demise. The BNP is a lot more entrenched in communities than our opponents understand."

Last updated: 8:45am, April 26 2013